Troy, Turkey

Website: https://www.kulturportali.gov.tr/portal/truvaantikkenti

Physical address: 17100 Kalafat, Çanakkale Merkez, Çanakkale, Turkey

Phone number: +90 286 217 82 05

Business hours: Monday to Thursday 8am-6pm; Friday & Saturday 10am-8pm; Sunday 10am-9pm

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For a long time, the epic tales of adventure detailed in Homer’s Iliad were thought to be only the work of an incredible imagination. An ancient city. A 10-year siege. Subterfuge. A giant wooden horse. Destruction. No one knew the location of the ancient city of Troy, but surely such a place would never be forgotten.

That was until the mid-1800s when an English expatriate, Frances Calvert, posited that a hillside near the Turkish village of Hisarlik might fit the description. Excavations commenced slowly, but by 1871, German businessman and amateur archaeologist, Heinrich Schliemann had become involved in the project, bringing with him both finances and a cavalier attitude towards archaeological preservation. The impact of Schliemann’s efforts can still be seen at the site, via a 15-foot trench that tore through all nine iterations of the city’s history.

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Initially Schliemann believed that Troy II (the second oldest version of the settlement, dating back to around 2500BC) was the setting for the Trojan Wars, having found a cache of gold and silver that he believed to be Priam’s Treasure. As such, he focused his excavations on this time period, and destroyed many of the layers of later development. Unfortunately, subsequent research has concluded that he was incorrect, and that the Iliad was likely based on Troy VI or VII, around 500 years prior to the publication of Homer’s great work, and over 1,000 years after Schliemann’s ruins were originally built.

Over time, more careful archaeological work was carried out at the site, and today it is possible to walk through thousands of years of history, with signs providing information about the various time periods and purposes for the different buildings. Unlike some other ruins in Turkey, Troy has not been rebuilt, and therefore, as in Homer’s time, much of the experience has to be created in the visitor’s imagination.

Troy can be reached on a day trip from Istanbul; however, it is a five-hour drive each way so an overnight stay in the nearby town of Çannakale is recommended. In 2018, a museum was opened at the site, providing additional information about the ancient city, and a wooden horse at the entrance makes the perfect backdrop for the obligatory tourist photo. Chariots and costumes are also available as props.

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