Berlin and Pergamon

Wednesday 20 to Friday 22 March

A quick visit to see Hayden and Andrea in Berlin, to catch up on washing and just relax. We really appreciate having a comfortable home without any pressure to rush out and see as much as possible.

We shared cooking. Bruce always carries his apron, just in case.

Our only tourist requirement for this visit was the Pergamon Museum. We didn’t know that it was under an eight year renovation process.

We had visited the site of Pergamon in the west of Turkey in 2012, but most of the good stuff had been removed to Berlin from the late 19th century through until the 1960s. The Pergamon Museum in Berlin was opened in 1907.

As it turns out, the main attraction at the Pergamonmuseum, The Pergamon Altar is closed until 2024, as the museum is renovated.

We were disappointed and angry with ourselves for our lack of preparation. €19 (more than $AUD30) seemed like a lot of money for half an exhibition with some panorama added on.

We debated and argued and I approached the ticket counter three times before deciding to purchase the tickets.

There is no doubt that the first thing you see when you enter is amazing. The Ishtar Gate and the Processional Way of Babylon is enormous, grand, majestic and utterly overwhelming. Images of the animals and the lower rosette and band friezes of the gate have been reconstructed from broken tiles that were pieced together when they arrived in Berlin in 1928. Other tiles that make up the length and breadth of the gate were made using ancient techniques.

The gate was built during the reign of Nebuchadnezzar II in Babylon during the 6th century BC and was dedicated to Ishtar, an ancient Goddess of love, beauty, sex, desire, fertility, war, justice and political power. She was known as the ‘Queen of Heaven’.

Next was the Market Gate of Miletus, a typical Roman façade from around 100AD. It decorated the Agora square in the city centre and formed a passage way to the Southern Market. Miletus was on the western coast of Antolia in modern day Turkey.

The gate was also enormous and outstandingly beautiful. Sometime between the 6th and 8th century AD the gate was included in fortifications encircling the city centre.

In front of it was a spectacular mosaic.

We went on to see monumental reliefs from battlements dating to the 9th century BC, a granite water basin from the 7th century BC and reconstruction of a chamber in a Palace from Ashur, an Assyrian city on the west bank of the Tigrus River in Northern Iraq. The city reached its peak during the reigns of Tukylti-Ninurta I (1244-1208 BC) and Tiglath-pileser I (1115-1077 BC). Although it lost its importance as a political city, it remained a significant religious centre.

Another part of the museum was dedicated to Islamic Art. There were two beautiful Mirhabs.  The first from Kashan in Iran from the 13th century AD. We had visited Kashan, a beautiful city known for the its gardens in 2015 .

The other prayer niche was from the 13th century Beyhekim Mosque in Konya Turkey.

There was also a wall niche from a town house in Damascus which was occupied by Samaritans, a religious community related to Judaism. It looked remarkably similar.

The Aleppo Room wall panelling (approx. 1600) was beautiful. The former owner was ‘Jesus, son of Peter’ a merchant belonging to the Christian community. The artwork was a combination of Arabic design and Christian iconic figures.

Having exhausted the museum, we stopped for a short lunch break and headed across the road to the temporary adjunct where the Pergamon Panorama was housed.

I was blown away by the ‘panorama’, having made up my mind that this was just like any other. In fact it was a 3D illustration of the entire Pergamon that measures 30m in height and 104m in circumference set in a circular theatre. A five story viewing platform sits in the middle of the room, allowing you to view the multiple terraces that make up the city from below or above or somewhere in between.

Actors dressed in traditional clothing were photographed as reference to recreate a realistic scene. Years of research into the archaeological collections were used to recreate the building images.

Light moves around the panorama, creating an illusion of day and night.

It was originally created by Yadegar Asisi in 2011/2012. It is one of 16 panoramas the artist from Leipzig has created. 

I think we got our €19 each worth.