The ancient city of Perge near Antalya in Turkey is now an impressive archaeological site containing a wealth of ancient ruins, mostly dating back to the Roman period, though the city itself has a history dating back well into antiquity.
The current city is said to have been founded in circa 1000 BC, though settlements may well have existed here earlier; in fact Perge was mentioned in a Hittite tablet discovered in 1986. Though the early history of Perge is obscure, it is known that the site was captured by the Persians and then later by the armies of Alexander the Great in around 333 BC. Perge then became part of the Seleucid Kingdom.
The Romans arrived in Perge in approximately 188 BC and built most of the sites seen there now, including its once 15,000-seat theatre, the agora, gymnasium, baths and necropolis. During its time under Rome’s control the city went on to become an important Roman city and later Byzantine centre. Perge underwent what would probably be its golden age, with a wealth of new public and private buildings and monuments being constructed.
Indeed, in the later Roman period Perge became an important Christian city and it is believed that Saint Paul spent time here. During and after the fall of the Byzantine Empire, the city was subjected to a number of attacks and was abandoned during this time.
Today, though Perge may not be as well-known as many ancient Roman cities, there is plenty to see and it’s not far from the popular resort of Antalya. Among the ruins visitors can explore the wonderful colonnaded main streets, the ancient theatre and the 12,000 seat Roman stadium.
Also found at the site are the remains of Roman baths, the city’s imposing gates and a number of other ruins, including the impressive 2nd century AD Nymphaeum. In addition, many of the statues and other finds excavated at Perge can now be found in the Antalya Museum.
Getting to Perge
From Antalya centre take the AntRay tram to its eastern terminus (Meydan). From there it is possible to catch a minibus to Aksu and then walk to Perge or take a taxi. The distance from Aksu to the ruins is just 2 kilometres.