Perge and Side: The 'Mad Men' or Rival Cities of Roman Pamphylia
University College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland
This paper compares two great Pamphylian rivals, the Roman cities of Side, a harbour on a treacherous coastline extending across a cornet of land and Perge, provincial capital, ‘lying in between and upon the sides of two hills’. Their distinctive topography and urban form is graphically demonstrated by the significant role played by landscape in shaping their planimetric development, resulting in ambitious adjustment of set-pieces of Roman trophy-building.
Both cities were aggrandized to create impressions of enduring munificence, with an emphasis on display creating a visual theatre of interconnecting spaces. In each city, architectural accents were placed at strategic locations: the city gate with a triumphal arch and nymphaeum as part of colonnaded streetscape, the armature as core. Both recreated notions of urban grandeur as existed in the great cities of Pergamon and Alexandria. The underlying presence of Hellenistic planning conceits was prevalent. In Perge, the acropolis and lower city were linked through associated forms of steps and porticoes. The grandeur of these unified elements was re-enacted in their Romanisation. Perge’s city gate was an elaborate feature, which enlivened this quarter creating an imposing urban moment. This exercise in urban scenography monumentalized the city and established privileged viewpoints. Side unfurled itself through an arched gateway at right angles to the forum and incorporated the harbour via a colonnaded walkway. This realignment of the main street made reference to the organic development of the city emphasized by a curve. Some unpublished drawings by C.R. Cockerell (recently re-discovered in the Gennadius Library, Athens), are the only extant views of the Romanised city: the circular temple in the forum and the nymphaeum at the city gate. Both cities grew in astonishing proportions adapting their plans to the landscape which reflected personal munificence of their inhabitants and due reference to imperial presence.