Pergamon's Ancient Theater

Most Greek city-states had theaters. Pergamon, or modern Bergama, near Miletus in Turkey, has a well-preserved theater that held 10,000 people. The steep slope afforded a marvelous view of the landscape, but the stage held people's attention. The 78 rows of seats are divided into three sections, built into the natural cliff of the acropolis. Pergamon has been continuously excavated since 1878 by the German Archaeological Institute.

Pergamon is best known for the sculptural decoration on the altar of Zeus. In the late 19th century, the Germans transported the altar of Zeus to Berlin. They reconstructed it along with other ancient structures in its own museum, a six-story building the size of a football field.

The Greek city-state of Pergamon is relatively young, established in the fourth century B.C., and was at the peak of its power in the third and second centuries B.C., when the theater was built.