Yesterday was rainy and gray, so I spent several hours exploring two museums – the Pergamon and Neues. Both are on Berlin’s Museum Island.
The famous Pergamon is known as a “visitor magnet”. It’s named after the Kingdom of Pergamon an ancient city in northwest Turkey. During the Hellenistic Period (281–133 BC) Pergamon was a major cultural center.
Expansion and renovation are in process, but the museum is still open to the public. I’ve walked by the Pergamon many times and viewed it from different exterior vantage points. Finding the entrance amidst the construction was a bit like following a maze!
The Pergamon is adding a fourth wing to house the “monumental architectural exhibits of Egypt, the Near East, Greece, Rome, and the Islamic culture”. Renovations are set for completion by 2026, and some halls are closed during the process.
Impressive antiquities collections at Pergamon include:
- Islamic Cultures
- Pergamon Altar, Ishtar Gate, Gate of Miletus, Mschatta Façade
- Museum of the Ancient Near East
- Museum of Islamic Art
The Museum of the Ancient Near East is one of the world’s most important museums of oriental antiquities. With 2,000 sq. meters (21,500 sq. ft.) of space, “it portrays 6,000 years of art, history, and culture in the Middle East”.
The collection includes “major architectural monuments, reliefs, and smaller objects excavated by German scientists”. These treasures come from the “Sumerian, Babylonian, Assyrian, and Northern Syriac-Eastern Anatolian regions – today’s Iraq, Syria, and Turkey”.
The fascinating reconstruction of several ancient Babylon buildings includes:
- Ishtar Gate
- Throne Room Façade of King Nebuchadnezzar II (604-562 BC)
- Professional Way
The walls of Ishtar Gate are made of exquisite original tiles composed of “numerous fragments”. The stunning images of lions, bulls, and snake-dragons are symbols of Babylon’s main deities. Some highlights are described below.
Built around 575 BC during the reign of King Nebuchadnezzar II, Ishtar Gate was the eighth gate to the City of Babylon. The magnificent gate was dedicated to the Babylonian Goddess of War – Ishtar. As part of the city walls of ancient Babylon, Ishtar Gate is one of the original Seven Wonders of the World.
Market Gate of Miletus
The Market Gate of Miletus is a Roman gate from a 2nd century AD Asian town called Miletus. The marble gate has three passages and combines Greek, Roman, and Hellenistic architectural elements. Not surprisingly, some of the statues are similar to ruins I’ve seen in Turkey, Greece, and Italy.
Mschatta Façade is a 33-meter-long (110 feet) piece of wall from a desert castle in Jordan. Transported from Jordan, each segment of the massive wall is unique. The elaborate reliefs reminded me of temples at Angkor Wat Cambodia.
Collection of Turkish Carpets and Tiles
Turkish carpets and tiles have been a fascination. I have several Turkish carpets in my home and smile every time I look at them. The Pergamon carpet exhibit is amazing. Some tiles displayed are reminiscent of those in Istanbul’s glorious Blue Mosque.
Neues – Humboldt Forum Highlights
The Humboldt Forum Exhibition at the Neues (New) Museum highlights objects from America and Micronesia and includes artifacts from the:
- Egyptian Museum and Papyrus Collection
- Museum of Prehistory and Early History
- Collection of Classical Antiquities
“The collections provide insight into ancient culture evolution stretching from the Middle East to the Atlantic and from North Africa to Scandinavia.” The full program of Humboldt Forum Highlights is on their website.
“The Humboldt Forum invites people to find out how things in our world are related, discovering the strange in the familiar and the familiar in the strange. Visitors explore, experience, and understand the world as a whole through exhibitions and events.”
Egyptian exhibits include images of royalty, burial chambers, and Queen Nefertiti. Pre and early history and archaeology reflect culture and history from the Stone Age to the Middle Ages. Some of the excellent exhibits include:
Stone figures from Central America reminded me of pre-Columbian archaeological sites visited at San Agustín Archaeological Park in San Agustin Colombia in 2015. The Barrigón figures from Guatemala were fascinating as was the Aztec eagle snake Cuauhcoatl, a Mexican national symbol.
Photography was tough with the lighting and glare. Sorry, but not all photos have captions. After three hours, my brain was fried. These spectacular museums require several visits and a few guided tours to comprehend!
The collections look amazing. I think we should bear in mind these large city museums are designed for the residents, who might only look at one gallery per visit. They are a bit much for the average tourist to absorb in one hit. But what a collection!