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One of the most important archaeological sites in the world, Troy in Turkey is a fascinating destination.


You may well have heard of Troy but if you thought it was just a fictitious place then you would not be alone. The city plays a key role in Homer’s great work The Iliad, but for centuries many people thought that it was simply a product of his imagination. However, in the early 19th century, a site was discovered in Hisarlik, near the Canakkale province in Turkey. Although some temple ruins were discovered by Charles McLaren in 1822, it wasn’t until German archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann began a thorough excavation in 1871 that the true importance of the site was revealed.

A significant find

Schliemann obtained permission from the Ottoman government to dig on a mound called Hisarlik, where the earlier discovery of some remains suggested that a much larger site could be found. He discovered nine distinct layers of remains, confirming that here was the site of an ancient civilisation dating back 4000 years. The oldest of these is known as Troy I, whilst it is likely that the city described by Homer is Troy VI or VII, which was destroyed by fire around the time the Trojan War is believed to have taken place. The Greeks subsequently carried out significant building work, followed by the Romans from 300BC to 300AD, forming Troy IX. Schliemann’s excavations, whilst successful, were disorganised in their approach and caused significant damage to the site. He also removed a cache of relics, known as the Treasure of Priam, which having been smuggled to Berlin is now on display in Moscow and the subject of a fierce ownership debate.

A great city

The site at Troy is quite rightly on the UNESCO World Heritage list as it offers a fascinating insight into many millennia of history for those enjoying discount holidays to Turkey. Unlike some sites which have been extensively rebuilt, excavation work at Troy has focused on preserving the existing remains and making them easier for visitors to appreciate. As you enter the site you will see a replica of the famous Trojan horse the Greeks were have alleged to have used in order to infiltrate the city. You can actually climb inside this and look out of specially created viewing windows to admire the site. To explore the city itself, follow the circuit that skirts the dig site. The east wall and gate are particularly impressive, as are the remains of the Troy VI palace complex. Temple ruins from one of the later periods and the remains of a Roman theatre also offer clues as to how this great city must once have looked. Troy, or Truva, is undoubtedly one of the most significant archaeological discoveries in the world, not least because of the length of its occupation. Spanning almost 4 thousand years, these remains offer a unique insight into Turkish, Greek and Roman culture.

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