The city of Ancient Troy, Turkey was built at a strategic point on the Dardanelle strait, which connects the Aegean Sea with the Black Sea. Troy forms a basis for Homer’s Iliad, written some 500 years after the Trojan War. Ancient Troy holds a unique position in history, literature and archaeology. Ancient Troy. Truva in Turkish and its location has been written about by ancient Greek and Latin Authors for centuries, however, the location of ancient Troy wasn’t identified until relatively recently. The site of the ancient ruins of Troy became a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1998.
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The Discovery of Ancient Troy
The ruins of Ancient Troy are found in current Hissarlik, Turkey, however, it was the Englishman, Charles Maclaren, who, in 1822, suggested that this might be the location of the city. Frank Calvert then convinced the millionaire German amateur archaeologist, Heinrich Schliemann that this location was correct.
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Between 1870 and 1890 Schliemann excavated the area in a brutal fashion. His North to South Trench literally cut through layers and layers of historical artefact. He announced his discovery and the finds of what he called Priam’s Treasure. The treasures were relocated to Berlin. When Berlin was sacked by the Red Army during WWII they were moved to Moscow and have not been returned.
Schliemann’s excavations uncovered evidence of nine periods of building, living and destruction. At the end of each time, further building took place on top of the previous layer. The destruction generally occurred because of earthquake or fire.
The History of Ancient Troy – 9 periods
These nine separate layers of Ancient Troy began with the oldest, Troy I – at the bottom and ended with Troy IX at the top. For the first seven periods, Troy was a stronghold with a king’s residence and the associated supporting family and slaves. The local population lived in fields nearby, only taking refuge in the stronghold in dangerous times. Troy is now 5 kilometres from the sea but it was originally very close to the river mouth.
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The original Troy was small, just 300 feet in diameter with around 20 houses. By contrast, Troy II was twice as big. Troy II was levelled after a fire and it was in this layer that Schliemann found a treasure trove, identified it with Homer’s Troy and labelled it Priam’s Treasure. Troy’s III, IV and V were larger than Troy II but contained smaller more densely located residences within.
Troy VI and VII came about in the Middle and Late Bronze Ages. The city grew, domesticated horses were present and a fifteen feet thick city wall was constructed of limestone. After an earthquake levelled Troy VI it was quickly rebuilt with houses crowded together and large storage locations for food.It was then destroyed by fire, which historians believe was on purpose by enemies, who also looted the city.
It was this Troy that historians believe was the Troy of Homers Iliad legend, where King Priam and his treasure came from. Although the city was rebuilt it was soon abandoned for four hundred years. The Greeks began to settle the city in 700 BC and it became Troy VIII. Following a sacking by the Romans in 85 BC and its subsequent restoration the city took on its final form in Troy IX.
Troy Legend – the Trojan War
Paris, one of the 50 sons of wealthy King Priam was tasked by the Greek goddesses, Aphrodite, Hera and Athena to judge which of the three goddesses should receive the golden apple of Eris, the goddess of discord, which would define them as the most beautiful. In an under the table deal, Aphrodite promised him the most beautiful woman in the world and thus won the apple. Paris then headed off to Greece and eloped with Helen, the wife of the King of Sparta.
Despite a great expedition and the sacking of many nearby towns by the Greeks in an effort to recover Helen, the Trojans refused to return her. The ancient city of Troy withstood a siege for 10 years. Even the gods took sides. Hera, Athena and Poseidon sided with the Greeks with Aphrodite, Apollo and Ares on the side of the Trojans.
Homers Troy – the Iliad
Homer’s Iliad is set in the 10th year of the siege and tells of the battle between Agamemnon and Achilles which led to the death in battle of Priam’s eldest son, Hector. To cut a long story short a huge wooden horse was built. Some of the Greek warriors hid inside, the rest of the Greek army sailed away to a nearby island. While Priam’s daughter, Cassandra warned against the move the Trojans were persuaded to take the horse inside the walls of the city. That night the Greek army returned, those inside the horse opened the gates. The rest is history. Priam and his sons were killed, Trojan women were sold into slavery. Homer wrote more books telling the tales of the Greeks heading home: Returns and Odyssey.
There were a few survivors of Troy, including the descendants of Aeneas who headed to Italy and allegedly became the ancestors of the Romans.
Where is Ancient Troy Today?
There’s little that remains today of the nine periods of Ancient Troy. An impressive ticket office bars the entry. A wooden horse replica takes pride of place as you pass through the barriers. You can also have a bit of dress up fun on your Troy visit – Roman gladiator costumes and a chariot are available if you want to play dress up and get a photo taken.
Sign boards around the site provide a heap of information, although they’re not always obvious, you do have to seek them out. It takes more than a little imagination to figure out the centre of commerce that this must once have been.
The views over the surrounding countryside are pleasant, but my no means commanding. Some restoration has taken place and continues to and Schliemann’s trench is easy to spot
It’s an easy site to traverse – board walks, sign boards and no one to really stop you from going where you want. When we visited there was continuing archaeological work, but one assumes by the size of the pick axes that they don’t expect to find anything new here. Or if they do, then they don’t mind it being in several pieces.
Where to Stay to Visit Troy
Stay in Hisarlik, right next to the site of Troy, or in the nearby town of Çanakkale and take a minibus to the site.
Hotel Hisarlık – at the Ruins
An amazing location, just 800 metres from the ruins of Troy means you can be first into the site on a morning, even after having had a leisurely breakfast (the hotel provides a great continental breakfast!) They offer guided tours by the owner Mustafa, which are highly recommended. This hotel has a bar, restaurant and garden, all rooms have air conditioning. – Check out other reviews and book your stay now!
Best options to stay in Çanakkale
The Helen Hotel, Çanakkale
Just 300 metres from the ferry to the Gallipoli peninsular and in the heart of Çanakkale, the Helen Hotel provides rooms with air conditioning, flat screen TV’s and private bathrooms. There’s breakfast provided on the roof top terrace and an on-site bar too. It’s a great location with really friendly staff – Reserve your room now!
The Set Özer Hotel, Çanakkale
Great location close to the Çanakkale clock tower and the ferry port to Eceabat/Gallipoli. This hotel provides rooms with air conditioning, a garden and free bikes. The breakfast is highly rated and rooms and clean and comfortable – Book a room now!
Troy Turkey FAQs
Where is Troy?
The city of Troy is located on the northwest coast of Turkey in the province of Canakkale. The closest village is Tevfikiye. Today’s Turkish name for the site is Hisarlik.
Where was Ancient Troy?
Ancient Greeks colonized the area of present day northwest Turkey around 2,700 years ago, leading to the question as to whether Troy was in Greece or Turkey. (both the answer appears to be depending on the time period).
To read more about the history of Troy as well as famous literature on the subject of Troy we recommend the following books on Troy:
Is there a map of Ancient Troy?
Here’s the map of Troy and how to find the city of Troy today.
Who excavated the Ancient City of Troy?
Frank Calvert, an English archaeologist did some initial excavatins in 1865, he had previously bought a field from a local farmer. It was German amateur archaeologist, Heinrich Schliemann who did the major excavations on the site of Troy in 1868.
How to Get to Troy, Turkey
The site of the Troy ancient ruins is located 1 kilometres from Tevfikiye, and it is an easy walk. It is 31 kilometres from Çanakkale.
To get to Troy from Çanakkale
Dolmuses (minibuses) travel from the Çanakkale local bus station (close by the bus station, but under the white bridge) to Troy. The travel time to Troy from Çanakkale is 45 minutes and buses leave from 0700 every hour. The last bus from Çanakkale to Troy is at 1500. Returning to Troy from Çanakkale buses leave from 0930 until 1730. The bus to Troy costs 7 Turkish lira per person.
To get to Troy from Istanbul
You can take tours from Istanbul to Troy – they usually leave at 0700 and do not arrive back into Istanbul until about 2200 > we recommend this tour to Troy from Istanbul
When can you visit Troy, Turkey?
The Troy ruins site opening times are 0830 – 1900 from April to October and from 0800 – 1700 from November to March.
How can you visit Troy?
The site of Ancient Troy costs 25 Lira to visit. Under 12s go in for free. A ticket to Troy is however, included on the Turkey wide Museum pass, which isn’t advertised and not many ticket offices know about it. Be belligerent, it may cost you 185 lira, but if you have 15 days in the country and a list of museums most of them will be on it.
There’s no map as such, but guidebooks such as Fodors Turkey, Insight Guides and Lonely Planet do have extensive write ups on the site and its history. An audio guide to Troy is also available for 10 Turkish lira.
How long do you need to visit Troy Turkey?
We spent 90 minutes visiting the site and found that was more than enough time for our level of interest. And no, we didn’t dress up as Gladiators, although we did take our turn inside the wooden horse.
We travelled with Madventure on our Overlanding the Silk Road trip. We camped the previous night at Eceabat and took the 08:00 ferry over, visited Troy and then carried onto Ephesus where we camped on the beach at Deriler camping.
If you’re staying locally, then most folks stay in Cannakale and take either a minibus or a taxi to the Troy ruins in Turkey.
- Our guide book was the Lonely Planet Turkey – Buy your Copy here!
- We travelled with Madventure on the Silk Road Trip from Istanbul to Kathmandu
- This is part of the first week in our Overlanding the Silk Road trip – here’s more on how we got from Istanbul to Goreme.
- Other sites we visited in Turkey included Hierapolis – Greco Roman ruins at Pamukkale and, of course, the limestone terraces of Pamukkale.
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