Located on Museum Island in central Berlin, the Pergamon Museum is an exceptional window into history. Constructed between 1910 and 1930, it houses the Pergamon Altar, Ishtar Gate of Babylon and the Market Gate of Miletus, among many other treasures brought by German archeologists from Turkey and the Middle East. It also has space for rotating exhibits of classical and modern Islamic art and special exhibits on Middle Eastern history.
The history of Germanic collections of antiquities dates back to an acquisition by the royal family of a collection of Roman artifacts in 1698. The current iteration of the museum came about because of the volume of artifacts excavated by German-led teams at the turn of the 20th century. The centerpiece of the museum is Pergamon Altar, constructed as part of the acropolis in the city of Pergamon in the 2nd century BC and excavated by Alexander Conze and Carl Humann between 1878 and 1886. The Ottoman and German governments reached an agreement in 1879 to allow the excavated relief panels to be displayed in Berlin, in part as an attempt to preserve them from stone robbers.
So, worth it? Sadly, right now, no. The Pergamon museum is stunning and there is nothing quite like walking into the hall that houses the altar and being dwarfed by its size and beauty. But the museum began extensive renovations in 2012, closing the altar room to the public in 2014. The renovations are expected to be completed in 2026. Until then, parts of the museum are still accessible to the public, but because admission is still full price for less than half of the offerings and because the wait to get in can be over an hour, it’s not advisable to try to go.