The Pergamon Museum with its Greek temple from antiquity, the Ishtar Gate from Babylon, and Islamic art is the most-popular museum in Berlin.
The Pergamon Museum on Museum Island is the most-visited museum in Berlin. The museum covers architectural structures from classical antiquity, important items from the ancient Near East, and one of the largest collections of Islamic Art in the world. The top must-see sights in the Pergamon Museum include the Greek Pergamon Altar, the Roman Market Gate of Miletus, the Ishtar Gate and Processional Way of Babylon, the stone façade of the caliph’s palace of Mshatta, and the Aleppo Room. Buy tickets online with timeslot admission (Tiqets or Get Your Guide), or make free time reservations when using discount combination savings tickets.
Top Collections in the Pergamon Museum in Berlin
The Pergamon Museum in Berlin houses three world-class collections of the Staatlichen Museen zu Berlin:
- Classical Antiquities / Antikensammlung – one of the world’s most important collections of Greek and Roman art.
- Museum of the Ancient Near East / Vorderasiatische Museum – 6,000 years of cultural history from mainly Mesopotamia, Syria, and Anatolia.
- Museum of Islamic Art / Museum für Islamische Kunst – one of the largest collections of Islamic art in the world.
The six most-popular must-see items in the Pergamon Museum are:
- The Pergamon Altar – A Greek temple façade – not currently open to the public (but some items may be seen in the special Pergamon Das Panorama exhibition.)
- The Ishtar Gate of Babylon – impossible to miss and the largest part is not even on display.
- The Market Gate of Miletus – a Roman façade and the largest object from antiquity rebuilt inside a museum.
- Mshatta Palace Façade – a decorated wall from the caliph’s palace in Jordan (around 740 AD).
- Aleppo Room – the 400-year-old painted wood panels from a rich merchant’s house in Aleppo.
- Alhambra Cupola – a carved wooden ceiling from Spain.
TIP: Plan on spending at least two to three hours in the Pergamon Museum but if rushed, at least see the six most-popular items
The Classical Antiquities Collection in the Pergamon Museum
Only a small selection of the Berlin State Museums antiquities collection is on display in the Pergamon Museum but these generally are the largest architectural items. The rest of the antiquities collection is in the Altes and Neues Museum – see Berlin State Museums – What Is Seen Where? for more details.
The Greek Pergamon Altar
The Pergamon Altar that the museum is named after, is not actually an altar but rather the full front of a Greek temple from the 2nd century BC. Not only the friezes but also columns were brought to Berlin allowing a third of the original temple to be reconstructed in full size. The main theme of the frieze depicts the Olympian gods in battle with the Giants.
The Altar, and the rest of the Greek collection, is not currently on display due to the construction work in the museum. It may be several years before it is again open to the public.
A special temporary exhibition – Pergamonmuseum. Das Panorama – will run until 2024 and will show some of the Pergamon sculptures in addition to a huge 360° panorama painting by Yadegar Asisi.
2025/6 has been mentioned for full access but Berlin’s record on completing major building projects on time is not exactly 100%. Glimpses of the temple may be possible earlier.
The Market Gate of Miletus in the Pergamon Museum, Berlin
The façade of the Roman market gate from Miletus is the largest reconstruction of a monument from antiquity inside a museum. This 2nd century AD gate from Miletus in Asia Minor is nearly 16 m high and 29 m wide. Around 60% of the display is from original material.
Several further large Roman statues and architectural features are on display. Arguably the most impressive is the large floor mosaic from a private home with two scenes: Orpheus playing the lyre surrounded by enchanted animals contrasted by a more violent hunting scene in an adjacent room.
Museum of the Ancient Near East in the Pergamon
The largest part of the Pergamon Museum is currently used for the Museum of the Ancient Near East. This collection consists of 270,00 items but only a small fraction is on display, especially the larger items.
With the Pergamon Altar not open to the public, the huge and colorful Ishtar Gate with parade street is the undisputed star item in the museum.
The Ishtar Gate from Babylon in the Pergamon Museum
The Ishtar Gate is a town gate from Babylon from the 6th century BC. The display consists of the glazed tiles used for the outer gate and a processional way leading up to the town gate – the larger inner gate is too big to display.
The glazed tiles are mostly blue but also include depictions of several large animals in relief. Visitors face lions along the processional way but at the gate bulls and mystical dragons are used.
Side panels in similar colors on display are from the throne room of the palace of Nebuchadnezzar II.
The rest of the displays are mostly large, even colossal, sculptures, steles (ceremonial columns) and large wall relief carvings from Assyria. These include the earliest written known documents: cuneiform scripts on clay tablets from Uruk dating from the 4th millennium BC.
Museum of Islamic Art in the Pergamon
The Museum of Islamic Art fills the top floor of the Pergamon Museum. It is one of the largest collections in the world and covers art from the 7th to 19th centuries. The large items are the most impressive but it is worth also admiring the intricate and fine details in smaller items.
The Mshatta Façade is the largest item in the Islamic Art museum and is part of a lavishly decorated dessert castle wall built in Jordan around AD 740 for the caliph. The façade on display is 5 m high and 33 m wide – the rest of the original ruins are still next to Amman airport in Jordan.
This facade was a present from the sultan to Kaiser Wilhelm II in 1904 and led directly to the foundation of the Museum of Islamic Art – the first major one outside the Islamic world.
The Alhambra Cupola is a domed, carved wooden ceiling that was brought to Germany from Granada in Spain in 1891. It was originally carved around 1320 and used in a viewing tower at the Palacio del Partal.
The Aleppo Room is an ornately painted room from the house of a rich trader in Aleppo in Syria made between 1600 and 1603. The excellently preserved wall panel paintings includes Christian, Jewish, Persian, East Asian and Arabic motives. The panels are 260 cm high and 35 m wide in total. Further exhibitions in the Islamic Art Museum include carpets, books, prayer niches, jewellery, ceramics, carved ivory and decorated household objects.
Pergamon Museum Berlin Visitors Information
Tickets for the Pergamon Museum
Admission tickets for the Pergamon Museum are €12 and free for children up to 18 years old. An excellent free audio guide is included. Buy Pergamon tickets online from Tiqets or Get Your Guide and use the phone code or a print out.
When buying tickets for the Pergamon Museum only, a timeslot for admission should be specified. When buying any of the discount offers below, make free online reservations at the Pergamon Museum website.
With time slot admission codes, skip the waiting line outside the museum by showing the ticket at the door. Pick up a free audio guide and then have the code on a phone (or paper printout) scanned directly at the entrance to the collection without passing by the ticket counter.
A variety of combination discount savings tickets for the Pergamon Museum are available:
- €18,00 – Museum Island Ticket: admission to all SMB museums on Museum Island for a day. Buy from Tiqets and use the phone code or printout.
- €19 – Pergamon Museum and Das Panorama exhibition on the same day.
- €29 – Museum Pass Berlin: unlimited admission to over 30 top museums in Berlin on three consecutive days including the Pergamon and all Museum Island museums. (A great deal that can easily pay for itself in a single day: Buy from any participating museum, or online from Get Your Guide but a paper print out usually have to be exchanged for a ticket at an information office.)
- €45 – Berlin Welcome Card 72h + Museum Island: gives all the transportation and savings advantages of the regular Welcome Card plus free admission to the Museum Island museums – a surcharge is payable for the Pergamonmuseum. Das Panorama exhibition. (Note: the regular Berlin Welcome Card does not give admission or any discounts for the Pergamon or any other of the Berlin State Museums.) Buy from Get Your Guide online (but a paper print out usually have to be exchanged for a ticket at an information office.).
- €25 to €100 – Annual Membership Passes: admission for a year to all 19 Staatliche Museen zu Berlin museums.
TIP: None of these savings passes, except the €100 annual membership pass, is skip-the-line tickets – make free timeslot reservations online for the Pergamon and Neues Museums. However, at most of the state museum it is possible to go directly to the entrance of the museum and bypass the ticket window completely.
Opening Hours for the Pergamon Museum
The Pergamon Museum is open daily from 10:00 to 18:00, closing at 20:00 on Thursday.
On Museum Island, only the Pergamon and Neues Museums are open on Mondays but they provide sufficient displays for a full day of sightseeing.
The Pergamon Museum is open on most vacation days but not on December 24 and usually shorter hours on December 31 and January 1.
TIP: Free time-slot reservations are very sensible to avoid queuing outside the museum. The museum is generally busiest in the mornings and all day on weekends. Thursday late afternoon and early evening are usually quieter.
Transportation to the Pergamon Museum
The Pergamon Museum, Bodestraße 1-3, 10178 Berlin, is on Museum Island in Mitte in the heart of Berlin. The only entrance to the Pergamon Museum is through the modern Simon James Gallery that opened in July 2019.
The old entrance off Am Kupfergraben and the temporary entrance between the Neues Museum and Alte Nationalgalerie ares closed.
More on the Berlin State Museum (Staatliche Museen zu Berlin)
For more general information on the Berlin State Museums:
- Top National Museum and Galleries in Berlin (brief overview)
- Berlin State Museum What Is Seen Where? (a short description of the collections in the different museums)
- New Opening Hours of Berlin State Museum from September 2020
- Regular opening hours not currently in use: Berlin State Museums Opening Hours (9 to 5 was always going to be too simple)
- Ticket Prices for Berlin State Museums (prices for museums, temporary exhibitions, combination tickets, online time-slot reservations). Buying online from Tiqets or GetYourGuide is a lot simpler and cost the same as the official museum website. Timeslot reservations are essential for ALL museums from September 2020 until further notice!
- Save with the Berlin Museum Pass – 30 museums in three days for €29 – a fantastic savings deal.
- The Welcome Berlin Card All-Inclusive is pricy but includes admission to all museums and top sights.
- Staatliche Museen zu Berlin (official website in German & English)
News & Temporary Exhibitions:
- Top Special Exhibitions in 2020: Highlights, in Kulturforum, on Museum Island, in the Hamburger Bahnhof, and smaller museums.
- For special contemporary art exhibitions in 2019 in Berlin see the Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für Gegenwart and
- Top Temporary Art Exhibition in Berlin for other major special exhibitions in 2019.
- The Humboldt Forum in the Berlin Schloss likely to open in 2021.
- The Friederichswerdersche Kirche reopens 27 Ocotber 2020, as an exhibition space for sculptures of the Alte Nationalgalerie.
- The James Simon Gallery has opened as an additional entrance to the Pergamon and Neues Museum. Large special exhibitions are usually seen with the Neues Museum ticket (with surcharge likely).
- The Neue Nationalgalerie with twentieth-century art (up to 1970) remains closed for renovations.
More Museums Reviews and Museum Specific Information: