Troy and Ephesus: Legendary Ancient Cities Captivate Visitors
The legendary impregnable city of Troy did and does exist. It sits high atop a hill just outside the seaport city of Canakkale, Turkey. The city of Ephesus known as the best preserved ancient site in the world sits beyond the seaport city of Kusadasi, Turkey. These two important centers of antiquity captivate the imagination of their many visitors.
TroyDid the Spartans really fight a 10-year long war with the Trojans over Helen as Homer penned? Or were they looking for an excuse to conquer this important trade route city? Most people today believe the latter. What ever the reason the fact remains the city walls of Troy were strong and impregnable and invaders had to use a clever strategy to conquer the city.
Many parts of these strong walls built 5,000 B.C. are still standing today. What an awesome feeling one gets wandering the remains of this legendary city. During the Byzantine times the city went into decline and disappeared. The lost site of Troy was finally discovered in 1871 by Heinrich Sclliemann while pursuing his life long dream of finding the treasure of Helen. He was untrained for archeological digs and unknowingly did much damage to the site. His find were jewels, but not Helens, he had dug too deep. However after his discovery organized excavations began and are continuing to this day. There are nine different periods of settlement revealed so far. It is believed that Troy VII is the period of King Priam his son Paris and Helen since traces of a huge fire were found.
I was very surprised at how much of the ancient city remained. I was even more surprised at how touched I was to be standing on what seemed to be hallowed ground -- thanks to Homer and Hollywood.
The paths are rough and uneven it may be hard to explore for persons with infirmed walking abilities.
Most of the artifacts found at this site are on display at the Canakkale Museum, a most interesting place to go directly after leaving the site. The artifacts are displayed in period order; they include toys, dolls, tools and some spectacular statues.
I found the main entrance to the city quite engaging, while trying to picture the wooden horse being pushed or pulled over the terrain. After seeing the gates I do believe Hollywood embellished the size of the horse and men needed to open them for the rest of the army to enter.
One may drive to the site yourself or take a guided bus tour; I recommend the latter as the guides can tell you exactly what you are looking at, who built it and when.
The signage is not very good yet. At some point the excavation and the knowledge learned from the site will be tremendous. So far the treasure of Helen has not been found. It is still waiting to be discovered.
EphesusEphesus when first settled was on a bay where the Kucuk Menderes River reached the sea and because of its location became an important economic and political center. The tourist who visits this UNESCO site will find the majestic achievements of the Romans, as well as lesser known civilizations that occupied this site, displayed in the grandeur, grace and elegance that is associated with the Roman Empire.
The site is large and will include a fair amount of walking over rough uneven ground, I saw a few people with walkers and they were having great difficulty. Bus tours will normally give you a choice of two drop-off points one for those able to walk down Curetes Street and another close to the library without the down hill walk on the rather rough white marble walkway. Along this walkway are many monuments of interest. It is an extraordinary street with displays of ancient art work and the ancient way of life, the Memmius Monument, Heracles Gate and the Houses on the Slopes where the aristocrats lived.
The place I found most fascinating were the public baths which contained a large room with open toilet seating along three walls allowing for socializing conversations and included both sexes. In the center of the room was an orchestra pit where musicians would play “To cover the bad noises” said our guide. The Romans apparently did everything with style.
At the end of Curetes Street you enter the square in front of the very large and majestic Library of Celsus. Only the front façade is left. From this incredible entrance we can only imagine the grandeur of the complete library. Across the square up on the hill side was the brothel. And to make sure all knew how to get there a foot print pointing the way with a sign was carved into the pavement.
The 25,000 seat 3-tiered great theatre was first built B.C. with Nero adding the second tier in the first century, and the third added in the second century. Combat between Christians and the followers of Artemis (idolatry) took place here. Today it is used for concerts. Despite its prominence, slowly the harbor began filling with silt, and by the 15th century the great city was abandoned as it was no longer located on the coastline.
We reached these sites on definitely not to be missed shore excursion as passengers with Elegant Cruises and Tours, one of the small-ship cruise lines able to dock in the smaller harbors. There are also bus tours such as Globus that take tourist to these unforgettable, but more remote sites.
Bobbie Green grew up in southern California. She is a freelance writer and a member of the North American Travel Journalist Association. She has been published in various Senior Wire Publications, The Desert Valley Times, Nevada Magazine, Mesquite Local.com, Travel World International, and Leisuretravelreports.com. Besides enjoying her love of travel by doing it as often as she can, she enjoys photography and attends numerous travel trade functions. Presently she is enjoying desert living in Mesquite Nevada.