Perga was an ancient and important city of Pamphylia, between the rivers Catarrhactes and Cestrus (Turkish Aksu Çayı).
A treaty between the Hittite Great King Tudhaliya IV and his vassal, the king of Tarhuntassa, defined the latter's western border at the city "Parha" and the "Kastaraya River". The river is assumed to be the classical Cestrus. West of Parha were the "Lukka Lands" Parha likely spoke a late Luwian dialect like Lycian and that of the neo-Hittite kingdoms.
Perge returns to history as a Pamphylian Greek city, and with Pamphylia came under successive rule by Persians, Athenians, and Persians again. Alexander the Great, after quitting Phaselis, occupied Perge with a part of his army. The road between these two towns is described as long and difficult. Alexander's rule was followed by the Diadochi empire of the Seleucids, then the Romans.
Perge gained renown for the worship of Artemis, whose temple stood on a hill outside the town, and in whose honour annual festivals were celebrated. The coins of Perge represent both the goddess and her temple.
In 46 A.D., according to the Acts of the Apostles, St. Paul journeyed to Perga, from there continued on to Antiocheia in Pisidia, then returned to Perga where he preached the word of God (Acts 14:25). Then he left the city and went to Attaleia.
As the Cestrus silted up over the late Roman era, Perga declined as a secular city. In the first half of the 4th century, during the reign of Constantine the Great (324-337), Perga became an important centre of Christianity, which soon became the official religion of the Roman Empire. The city retained its status as a Christian centre in the 5th and 6th centuries.