We’re really excited about our adventure to Perge, which is where all those shiny-pants museum statuary came from. We’ve been researching Antalya’s flash new tram system and with the help of a kind woman who watched our frustrations trying to decipher the transit card vending machine and stepped up to help us, we purchased our very own plastic card which can be used by both of us. I guess they figure you’re going to share anyhow so what the hell.
The next test is guessing how much lira to put on the card. Turns out the A tram line goes out to Perge and has a spur line B to the airport. How close it comes is anyone’s guess, but I was able to find a tram stop about twenty minutes from our guesthouse, most of it up a steep winding road through the old town. Everything went smoothly, and I mean the tram just glides along like it has nothing to do with the hard steel rails underneath. Clean, modern, and comfortable, the only stress was remembering where to get off because Perge is nowhere to be seen on the monitor.
After about an hour Marce suddenly said, “This is it.” The tram was elevated at this point but there was very little to see, kind of a dusty burbs vibe. We followed everyone else down the very long concrete staircase to the ground, and did the Escape Velocity wander-around-and-guess-which-direction-to-walk trick. I was under the impression there would be a taxi at this juncture but the taxi drivers figured they have us at a disadvantage and in Turkey you never want that scenario. I guess we showed them.
Thirty-five minutes later, dusty, hot, and exhausted we wandered into the Perge gift shop. One bottle of cold coke and one bottle of cold water and we were off toward what the sign said, “This way to the ruins.”
First thing we saw were two colossal round towers, probably part of Perge’s main gate. It’s meant to be intimidating, and they are definitely humbling. Just beyond the gate is an amazing forest of one-piece marble columns.
This is a huge city. There’s a very large market square surrounded by dozens of buildings, homes or warehouses. You be the judge. We would have appreciated a guide of some sort, an app, an audio tour maybe, at the very least a brochure with a map. Marce asked at the ticket booth but they have nothing. There are a few signs but we were mostly on our own.
After the market bit, you’d have to call this a boulevard, over a mile long with water running down the center canal, bridges over the stream and one piece marble columns as far as the eye can see.
I was compelled to see everything that I could and that meant reaching the end.
After about a mile the main boulevard forms an intersection continuing straight into the hills.
The intersecting road to the right quickly deteriorated into rubble, however the left wing was really interesting.
It eventually ends in a massive pile of stone blocks.
It must have been an impressive building judging by the sheer size of the pile of stone blocks at the end of the street.
We still haven’t seen inside the incredible theater that gave up a lot of sculptures to the museum but that will involve retracing our steps down the “miracle mile,” back through the market square, main gate, and gift shop, not to mention the parking lot and out the long driveway to carefully cross the highway. It was worth it.
No one else was in the theater which seats over 12,000 with a 3-story stage more than 52 meters long which easily enhances the moody, spooky feel of the place.
It boggles the mind when you consider who might have sat in the hard stone seat that you’re sitting on.
It’s easy to tell where the sculptures were but access to the backstage area is blocked off due to an unstable structure. This is the kind of place you have to tear yourself away from just to leave. Golden, late afternoon sun was angling down into the theater reminding us that we are far from home and we still have a bit of a hike to do.
Exploring the stadium will have to wait for another time. We’ve got a tram to catch.