The Great Altar at Pergamon

Photo of Pergamon site
  • Pergamon site. Photo. M.Hirmer
Photo of Great Altar in Berlin
  • The Great Altar removed to Berlin. Photo: R.R.R.Smith Hellenistic Sculpture fig.193

This unusal monument was built sometime in the mid 2nd century BC. Most of it was excavated and brought to Berlin around 1886.

Pergamon groundplan
  • Groundplan of The Great Altar. Drawing: Florence Maskell

We do not know how long it took to construct, why some parts of it are unfinished, or to which god it was dedicated. It consists of a colonnaded building standing on a large podium with a wide flight of stairs at the front. This building, decorated inside with a frieze depicting the life-story of Telephos, housed the altar proper. A frieze round the podium shows the battle between gods and Giants. Various small sculptures stood on the roof.

More about the east podium frieze | west podium frieze | north podium frieze | interior frieze