ancient Homeric-era city in northwest Asia Minor

For other places with the same name, see Troy (disambiguation).

Troy (Turkish: Truva or Troya) is the site of an ancient city 30 km southwest of Çanakkale in the Southern Marmara Region of Turkey. In Greek it was called Ilion (Ίλιον), hence the name of Homer’s epic poem Iliad, which describes the climax of the legendary ten-year Trojan War. Archaeological excavations began in 1870 and these continue.

This page describes the principal site, inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List, next to the small modern village of Tevfikiye. The visible ruins are lumpy and limited, you won't see any classical fluted Grecian columns, but the museum is outstanding. A much larger surrounding area is designated as Troy Historical National Park (Troya Tarihi Milli Parkı), stretching from the main highway to the coast. This has no specific opening times, entrance fees or the like, and is described under Geyikli, the ferry port for the island of Bozcaada.

See Çanakkale for climate details, but in a nutshell it's Mediterranean. You can come any time but late spring and early autumn are ideal.

Understand edit

See also: Ancient Greece, Trojan War
Trojan treasures look better on Mrs Schliemann Number Two than in a glass case

Troy was inhabited continuously from about 3500 BC to 500 AD. It's on a steep hill overlooking what was once a gulf of the sea, so it had a defensible position, and a sheltered harbour and anchorage. From here you could trade and control shipping through the Dardanelles to the Bosphorus and Black Sea, so it grew into an important city-state. From 800 BC the gulf silted up to create fertile farmland but continued to have a navigable estuary; eventually this too was lost. Troy was cut off and dwindled, then finished off by earthquakes.

Legends told of wars between the gods, the superhumans of early times, and the Hellenistic city-states of the Aegean and Anatolia. The principal written account is Homer’s epic poem Iliad, written in the 8th century BC and describing a war 400 years earlier. Ancient scholars took Iliad as literal truth, later scholars dismissed it as fiction, then from the 19th century there was a growing belief in the links between legends and the ruins and antiquities lying all over these regions or just below the surface. These had long been looted for treasure, but excavation for discovery began, and one remarkable excavator was Schliemann, from 1870 at the village of Hisarlık - "fortress".

Heinrich Schliemann (1822-1890) has become part of the history of Troy, and his reputation has been trashed just as thoroughly as he himself trashed the site. He was a German businessman, very wealthy through flaky deals, and gripped by a mission to locate the Troy of legend. So he was a bungling amateur who used explosives and crude trenches to rip open the ground? But archaeology hadn't been invented; 19th century astronomers, historians, geologists and explorers were mostly men of wealth and leisure time, and naturalists studied new species by cooking and eating them. So he was an inveterate con-man and fabulist who distorted his findings to retro-fit the legend? But he relaunched that legend upon the world, from which the people of this region continue to gain an income, as effectively as Arthur Evans would do 50 years later in retro-fitting Knossos into the Minotaur legend. So he purloined and plundered somewhat? But ancient jewellery was meant to be worn and shown off, not sit in a glass case - you gain so much insight in bedazzling a pretty woman with it (to be specific, the Greek schoolgirl 30 years his junior for whom he ditched his first wife) and getting her blinged up.

The site is a tell where layers of settlement are heaped on top of each other. Schliemann identified nine layers, and reckoned Troy VII was the one described in Iliad. Modern archaeologists find no basis for this, and point out that tells are common, he could have dug anywhere with similar results, and there's even a candidate "Troy" in Egypt. But this is the one within sight of Tenedos (nowadays Bozcaada), the island that the Greek fleet of Iliad hid behind when they pretended to sail away. And there were so many conflicts between the city states, that there couldn't not have been a war or two between Greece and Troy.

Troy 0 was only discovered in 2019, below what had been accepted as the earliest layer. It dates from 3600 BC; not much here except to hint at what we don't yet know, like finding worlds beyond Pluto. The Schliemann numbering had become standard so it wasn't changed, and perhaps we'll one day see Troy minus one, minus two and so on.

Troy I from 3000 BC was a small village, Troy II from 2550 BC was a substantial town, twice destroyed, the ruins you see near the top of the hill. Troy III, IV & V from 2300 to 1750 BC (early Bronze Age) were so furiously excavated by Schliemann and poorly documented that little remains.

Troy VI-VII from 1750 BC to 950 BC was where he reckoned he'd hit pay-dirt. This was a densely populated coastal city with clear links to Anatolian culture, the Hittites and Mycenaean Greece. It had massive sloping walls, of which the foundations remain, especially the East Gate complex. Wrecked and rebuilt several times, it appeared to be a nobles' precinct, and only in the 1980s was a corresponding "lower town" discovered.

Troy VIII-IX was a Greek / Roman re-building, and the first tourists arrived. By now the silting of the harbour was a real problem, but it was a series of earthquakes in 500 AD that finished it as a city.

Get in edit

Çanakkale 35 km north is the area's transport hub and has the most amenities - you're more likely to base there than in Troy. Dolmuşes ply to Troy hourly, taking 45 min, but you need to check the departure point. Traditionally this was from the town bus station by the Dardanelles ferry pier, and local services still use this. However inter-city buses now use the new edge-of-town bus station by the motorway, and since the Dardanelles bridge opened in 2022, more transport has shifted out there.

The site is 5 km off the main Çanakkale-Izmir road D550 / E87, a fast divided highway. The turn-off 30 km out of Çanakkale is prominently signed, then you roll along the undivided highway through fields to Tevfikiye village.

Get around edit

Tevfikiye village and the Troy sites are compact, walk everywhere. You need stout footwear for the outdoor ruins, which are lumpy and slippery after rainfall.

You need wheels to reach other sites in the National Park, described under Geyikli.

See edit

  • 1 Troy ancient city is the main collection of ruins, and the visible walls are of Troy VII circa 1300 BC. The inevitable wooden horse dates from a tad later. The area is open daily from 10:00, Apr-Oct to 19:00 and Nov-March to 16:00. 100 TL (2023).
  • 2 Troy-Çanakkale Museum, Tevfikiye, +90 286 217 6740. Daily 08:30-20:00. This is the main exhibition space, a great modern cubical building on four floors - the rusty exterior is supposed to suggest that it was recently excavated. It has huge displays of findings, archaeology and the region's long history, so reckon to spend far longer here than on the outdoor ruins. 100 TL.  
  • 3 The terrace (Truva Seyir Terası) is a catchpenny area of souvenir shops adorned with replica Grecian busts, which they'll try to persuade you would look good in your lobby or garden. But come here for the view north, as the city drops away into the valley, once the sea inlet to its harbour.
  • 4 Çıplak is a little village 1 km east of Troy where Schliemann stayed during his excavations. It has a small free museum.
  • See Geyikli for sights further north at Kumkale and south around Yeniköy.

Do edit

Troy ancient city
  • Enter the wooden horse if it happens to be open. You clamber up a ladder, but the real exertion is in trying to feel any atmosphere in this space the size of a hen-coop. If it's swarming with children on a schooltrip that's actually better, in re-creating the claustrophobic crush of its hidden Greek warriors, who would be picked for being small and nimble.
  • Read Iliad - it's widely translated - to appreciate the fiction. If you still think it's factual, read the sequel Odyssey, in which Ulysses (or Odysseus) and his men try to return home from the war, to meet with fantastical adventures and be sent every which way. (In one telling, Ulysses even spends a day in Dublin.) Series 3 Aeneid was written much later, 29-19 BC, and tells how Aeneas was a survivor from Troy who eventually founded Rome.

Buy edit

  • Ekonomi is the village store, round the corner from Helen Cafe. It's open daily 08:00-23:00.
  • Fuel: the Sunpet filling station in the village is open 24 hours.

Eat edit

  • Selim Babanın Yeri serves up meatballs opposite the museum, Sa-Th 12:00-02:00, F 12:00-00:00.
  • Eli's Cafe Garden is a charming cafe with views by the terrace, open daily 08:30-00:00.
  • Helen Cafe is a cheap and cheerful place by the terrace, open Tu-Su 07:00-22:00, M 12:00-22:00.
  • Olea Restaurant and Homeros weren't open in 2022 (the latter probably got sick of folk asking about his pide recipe, to make Homer say "Doh!"). Wilusa has permanently closed.

Drink edit

Try the cafes or hotel.

Sleep edit

Trojan Horse at the entrance of the site

Most visitors stay in Çanakkale and just day-trip.

  • Hisarlik Hotel, Tevfikiye (by museum), +90 286 283 0026. Simple hotel, you're paying for the location. B&B double 500 TL.
  • Troia Pension & Camping, Tevfikiye (by museum), +90 542 263 4839. Campsite for caravans, motorhomes, and tents. Motel rooms available. Hot showers, laundry, electric hook-up, free Wi-Fi. Watch what you're paying, the owner is charming but ramps up the prices. B&B double 500 TL.
  • Hector B&B wasn't open in 2022.

Connect edit

As at May 2022, there is 4G along the main highway from all Turkish carriers, and Turkcell and Vodafone extend into the park. 5G has not rolled out in Turkey.

Go next edit

  • Bozcaada (formerly Tenedos) is the island seen offshore from Troy. It has a nicely preserved old town and a Venetian castle. Reach it by ferry from Geyikli. See that page also for other sites in the National Park.
  • Çanakkale north is the city and transport hub. Go that way for the ferry to the Gallipoli battlefields around Eceabat and Kilitbahir.
  • South are the mountains flanking the Northern Aegean, such as Mount Ida, where in legend the gods watched the Trojan wars. You can follow the main highway, or dawdle on back lanes along the coast.
  • Istanbul to Izmir is an itinerary with one branch following the Gallipoli peninsula then crossing through Çanakkale towards Troy, and onward to Assos.

Routes through Troy
KeşanÇanakkale  N   S  → Junctions   (W),   (W) → EdremitIzmir

This park travel guide to Troy is a usable article. It has information about the park, for getting in, about a few attractions, and about accommodations in the park. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.