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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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