The Izmir Metropolitan Municipality Council, in its meeting held on August 12, 2020, at the Bergama Asklepeion, unanimously decided to initiate the necessary efforts to bring back the Zeus Altar to Bergama, currently located in the Berlin Pergamon Museum. Following this decision, the endeavors to restore the Zeus Altar in Bergama were incorporated into the Izmir Heritage of the World strategy within the Izmir Heritage program led by the Izmir Planning Agency.
The Izmir Heritage of the World strategy aims to develop projects to preserve Izmir's 8,500 years of cultural heritage, its transmission to future generations, and increasing its recognition worldwide under the theme of circular culture in harmony with our past. Additionally, it aims to integrate cultural heritage into local and regional sustainable development, contributing to the city's economy.
Bergama, a district of Izmir, is home to the Zeus Altar and, therefore, the birthplace of the Pergamon Museum. However, the relationship between Izmir, Bergama, and the Zeus Altar is not well-known. For example, although the Zeus Altar attracts nearly one million tourists annually, Bergama, the home of the altar, receives very few visitors, and it is not widely known that Bergama is also part of Izmir. According to the Izmir Tourism Strategy, Bergama is visited by only 40,000 local and foreign tourists annually.
The Izmir Heritage of the World strategy is designed to convey that the Zeus Altar is a testament to the Anatolian civilization in the Bergama and Izmir regions and that modern Izmir embraces this civilization.
In this context, the Izmir Heritage of the World strategy is designed in three stages:
Stage 1: Izmir Heritage of the World: Bergama
Stage 2: The Home of Pergamon: Izmir
Stage 3: Zeus Altar Post-Relocation Action Plan
Bergama is the focal point of the first stage, both spatially and nominally. In this initial phase of the campaign, international events and meetings will be organized to raise awareness within Izmir about the importance of this world heritage. This stage, consisting of nine actions, will strive for increasing the visibility of the cultural heritage in Bergama and promote actions in Izmir to preserve this unique heritage.
The second stage aims to extend the promotion of Izmir’s rich civilization beyond Turkey. This stage encompasses a series of five actions, with a key focus on the “The Home of Pergamon: Izmir” traveling exhibition. The aim is to showcase and promote Izmir’s cultural heritage, including Bergama's significant contributions. This comprehensive promotion highlights the interconnectedness of Izmir and Bergama as integral components of the region's cultural legacy.
The third stage is planned to facilitate research on the restoration of the Zeus Altar. Collaborations with renowned universities and institutions in the field of displaced cultural assets will be established to prepare a relocation and post-relocation strategy and action plan for the Zeus Altar.