Located in modern day Turkey, the now UNESCO World Heritage Site marks the meeting place of Anatolia, the Aegean and the Balkans, making it a vitally important source of information about the historic relationships between these regions. “Truva” or Troy is one of the most famous and historically significant sites in the world.
Imbued with several millennia of history and the subject of legend, Troy’s fame mainly derives from being the fabled location of the Trojan War.
There are several ancient accounts of this conflict, mainly fiction, the most famous of which was written by Homer in The Iliad. The story goes that the Greeks besieged Troy after Helen, wife of the Menelaus, the king of Sparta, was taken by Paris of Troy. Many historians now believe that the reason for the Trojan War was a bitter commercial rivalry between the people of Troy and the Mycenaeans.
It was also Troy which was the subject of Virgil’s epic poem ‘The Aeneid’, in which the Greeks laid the famous “Trojan Horse” trap for the people of Troy. The Greeks, pretending to have left Troy during the Trojan War, placed a wooden horse at the gates of the city as a purported trophy of the Trojans’ victory. In fact, Greek soldiers were hiding inside the horse and once taken in by the Trojans proceeded to destroy the city and claim victory.
Over the millennia Troy became a bustling Persian commercial hub, particularly from 1700 BC. However, a combination of natural disasters, invasions and occupations led to the city being rebuilt numerous times. It is said that Alexander the Great visited Troy in 334 BC at the start of his campaign against the Persians. The Macedonian leader is believed to have paid his respects at the Tomb of Achilles.
Troy continued to maintain its status under the Romans as Ilium, especially after it was identified as the location of Homer’s ‘Iliad’ in 188 BC and the city was exempt from taxes. The site has a mix of Greek and Roman monuments, many built by prominent figures such as Alexander the Great and the Roman Emperor Augustus. Ilium flourished until the Byzantine period when Constantinople became the bishopric.
It was not until 1822 that Scottish journalist Charles Maclaren identified Hisarlik as the modern location of Troy.
The vast ruins now found at Troy lay witness to thousands of years of history, the oldest section dating back to the late 4th millennium BC. Each part of the site is numbered, correlating to a specific period of time. The famous walls of Troy, which played such an important role on the Trojan War (some of which remain) can be seen in the VII section.
Regardless of whether Troy was the actual site of the Trojan War, the archaeological site of Troy is a fascinating place for history enthusiasts and tourists alike to wander the wooden walkways. The Troy Museum lays at the entrance to the ruins, built to the exact height of the ancient city, boasting sarcophagi, axes and cutting tools, glass bracelets, gold, coins, ceramics and more – all bringing the ancient city to life.
Of course, the site also has a replica of a Trojan horse.
Getting to Troy
Situated near Kalafat in Turkey, it is easiest to drive to the archaeological site. From Istanbul, Troy is a 5 hour drive along the O-5 and E90 roads around the Sea of Marmara. From nearby city Çanakkale, it is a 35 minute drive along the E87 and there is plenty of parking.