Pergamon Museum, Berlin History of the Museum Designed by Alfred Messel, and later Ludwig Hoffman, the Pergamon Museum was built to complement the nearby Kaiser-Wilhelm Museum (now the Bode Museum), which had grown too small to house the artifacts garnered from German excavations throughout the world. The idea for the new museum came about in 1907 and completion took 20 years – from 1910 to 1930. It opened during one of Germany’s most turbulent periods and was subsequently largely destroyed in the bombing of Berlin during World War II. Fortunately, many of the pieces had been stored elsewhere for safe keeping and a number of the museum’s larger pieces were “walled in” for protection. In 1945, a portion of the original collection was taken to Russia and is still housed in the Hermitage and the Pushkin Museums there. Many items were returned in the late 1950s but, due to Russian restitution laws, some still remain in those two museums. The Collections The Pergamon Museum is divided into three distinct sections: the Antiquity Collection, the Islamic Art Museum, and the Near East Museum. The Department of Greek and Roman Antiquities is usually lauded as the most magnificent part of the museum. Guests will be treated to several large-scale pieces, like the Pergamon Altar (180-160 B.C.), which is so huge that it requires an entire room. Constructed in Pergamon as an altar to Zeus, the gigantic structure is the centerpiece of the museum. Just a few years ago, the altar’s marble frieze was restored to the tune of nearly $3 million! The Near East Museum is lauded as one of the largest and finest collections of antiquities from ancient Babylonia, Persia, and Assyria. The ancient Oriental treasures found here include 6,000 years of Near East history and include 14 rooms covering 2,000 square meters (over 21,000 square feet.) Don’t miss the Ishtar Gate of Babylon and the façade of the throne hall of King Nebuchadnezzar. There is also a model of the Tower of Babel in the Babylonian Hall.turkeyarena.com The Islamic Art Museum, focused mainly on the Middle East including Egypt and Iran, features the art of Islam from the eighth through the nineteenth centuries. Guests can view architectural decorations, ceramics, jewelry, metalwork, wood carvings, textiles, and calligraphic works.