Troy ( Truva, Troia )

Troy ( Truva, Troia ) is a world heritage site famous for its Trojan horse and mentioned in the epic Iliad and the Odyssey by Homer. It is located 30 km from the city of Canakkale and some 5km inland from the Dardenelles.

Troy is well documented in history even though its very existence was doubted for years. It was supposed that Troy might have been a mythical city or that it had existed in far off lands including the unlikely Scandinavia. It is recorded that Alexander the Great visited Troy in 334 BC.

The city of Troy was originally right up against the sea but over the years the build up of silt and shifting tides have placed it inland. The city of Ilium was also founded on this site during the reign of the Roman Emperor Augustos but its importance faded with the growing success and expansion of Constantinople.

There is no easy way of explaining it but the early excavations of this site have been disasterous. An English archaeologist by the name of Frank Calvert carried out the first excavations and when he teamed up with a German archaeologist called Heinrich Schliemann investigation of the area confirmed that several cities, on  nine different levels, had been built over each other at the same location.

Schliemann could only use information that he had at the time but unfortunately he dug through several layers of cities and deeper than the original city of Troy thus creating confusion and displacement of valuable ancient material. Schliemann is reputed to have found numerous treasures at the site which became known as Priam’s Treasure. He sold them to the Berlin Museums but there are doubts about the authenticity of the objects.

Recent excavations show evidence of a deep ditch covering a much larger area that may have marked the boundaries of the city of Troy and attributed to around  1250 BC. There now seems little doubt that this was indeed the site of the famous city of Troy.

The story of Troy is famous and steeped in legend. Odysseus found that breaking the seige of Troy was becoming impossible and ordered that a huge hollow wooden horse be made that could accommodate soldiers hiding within it. The horse was placed outside the city walls and the Greek fleet sailed away as if in an admission of defeat.

The horse was dragged into Troy as a trophy and late at night the Greek soldiers climbed down from the horse, opened the gates to the city of Troy and the Trojans  were slaughtered. Priam was killed and Cassandra was raped. This magnificent city had been overcome with cunning and deceit.  The expression “beware of Greeks bearing gifts” comes from the Trojan horse.

Anyone visiting Troy will find the nearby village at Hisarlik totally reliant on the sale of Troy related souvenirs and refreshments.  In the 1980’s the site was pretty forlorn and devoid of much information but in recent times the excavations have revealed a much more comprehensive picture of what Troy may have been like.

Car parking and facilities at the site have been improved and there is a dedicated gift shop.

Visitors to Troy should not visit expecting to experience the breathtaking grandeur of places like Ephesus, Pergamon and Aspendos which have been carefully re constructed in less complicated environments than what have been found at Troy. These sites were not subject to the same level of damage and looting and were therefore much easier to piece together.

Although the ruins of Troy were only discovered in 1873, it quickly became one of the most famous archaeological sites in the world. It is a World Heritage site and if you find yourself anywhere close to this region of Turkey a visit is highly recommended.

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Apollo Smintheus

Temple of Apollo Smintheus at Gülpinar

The temple of Apollon Smintheus is situated in the town of Gulpinar in the Biga Peninsula in the Canakkale region. There is an abundance of water in Gulpinar which is the most likely reason that this place was chosen.

After the fall of Troy, Greeks settled in great numbers along this coastline. Evidence still exists of Greek structures and other ancient sites such as the ancient site of Alexander Troas at Dalyan.

Apollo Smintheus ( the destroyer of mice ) is mentioned in Homer’s Iliad as the temple where Chyrses was a priest. His daughter, Chryseis, was captured by Agamemnon during the seige of Troy and in response Chyrses asked Apollo to punish the Greeks which Apollo did by sending a plagued arrow into the Greek ranks. Legend has it that the girl was returned to her father.

In the Iliad, Homer of Smyrna, ( the old name for the city of Izmir ) the priest says:

“Hear me,…, O god of the silver bow, that protects Chryse and holy Cilla and rulest Tenedos with thy might, hear me oh thou of Sminthe. If I have ever decked your temple with garlands, or burned your thigh-bones in fat of bulls or goats, grant my prayer, and let your arrows avenge these my tears upon the Danans.”

(Iliad, I, 37-42, Samuel Butler)

The Temple of Apollo Smintheus has some intricate stone relief work which describes the Trojan war and parts of the epic story of Iliad are depicted in the ancient marble stones and vases.

The first excavations of this site commenced in 1866 but were followed by a period of abandonement. Excavations  commended again in 1980 under Prof Dr Coskun Ozgunel.

The museum features important artifacts and collections from the excavations as well as a detailed written account of the history of Apollo Smintheus.

Çanakkale

Photo of Kilitbahir Castle by Omulazimoglu

The province of Canakkale does not benefit from the high volume of tourists found in other regions of Turkey. This is the real turkey –hospitable, unexplored and untainted for the most part by mass tourism.

A part of me wants to keep this quiet and not tell anyone how beautiful and natural this region is. The stifling hot July and August temperatures of the south coast are instead the breezy and temperate summer winds of the Aegean.

The olive groves and orchards provide a distinctly green countryside even in the height of the summer season. Water is generally in no short supply here with underground springs and a good natural supply from the nearby mountain ranges.

For me this is the place to get away from it all. Forget your troubles, the stresses of every day life and the hustle and bustle of city life. Lose yourself in the sparkling clear waters of the Aegean sea. Relax under the sun and take in the magnificent views this province has to offer.

The city of Çanakkale is located on the south side of the Dardenelles. Steeped in legend and myth this region of Turkey has seen the Greeks and the Romans come and go. The strategic importance of the straights of the Dardenelles have seen Sultans and Royalty, battles and bloodshed, settlers and traders all passing through its waters. This famous region of Turkey is best known for the Trojan War and the city of Troy and the Gallipoli Campaign of World War I.

Today, Çanakkale, with it’s windy climate, plays host to a number of foreign tourists interested in wind surfing and visiting the war graves and battlefields. Tourism in the area is heavily bolstered by locals from Istanbul and Izmir.

Troy, or Truva in Turkish, was the centre of civilization in its prime. It used to be a sea port but the land has silted over and it now lies inland near Hisarlik. What should be a fine example of an ancient historical site will be of great disappointment to visitors because sadly what is left is the result of the destruction of the site by Heinrich Schliemann, a famous German archaeologist who basically plundered the site  between 1870 – 1890 and took away its treasures.

Pretty much all there is to see in Troy is a replica wooden horse and some stones scattered around. Of all the fine historical treasures that Turkey has to offer, it has to said that Troy is not very prominent in the league tables.

Leaving Troy and travelling south you will see signs to Bozcaada or the island of Bozca. Not far from here is the ancient city of Alexandreia Troas. Most of the traffic leaving Çanakkale goes directly through Ezine and on to Ayvacik on route to Izmir but they are missing out on one of the most forgotten and unspoiled areas of Turkish coastline.

Those who branch off from Ezine to Geyikli now have the chance to explore the pretty island of Bozcaada or take the coast road south passing through small villages and spectacular coastline with its varied countryside and natural rock formations, against a backdrop of mountains and hills.

Between Geyikli and Assos you are within easy reach of Ezine and the numerous inexpensive restaurants and guest houses of the beautiful coastline. Get off the beaten track and turn inland once in a while and visit some of the little villages like Pinarbasi, Kemalli or Tavakli. Here you will experience the hospitality of the local people and it is here that you will find tranquillity and a slow pace of life that is enviable to many city dwellers.

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Bozcaada

The impressive castle on Bozcaada

Bozcaada is accessed by ferryboat from Geyikli. It is a popular local tourist destination for Turkish holidaymakers from Istanbul and Izmir.

With a population of just 2,354 it used to be a predominantly Greek island until 1924 when an exchange of populations between Greece and Turkey turned this into the Turkish island that it is today.

Fishing and tourism are the main incomes of the island with local grapes producing some half decent local wine. A wind farm produces all the electricity needed for the island with any excess power being transferred to the Turkish mainland.

Main attractions on the island are the castle which is located right by the sea and which dates back to Byzantine times. It is in exceptionally good condition and well worth a visit.  Wandering around the cobbled streets gives you a feel for the distinctive architecture of the island homes and two main beaches are of a good size with excellent nearby facilities.

The waters of the Ayazma beach can be freezing cold even in the height of summer. This is due to freshwater discharges being released from under the seabed.


Alexandria Troas

Alexandria Troas ( Alexandria of the Troad ) or Eski Stambul

Alexandria Troas is about 13km from Tavakli in Dalyan Village. This is the site of an ancient Greek city, situated on the Aegean Sea. It was founded in 306 BC by Antigoneia Monophthalmus, a commander serving under Alexander the Great. Although the original name was Antigonia it was re-named Alexandria Troas by Lysimachus.

Alexandria Troas is in the Ezine district in the province of Canakkale. It is very close to Troy, the town that was believed by many to have been the mother-city of Rome.

In its prime, granite columns were sent to Rome and other cities of the Roman Empire and this was one of the largest Greek cities ever to be established in Anatolia. It was one of the main ports of the region and at the height of its glory it may have had a population as high as 100,000.

Constantine had even considered making Troas the capital of the Roman Empire before deciding on Byzantium, later re-named Constantinople, modern day Turkey’s Istanbul.

During Roman times this port was visited by Paul of Tarsus and Ignatius of Antioch. Over years the importance of the city declined. Sometime during the Byzantine period the city was either destroyed or abandoned.

The Ottoman period saw Karasi Turkmens settling in the region during the 14th century. The ruins were known to locals as Eski Stambul ( Old City ) and much of the stones were re-used for building works elsewhere. It is well known that Mehmed IV took columns from this site for his Yeni Valide Mosque in Istanbul. During the 18th century the site became a hideout for bandits.

In more modern times the site became overgrown and covered in trees and grassland. Much of the stone has been removed. Some parts have been found in better order than others and the bath and gymnasium complex is known locally as the Bal Saray ( Honey Palace ). Excavations are taking place at the site.

Visitors can see the remains of several large structures such as the palace, temple, theatre and baths and more recently a stadium which has been uncovered. The site extends over an area of some 400 hectares ( 1,000 acres ). 

Open: 08:00 to 17:00 all year round