Ancient Troy

Henrich Schliemann found ancient Troy in what is present day Hisarlik a little south of the city of Canakkale, located on the western shores of the Aegean Sea and on the western end of the Bosphorus Strait. Many ocean liners will offer Istanbul shore excursions that include tours of Troy in Turkey during their port stops. Often these shore excursions will also include the nearby World War I battle site of Gallipoli. There are also Bosphorus river cruises that travel through the Sea of Marmara and do make stops at the Troy Ruins during the cruise. The Sea of Marmara is the body of water that separates the continents of Europe and Asia. It is bordered on the east by Istanbul and on the west by Canakkale.

It is possible to visit the national park where ancient Troy is located on a day trip from Izmir or Istanbul. But it is conveniently reached by ferry if you are spending a night in Canakkale. While the ruins are not as impressive as those at Pergamum or Ephesus, they are quite worthwhile due to the history revealed by sites dating back as far as 3,000 years before the Christian era. Some think the massive wooden reconstruction of the fabled Trojan Horse is a bit "touristy." While this is true, it provides a great deal of fun for children as well as idea of the scope of its original construction. The ruins of what is perhaps the most famous ancient city in the world are extensive and set in a beautiful location. There are nine different strata, and you take a virtual walk back in time as you explore them, beginning with the impressive former entrance. Columns mark the ruins of former palaces, and there is a well-preserved amphitheater (also called a concert hall). At the entrance are some souvenir shops, the wooden horse reconstruction, and a small archeological museum with excellent models of the city once looked like.  

Ancient Troy was the center of the civilization described in Homer's epic, the Iliad. Called Truva in Turkish, the ruins at this once great city are quite amazing, and the Troy ruins are designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Some of the ruins are Roman, as the Roman city of Ilium was built on top of ancient Truva. Work is still going on to repair the damage of early excavations and to reconstruct some of the structures so they can be viewed as they originally were built. While there are a few hotels in modern Truva and Canakkale, most people visit ancient Troy as a stop on a longer itinerary, and will be staying in accommodations in Bursa or Izmir.

For millennia it was thought that the ancient city of Troy was only the stuff of legend, an interesting fable from the mythology of Greece. Most everyone knows the story of the Trojan Horse and the epic related by Virgil of how the Greeks sneaked into the city during the Trojan War more than 2,000 years before the Christian Era. But few believed it was more than a myth until the persistent businessman and archeologist Heinrich Schliemann uncovered the actual Troy ruins in 1876.

This discovery occurred before archeology was established as a legitimate science and profession. His excavations of the ancient city of Troy actually caused some harm to the integrity of the site. He and his wife Sophia collaborated to smuggle a great deal of treasure from the site out of Turkey; some of his scholarship was questionable, later even proving to be deliberate falsehoods. This kind of behavior was not unusual among the explorers of the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century. Thomas Bruce, Earl of Elgin, removed virtually all of what are referred to as the Elgin Marbles from the Parthenon in Athens in 1812. They are now in the British Museum and the source of a great deal of controversy between England and Greece. Two of the first archeologists to practice more ethical and scholarly excavations were Sir Arthur Evans, who was responsible for much of the early work at Knossos on the island of Crete during the late 1800s, and Howard Carter who discover the tomb of King Tutankhamun in the Valley of Kings in Egypt.

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