Turkey 2 – Canakkale, Troy

We had discussed our itinerary and reluctantly concluded that we would not have any time to explore Bursa, as we needed to make an early start. However, I decided to slip out for a morning walk before breakfast to get a feel of the town.

When I reached the main road, I realised that the night before, the GPS had lead us to the road in front of the hotel, but it was our bad luck that the sign of the hotel (outlined in a blue oval in this photo) was not easily visible, and we wasted more than an hour wandering in the general vicinity of the hotel when the distance to be covered was barely a few yards.

1DSC06163I set off on my walk, enjoying the pleasant weather and the peace and quiet.

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Bursa, designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2014, was once the capital of the Ottoman Empire. It was a major production centre for royal silk products.
In modern times, it is the fourth most populous city in Turkey, and a major industrial centre.
One of the main sights in Bursa is the Ulu Cami, or Grand Mosque. Ordered by the Sultan Bayezid I, it has 20 domes and 2 minarets. It is believed that the Sultan had promised to build 20 mosques for winning the Battle of Nicopolis in 1396. Instead, he ordered one large mosque with 20 domes to be built in Bursa. It is a large rather impressive rectangular building.
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I noticed these three cats sunning themselves near the boundary wall of Ulu Cami. Cats are found everywhere in Turkey, and are treated with respect and affection.
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I returned to our hotel in time for breakfast.
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We set off towards Canakkale. En route, we saw a row of windmills. There is a lot of emphasis on conserving electricity (the hotel in Bursa had motion sensor lights which switched on only when required) and on utilising clean energy sources.
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On reaching Canakkale, our first stop was at the waterfront, to see the Trojan horse – the same one that was used in the 2004 Hollywood film, and presented to the city in September, 2004.
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Beside it is a model of the ruins of Troy which is located about 30km south-west of Canakkale.
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It was pleasant walking along the waterfront next to the Dardanelles Strait, with the Horse and the Troy model increasing our anticipation of visiting the fabled city the same afternoon. There was also a transparent pyramidal sculpture, quite beautiful and delicate but dwarfed by the huge horse.

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Further on we saw Kilitbahir Castle across the Dardanelles on the European side. The castle has been constructed in an interesting clover shape, which is apparent when it is viewed from above.

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We were fascinated by the use of the car and motorcycle as decorations for shop fronts.

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We saw a Mentor Palmastro for the first time, which I assume is some sort of palm reading machine…..
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Time for lunch – Amit enjoyed the sizzler, while I ordered a Pizza, at the Assos Café.
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As we drove on, there were reminders by the roadside that we were nearing the site of the ancient city betrayed by a wooden horse…
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We reached Troy and entered the excavation site. Before proceeding to the ruins, we had fun climbing into the horse replica near the site. There were people dressed as gladiators trying to entice tourists to pose atop a chariot in a toga (for a price, of course) – I was tempted, but Amit flatly refused to “dress up.”

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Though the horse is sturdy enough, it sways alarmingly when a stiff breeze blows, which it frequently does in the open windy plains around this area. Unlike Amit, I was reluctant to lean out too much and was content to sit on the bench just beneath the window (inside the horse).

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Chal mere ghode………. 🙂

The story of Troy has two main aspects – the legend of Tory, and the history of the city of Troy
Legend: Homer, in his epic poem Iliad, recounts events that occurred in the tenth year of the siege of Troy by a coalition of Greek States. In the epic, the reason for the war is the abduction of Helen, the wife of Menelaus, by Paris, a Trojan Prince. Agamemnon, the brother of Menelaus, gathers together former suitors of Helen, and a few fearless warriors including Achilles, and embarks on a journey across the sea to reclaim Helen.
After 10 years, the Trojan War reaches a stalemate, with the Greeks unable to return to Sea and the Trojans confined to the city, protected by the strong fortifications.
The wily Greeks pretend to retreat, leaving a wooden horse outside the city gates, ostensibly as a peace offering. In fact, the horse is hollow, with Greek Soldiers hidden in its belly. The unsuspecting Trojans transport the horse through the gates and proceed to celebrate their victory. However, at night, the Greek Soldiers sneak out of the horse and open the gates to let in their comrades, thus leading to the defeat of Troy.
History: Troy was a strategically important harbour city which was destroyed and built over at least nine times. The first city on the site of Troy was Wilusa, founded in the 3rd millenium BC by the Hittites. There was a Trojan War, which possibly took place in the 12th century BC, and it was around this time Hittite Wilusa was converted to Hellenic Illion, and later Troia. The true reason for the war, however, was probably related to trade and control of the trade route.
Later invaders preferred to focus on the Bosphorus rather than the Dardanelles, and after the Emperor Constantine made Constantinople the capital, Troy declined in significance.
From the time of the Byzantine Empire, Troy was thought to be fiction, a product of Homer’s imagination.
Rediscovery: Heinrich Schliemann was a German Businessman and self-proclaimed Archaeologist, who had been fascinated by Troy ever since he read the Iliad as a child. After meeting Frank Calvert, a British Archaeologist, he decided to follow his advice and search for the remains of Troy on Hisarlik Hill, which was a part of Calvert’s property.
At the time that Schliemann began his excavation in 1871, Archaeology was in its infancy and modern techniques of careful digging and documentation had not been adopted. Believing Homeric Troy to be among the lowest levels, he blasted his way down using dynamite, and regrettably destroying valuable material in the process. At the level of Troy II, he found a stash of gold and precious jewels, erroneously labelled “Priam’s Treasure.” This treasure would actually have been from a time centuries before Priam (father of Paris) ruled Troy. The treasure was smuggled out of Turkey, taken to Berlin, looted from there in 1945, and is now in Russia. Authorities in both countries (Germany and Russia) are still contesting the ownership of the treasure.
While Schliemann designated Troy II as Homeric Troy, recent excavations have suggested that it was actually Troy VIIa that was destroyed during a war, possibly the Trojan War Homer wrote about.
We finally proceeded towards the ruins – though we both found the story and the legend of Troy fascinating, the few stone walls and structures visible at the site would probably only be of interest to serious Archaeologists, or people with vivid imaginations.
The first structure as one begins the tour is the boundary wall from Troy VI.

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In this photo one can see the infamous Schliemann Trench, where he literally blasted his way through layers of history. In the background one can see the current coastline, which is approximately 5km from the city ruins, as a result of silting up of the harbour earlier formed by waters of the river Scamander.

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Archaeologists are still marking out the various levels, the markers for Troy III, IV and IX can be seen in this photo.

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There is a partially restored ramp from Troy II, on which the Trojan horse was claimed to have been transported into the city. This is now known to be factually incorrect, but if there actually was a Trojan horse, it would probably have been taken along a similar ramp…….

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Further ahead lies the reconstructed Odeon or Theatre. Imagine musical performances here……

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We left Troy and drove towards Geyikli, our aim being to take the ferry to Bozcaada Island. Unfortunately, the last ferry had just left by the time we reached the terminal, so we decided to head to our hotel. We spoke to the owner, who told us to wait near the ferry boat terminal and said he would come to pick us up. We went to a café nearby, and after trying and failing to explain what cold coffee was, ordered hot coffee and sat down to wait.
In a short while, an affable gentleman turned up, introduced himself as Mr Taci, the owner of Geyikli Herrara, and asked us to follow his vehicle. When we tried to pay the bill for our coffee, we were informed that Taci Bey had already settled the amount. He waved aside our thanks and offers to pay him back, and got into his vehicle to lead the way.
As we began to follow, we realised why he had not given us directions over the phone – although the hotel was only a short distance away, there were several unmarked turns through small streets on the way.
We parked near the gate, and were immediately greeted by excited barking – the two dogs at the hotel were by the gate, excited to see Taci Bey. He offered to have them moved away before we entered, but we love dogs and spent some time playing with them.
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After depositing our bags in our very comfortable room, we went for a walk on the beach and spotted the Island of Bozcaada in the distance.
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We watched the sun setting over the Aegean Sea, then headed back to our hotel.
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At the hotel, we were lucky to be the only guests for the night, and spent a wonderful evening with Taci Bey, an excellent host who had spent several years in Europe, and regaled us with stories of his travels.
He prepared a special tea for my sore throat, which was very soothing.
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We then had a delicious dinner prepared by the cook and bade our host a good night.
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