Perge Ancient City

Perge, or Perga Ancient City, was an important city of Pamphylia, and today takes place in the Aksu district of Antalya. Perge Ancient City is considered as one of the most beautiful cities of the Hellenistic period. Besides its beauty, Perge Ancient City witnessed so many significant historical events.

Three important historical periods were detected in the Perge Ancient City during the excavations made here. Those three important historical periods include the Late Classical Period, Hellenistic Period, and Roma Period. One can observe the architectural properties of those periods clearly in Perge Ancient City. Besides, Perge Ancient City is the homeland of the famous geometer Apollonius of Perga.

See also: Top 9 Ancient Cities and Sites You Must Visit in Turkey

See also: Antalya City Guide (History, Maps, Top Attractions, Transportation)

See also: Alanya: Where the Sun Smiles(Tips, Things to Do, Photos, Maps)

Visiting Perge Ancient City

Whether if you are purposely visiting Perge Ancient City, or you just want to evaluate your time in Antalya, you will not regret it. The history, the architecture, and the vibe of the Perge Ancient City are one hundred percent worth it.

Where is Perge Ancient City is Located on the Map of Turkey?

Perge Ancient City takes place in Antalya, which is a city on the south side of Turkey and in the Mediterranean Region.

How do you get to Perge Ancient City?

Perge Ancient City is located 18 kilometers east of the Antalya city center. If you want to get to Perge Ancient City from Antalya city center by car, then the trip will take around 20 minutes. You can also get to Perge Ancient City by public transportation. 

The easiest public transportation option that will take you from Antalya City Center to Perge Ancient City is by tram. You can take the tram of TB1 line from the Antalya City Center, and you need to stop at 15214 – Aksu station. The tram trip will take around 20 minutes, yet as you stop in this station, you still have some road to complete.

You can walk the distance from the station to Perge Ancient City if you would like, and it will take around 20 minutes. But if you do not want to walk, you can always take a taxi from Aksu station. The taxi will take you to Perge Ancient City from Aksu station in about 2 minutes, and it will cost you around 15 Turkish liras.

If you do not have a car, and you do not want to use public transportation to get to Perge Ancient City from Antalya city center, then you can choose to take a taxi from Antalya city center in the first place, but it can be a little bit pricey, as it will cost you around 100 Turkish liras.

The following table shows the approximate travel time by car to Perge Ancient City from different starting points.

 Km (miles)Approximate travel time by car
Antalya16.2 km (10 miles)20 minutes
Belek28,9 km (17,9 miles)30 minutes
Serik25,9 km (16 miles)25 minutes
Manavgat61,9 km (38,4 miles)55 minutes
Alanya120,4 km (74,8 miles)1 hour 40 minutes
Kemer61,8 km (38,4 miles)1 hour
Çıralı-Olympos116,1 km (72,1 miles)1 hour 50 minutes

Visiting Hours of Perge Ancient City

The visiting hours of the Perge Ancient City differ in the summertime and the wintertime. In the summertime, which is defined as the dates between 1 April and 1 October, you can visit the Perge Ancient City between 08:30 AM and 06:30 PM. In the wintertime, which is defined as the dates between 1 October and 1 April, you can visit the Perge Ancient City between 08:30 AM and 05:30 PM.

Entrance fee of Perge Ancient City

The entrance fee of the Perge Ancient City is 50 Turkish liras. If you have a type of museum pass that is valid on the Perge Ancient City, you do not need to pay the entrance fee. If you are a Turkish citizen or a foreigner with a residence permit in Turkey, you can use the museum card as well. 

How long to spend in Perge Ancient City

Even though people typically spend 1 hour in Perge Ancient City, you can spend a lot more time here. Insomuch that, exploring all around the city can take up to 4 hours. Of course, a quick tour can be easily completed in one hour. But if you want to fully see everything and explore it, it is recommended to spend more than one hour in the Perge Ancient City.

Best time to visit Perge Ancient City

Perge Ancient City is most crowded on Fridays, and 3 PM in general. If you do not like to be surrounded by people while exploring historical landmarks, Perge Ancient City is a lot less crowded on the weekends and Mondays. Besides, if you want to have a detailed tour in the Perge Ancient City, keep in mind not to get there when the closing hour is close.

History of Perge Ancient City

Unfortunately, it was not possible to trace the history of Perge Ancient City on its own, and researchers had to come up with the history of this ancient city tied to the Pamphylia region. As I mentioned earlier, Perge Ancient City had a great significance for the Pamphylia region and served as a capital city for that region.

Various caves and settlement areas from the prehistoric period were found in the Perge Ancient City. It can be inferred that Perge Ancient City was a convenient area for settlement long before the historic period, and the acropolis of the Perge Ancient City is today accepted as an area where the first settlement was detected in the prehistoric period.

Hittite Period

The evidence shows that Perge Ancient City had a great significance in Hittite Period. However, this significance of Perge Ancient City for the Hittite Period was not consistent, as it lost its importance in the late Hittite period. Instead, it can be considered as a small settlement area in the Hittite Period. Also, the influence of Hellenistic properties started to show themselves in the Hittite Period, on Perge Ancient City.

A significant amount of information about Perge Ancient City in the Hittite Period is present today due to the cuneiform texts engraved on bronze plates. The text engraved on the bronze plate describes an agreement between Tudhaliya IV and Kurunta. The agreement was about Perge Ancient City becoming independent in case any disagreement occurs.

Hellenistic Period

Hellenistic Period was one of the periods of Perge Ancient City, which took place between the years 323 – 30 BC. As Alexander the Great came to Anatolia and conquered many cities, he also took the Perge Ancient City in the year 333 BC.

An interesting part of Alexander the Great conquering Perge Ancient City is that no one defended the city against him. This means that Alexander the Great conquered the Perge Ancient City with ease, and without any wars. Yet, Perge Ancient City could not have any improvements in the Hellenistic Period due to the strife and struggles that needed to be deal with.

Roman Empire Period

After Alexander the Great, Perge Ancient City became a part of the Bergama Kingdom. After the last Bergama King died, Perge Ancient City became a part of the Roman Empire, due to the last Bergama King’s testament. Unlike the Hellenistic Period, Roman Period was quite a bright period for the Perge Ancient City. 

This bright period and the improvement of the city were mainly due to the Roman Empire’s condition at that point. Roman Empire was going through a phase that was called “Pax Romana”. This period of Roma was characterized by the domination of peace, serenity, and progress. 

Of course, this peace and serenity brought so many improvements with themselves. Such that, lots of gorgeous architectural masterpieces were built in this period. The constructions made it possible to create a renovated, organized, and planned city model which leads to Perge Ancient City today being referred to as one of the most organized Ancient Cities. Insomuch that, most of the structures that you will see while exploring the Perge Ancient City will most probably belong to the Roman Period.

After Roman Empire was divided into two as Western Rome and Eastern Rome, Perge Ancient City became a part of Eastern Rome. This situation also opened the way for some changes, and the city started to became Christianized step by step. In this period, basilicas were built in the city. Not only have that, but Perge Ancient City was considered as the second bishopric centered after Side.  

The Eastern Roman Period was also a good period for the Perge Ancient City, but unfortunately, it was the last bright period of it. As the 7th century AD begun, Perge Ancient City exposed to Arab occupations and got slowly got abandoned. 

Other Historical Information about Perge Ancient City

The founders of the Perge Ancient City are Mopsus, Kalkhas, Riksos, Labos, Machaon, Leonteus, and Minyasas, according to the inscriptions found in the area. Five of those seven founders of Perge Ancient City are known to be establishing their cities in South Anatolia later.

Evidence shows that Achaeans came to the Perge Ancient City in the 7th century BC. This information is also from an inscription found in the Perge Ancient City and tells us a lot about Perge’s colonization process as well. 

Architecture and Significant Structures of Perge Ancient City

Perge Ancient City has a unique architecture and city planning, such that something like this is quite rare according to those periods. As you walk around in the Perge Ancient City, you can feel different from other ancient cities you have visited earlier, and if it will be your first time in an ancient city, then get ready to feel different in any other ancient city you will be on.

People cannot help but wonder, how this city was like earlier as you wander around the Perge Ancient City. Unfortunately, structures are not completely sturdy as in every ancient city, but you can always complete them in your mind using your imagination. Keep in mind that some of the structures from the Perge Ancient City are today being exhibited in Antalya Museum.

Theatre

The theatre of the Perge Ancient City consists of three parts, yet the most interesting one is the stage. The stage has 5 doors that lead backstage. The stage walls of the theatre are full of reliefs, and those reliefs are not just random reliefs but they tell a story, which is about the wine God Dionysus’ life story.

The reason why these reliefs are so popular is that they remind people of movie scenes. As the stage part of the theatre collapsed, most of the reliefs about Dionysus’ life story got destroyed, but enough of them are still sturdy in order to understand what it was trying to be told. 

Of course, the other parts of the theatre are also important. The name for the place where the audience sits was “Cavea”, and the Orchestra part. The place for Orchestra was between the Cavea and the stage is just a little bit bigger than a semicircle. The cavea part had a capacity for 13000 people.

The orchestra area was also being used as a space for gladiator fights and wild animal fights. Researchers came up with this idea as all around the orchestra part was covered with balustrades, which is a sign of gladiator fights.

Stadium

The stadium is a significant structure of Perge Ancient City that is popular among visitors as it is one of the most well-preserved stadiums of the ancient world. The stadium was made from conglomerate rocks, which are found around the city, and has a long and thin rectangular plan. It can be said that the stadium was started to build in the second half of the 1st century AD, and had a capacity for 12000 people.

The south part of the stadium is open, whereas the north part which is shaped like a horseshoe is closeted. It has been thought that there was a monumental door on the south entrance of the stadium, but it was never found. The whole structure was built in a way that 70 arches are holding 11 rows of seats.

Inscriptions were found in the stadium, which has text on them that writes the name of the store owner and what kind of product they are selling. Those inscriptions made it possible to know that arch holes from the longer side of the stadium were being used as stores.

Agora

Agoras are an indispensable part of an ancient city, and you can see an agora in the Perge Ancient City as well. As in other cities, the agora was the part where the economy and trade of the city were mainly being practiced. 

Agora of the Perge Ancient City has a square plan and is full of columns. Agora was only being used as a trade and political center for the Perge people and statesmen. As you can guess, there were lots of stores in Agora, for people to get what they need and the owners to earn money. 

Agora has a wide courtyard in the middle part of it, and this courtyard has a circle-shaped building. Even though there is no certain evidence about what this building is, researchers think that this structure was being used as a temple. The stores were taking place in the surrounding area of the courtyard. 

The stores of the Agora of Perge Ancient City are different from most of the stores of the ancient world. The store doors of the Perge Ancient City were designed in a way that it could be open from both sides. Additionally, some reliefs engraved to the door of the doors were serving as the nameplate of the store. In other words, reliefs on the doors were clues about what the store was selling. 

Agora got the name Macellum in the Roman period, as Macellum was the name of the place of the closeted bazaar where you can find fish and meat in the Roman Empire. A difference is from the regular Roman Macellums and Perge Ancient City’s Macellum is that you could find lots of other stuff than meat and fish in there. 

Hellenistic Gate

Hellenistic wall of the Perge Ancient City has 3 gates, and the gate referred to while saying “Hellenistic gate” is the one that takes place on the south side of the city. This gate is a type of courtyard gate, and it is known that it was built in the 2nd century BC.

You can see the understanding of defense at that period in the Hellenistic gate. The Hellenistic gate is a monumental structure that is secured with two towers consisting of four floors and has an oval courtyard shape. Besides, the Hellenistic gate of Perge Ancient City carries the traces of three periods.

The Hellenistic gate exposed to some changes in the year 121 AD, and got the name “court of honor”. It is known that Hellenistic walls were covered with colorful marbles, and created an architectural style with columns in those periods. Additionally, God and legendary founder figures were engraved to the Hellenistic walls at this period as well. 

South Hammam (Bath)

Another well-preserved and popular structure of the Perge Ancient City is the south hammam. The south hammam has dazzling architecture and it is quite enormous. Besides, it has some monumental properties as in the other hammams built in the same periods.

It is known that there were different rooms with different functions in the south hamam. Those rooms included a dressing room, a room for a cold bath, a room for a hot bath, a room for a warm bath, a room for palaestra (body movements, a form of exercise).

The technology used in the south hamam is quite interesting, as it is still being used today. You might be familiar with the heating system that comes from the floor, and this system was used on the south hammam as a heating mechanism. One can observe the traces of different periods in the south hammam of Perge ancient city, from the 1st century AD to the 5th century AD. 

Columnar Main Street

The streets are an important part of the city planning of Perge Ancient City, and the columnar main street was the most important street. It is a very long street which will take a lot of time to travel. A water canal passes through the middle of the street, and it can be observed that it was very convenient for vehicles. 

Other Structures of the Perge Ancient City

Of course, the structures of the enormous Perge Ancient City are not limited to those. Other structures of the Perge Ancient City include the necropolis, which is unfortunately completely destroyed now, walls, monumental fountains, and gates.

Further Information and Tips

Visiting the Perge Ancient City can be very entertaining and informative. It is considered one of the most beautiful ancient cities in Turkey, and it is highly recommended to visit if you have the chance.

Keep in mind that Antalya can be very hot in the summertime, and prepare accordingly if you are visiting the Perge Ancient City in the summertime. Try not to get to Perge Ancient City in noon, when the sun is above you. If you have the chance, getting to Perge Ancient City in the morning is recommended. Do not forget to get a bottle of water and a hat with you. Of course, since exploring the Perge Ancient City requires lots of walking, make sure that you wore a comfortable pair of shoes.

Some of the structures of Perge Ancient City are not in the area now, if you want to see everything from the Perge Ancient City, make sure to visit the Antalya Museum as well. Some of the structures and sculptures from Perge Ancient City are today being exhibited in the Antalya Museum.

Even though you did not plan a detailed tour of the Perge Ancient City, make sure that you have a couple of extra hours to spend. You might need to rest or take a break while wandering around, and you would not want to miss the other things in the city. In other words, try to have a flexible schedule on your trip to Perge Ancient City. Have a nice trip!

Frequently asked questions about Perge Ancient City

Perge Ancient City is one of the most popular and dazzling ancient cities of Turkey, and it must be on your to-do list especially if you are visiting Antalya. The following are some of the most frequently asked questions about Perge Ancient City.

Where Perge Ancient City is located?

Perge Ancient City takes place in the Alanya district of Antalya.

Is an hour enough to explore Perge Ancient City?

As Perge Ancient City is quite a big area, an hour would not be enough to explore it. 

Are there tours to participate in in the Perge Ancient City?

Yes, if you do not want to miss anything and learn as much as you can, then you can participate in a tour. Tours can be found online.

How far is Perge Ancient City is from Antalya?

The distance between Perge Ancient City and Antalya is around 17 – 20 kilometers, depending on which road you choose.

What is the best season to visit Perge Ancient City?

It is recommended to visit Perge Ancient City in the wintertime or the springtime. Since the climate of Antalya is very warm and it can be very hot in the summertime, the weather can lower the quality of your time in the Perge Ancient City. But of course, with enough preparation, you can have a nice day in the Perge Ancient City in the summertime as well.

İsmail Çamönü

Hi! I am Ismail. I am a digital nomad from Turkey. I lived in many cities around Turkey during my life and I am passionate about traveling. At Nomad's Guide to Turkey, I share travel tips for nomads, expats, and tourists who would like to visit Turkey.

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