Inspired from the simplified single degree of freedom modeling approach used in the preliminary design of concrete gravity dams, a pseudo-dynamic testing method was devised for the seismic testing of a concrete gravity dam section. The test specimen was a 1/75 scaled section of the 120-m-high monolith of the Melen Dam, one of the highest concrete gravity dams to be built in Turkey. The single degree of freedom idealization of the dam section was validated in the first stage of the study using numerical simulations including the dam-reservoir interaction. Afterwards, pseudo-dynamic testing was conducted on the specimen using three ground motions corresponding to different hazard levels. Lateral displacement and base shear demands were measured. The crack propagation at the base of the dam was monitored with the measurement of the crack widths and the base sliding displacements. After the pseudo-dynamic loading, a static pushover test was conducted to determine the reserve capacity of the test specimen. Despite major cracking at the base of the monolith, neither significant sliding nor a stability problem that might jeopardize the stability of the dam was observed. Copyright (c) 2015 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.