Leaving Izmir, we headed north and spent most of the day in Pergamum, now modern Bergama, aka, the place "where Satan's throne is." (Rev 2:13 - This could be a reference to the prominent Temple of Trajan, since Pergamum had a leading role in imperial worship.) When we had visited 7 years ago, there had been a light snow overnight, but it had cleared up by late morning, and the whole place was brillantly white. As you can see from the pics this time, we again had a beautiful day, and it was no less striking. 35 pics HERE.
The big development here is that there is now a cable car service you must use to get to the acropolis. It was a challenge for buses before to wind the way up to the small parking area, and the new system is quite nice. I didn't notice much new with the excavations.
From the Acropolis, we next stopped at the Red Hall, a building originally used for worship of Egyptian deities and later converted into a Christian church. We went next to the Asklepion. Again, nothing new that I recognized, but all these sites are well worth the visit.
I did especially appreciate Pergamum, because I had been reading (and since finished) Bruce W. Longenecker's The Lost Letters of Pergamum, The: A Story from the New Testament World
It is a historical fiction of a correspondence between Antipas--who is mentioned in Rev 2:13 as having been martyred in Pergamum--and Luke who is helping explain Jesus to Antipas as he is reading Luke's account of Jesus. I think it does an excellent job of highlighting the honor / shame dynamics of that time. It illustrates how radical Christianity must have seemed in the culture of that time and the sort of sacrifices Christians would have made to remain faithful. The book is well-written, and I highly recommend it.
Before heading to Canakkale for the night, we stopped at the Bergama Weavers' Association for a chance to see how Turkish rugs are made.