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Perge – pearl of Roman East

This post is also available in: Polish (polski)


In December 2019, I was in Turkey, where I had the opportunity to visit the ruins of cities from the Roman period. Today I will share with you my impressions from visiting one of them: Perge.

When we think of the magnificent, monumental architecture of the cities of the Roman Empire, we first imagine the capital itself with its Colosseum, Circus Maximus, basilicas, baths, imperial forums, etc. Of course, no other city in the Empire could match Rome in size and wealth, but in some respects, many provincial urban centers boasted buildings and avenues that the people of Rome might have envied. And that’s what I thought when I visited the ruins of Perge. The sight of its monumental, straight, wide streets decorated on both sides with colonnades and pavements, and additionally having canals with running water and sewage systems, made a colossal impression on me. The main street had a width exceeding 20 meters in some places (not counting the width of the colonnades). At the same time, Rome was built very densely and chaotically. Although after the fire of 64 CE Nero ordered the widening of the streets and the provision of porticos to the houses, I do not know if any of the capital’s streets have ever been as spectacular as the main avenues of Perge.

This urban momentum of Perge is particularly vivid when we mention that in terms of area, this city is comparable to, for example, Pompeii. In fact, against the background of Perge, Pompeii looks like a seedy, provincial town.

Today I will only share photos of the main streets of the city, which I took on a December afternoon just before the excavation site closed. Without crowds of tourists, shortly after a storm left puddles the size of lakes in the ruins.

Finally, a little reflection: it is really amazing how much some of the solutions used in ancient cities are replicated to this day. Not far from Perge is the modern capital of this Turkish region – Antalya. One of the modern streets of this city has exactly the same canal running through the middle of the street as ancient Perge. A similar solution was also used on the promenade in tourist Kemer. As you can see, antiquity can be very inspiring! :)

Author: Michał Kubicz - sekrety Rzymu (translated from Polish: Jakub Jasiński)

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