Immortalised in the poetic lines of Homer’s Iliad, the ancient city of Troy, in northwestern Turkey, attracts travellers from around the world to its legendary ruins, believed to be the location of the epic Trojan War. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, whether the legend is fact or just a beautiful piece of fiction, visiting Troy on a tour of Turkey is sure to capture your imagination. The story goes that Helen, the daughter of the king of Sparta, was abducted by a Trojan prince, sparking conflict across the Aegean Sea.
The Achaeans, a tribe from classical Greece, travelled to the shores of Troy in an attempt to capture the lost princess but could not break into the fortified city. At a loss of how to progress, they came up with a cunning plan to trick the Trojans, offering them up the gift of a huge wooden horse, which was accepted and brought into the city. Of course, the legend states that hidden inside this wooden horse were Achaean soldiers who were able to take the city by surprise and free Helen.
Over the centuries, archaeologists have debated the origins of this tale, although excavations in the 19th-century revealed city walls and structures which showed consistencies with Homer’s legend. Troy was destroyed and rebuilt nine times over, so there’s a number of different parts of the city, which correspond with different historical periods. Whether you’re a believer or not, anyone with an interest in classical history will delight in the chance to travel to Troy.
Unlike the palatial columns and avenues of other archaeological sites in Turkey, such as Ephesus, Troy’s ruins consist mostly of Bronze Age stone walls, which trace out the shape of its ancient fortified citadel. These archaeological remains are the highlight of a trip to Troy and although it can be challenging to envisage the overall appearance of the ancient city from the ruined stone structures, it’s easy to imagine how well defended and impenetrable the city was intended to be from the sheer width and height of its city walls, making the legend of Troy even more alluring.
Aside from the ruined walls, other things to see in Troy include Sheliemann’s Trench, a point of some controversy among archaeologists. Heinrich Schliemann, credited with linking the legend of Troy and the site of Hisarlik, dug this trench in the 1860s, although it’s reported his amateur archaeological skills on the site may have compromised the integrity of some of the remains. Nevertheless, his efforts revealed several cities, built one after the other on the site of Troy and shed light on the ancient legends of this mysterious city.
If you visit Troy today you can see where Schliemann made his exciting discoveries. To learn more about the historic legacy of Troy, visitors to the city can explore the Troy Museum, home to extensive underground galleries filled with thousands of pre-historic artefacts. Situated in the nearby village of Tevfikiye, a trip to Troy is simply incomplete without browsing the treasures housed inside the Troy Museum. Finally, after all the debate surrounding the complicated origins of Troy, why not have some fun by enjoying a photo-opportunity at the reconstructed Trojan Horse that stands guard at the entrance to the site, an unmissable thing to do if you travel to Troy.
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