Pergamon Museum – Berlin, Germany - Atlas Obscura

Pergamon Museum

The most visited, and possibly most controversial, museum in Germany. 


Situated on Berlin’s Museum Island, the Pergamon Museum houses original, reconstructed monumental buildings such as the Pergamon Altar and the Market Gate of Miletus. Both of these extraordinary artifacts were transported from Turkey, and since its opening in 1930, there has been controversy over the legitimacy of the acquisition of the collection. Many have suggested that the collection be returned to Turkey.

When the Pergamon Museum was severely damaged during an air strike at the end of the Second World War, many objects were stolen. Although many of the major pieces were safely secured, the Red Army collected all of the loose museum items, either as war booty or for safe keeping from the looting and fires that were then raging in Berlin.

In 1958, most of the objects returned to East Germany, but a few significant items of the collection simply remained in Russia. Many of them are now housed in the Pushkin Museum in Moscow and the Hermitage in Saint Petersburg. While Germany is debating whether these artifacts should be returned, Russia currently has no plans to return their items to Turkey, or back to Germany.

Know Before You Go

Extensive renovation of the Pergamon Museum is currently being carried out. The main Pergamonsaal, which houses the famous Pergamon Altar, is off-limits until 2019 at the earliest. The entire south wing, featuring the Market Gate of Miletus, the Ishtar Gate and the Processional Way of Babylon, remains open for the first phase of renovation.