RBL, Kyrenia Branch: Çanakkale
Despatches, Day 2 – 21st September 2012
By Chris Elliott
After we had all had a hearty breakfast we all congregated outside the Akol Hotel where the air was crisp and clear with the sun shining on the glistening sea. Soon we boarded our Seymen tour coach with the driver Candan, and our guide Tamer, plus Fatma Thomas and her daughter Alison who would be translating for RBL members for the first trip out to the ancient city of Troy and later excursions.
Travelling south from Çanakkale we retraced our route from the night before and it was so refreshing to see places in a different light. Again there were signs of many housing developments and I photographed one site where the holiday apartments seemed to be for sale with prices starting from 250.000TL around (£85,729).
One thing which is very noticeable is the road building with very good quality roads between Izmir and Çanakkale and in many places new sections are being constructed to replace older roads and all this without EU money?
The other thing that is so noticeable is the lack of rubbish even in park areas. When families were having their BBQ’s there was very little litter left behind and if it were then it was collected for disposal. In North Cyprus the blight of rubbish has been a major problem which has been tackled with major improvements being made but to eradicate the problem forever , where there is a will, there is a way.
After a very pleasant and scenic journey we arrived at the Troy park complex where we were given electronic tickets and ushered through turnstiles where we were then free to start looking around at the gift shops, architectural relics and of course the wooden horse before we started on our tour of the site. One strange thing happened when the gate usher chased after us all to take back our tickets?
There was a party of attendants dressed in period costumes who half-heartedly were believing they were sword fighting and their main interest seemed to be in selling pictures of themselves to the tourists. When I came along waving my trusty camera the second Trojan war nearly started as I was offered the blunt end of a spear unless I did not stop taking pictures of them.
The complex was very busy with many groups being shown around and it’s curious how the Japanese people seem to stand out in a crowd with their always present cameras and the group leaders having their own taste in identity flags attached to their backs.
Some of our group who marvelled at the huge wooden horse were tempted to climb up inside and then hang out of the windows way up at the top so we could marvel at their cunning and bravery as the new shock troops ready to take over Troy again.
Soon our guide arrived who spoke excellent English and he said he runs a book shop locally and from what he was soon to tell us he was an expert and lover of his country’s ancient history.
To say the least, this site is said to be ancient Troy and by virtue of ancient writings which record its location on a hill with many visual reference points nearby, this is where the belief has come from that this truly is the site of ancient Troy.. When you see the scale of the site and understand it has upwards of ten levels of development and occupation then you can be as sure as anyone can be that this really is Troy and you are standing on the ground where perhaps King Priam, Helen, Paris, Hector, Achilles, Ajax, King Agamemnon and Menelaus and the other heroes of those times stood, loved, fought and in some cases, died.
Walking around the paths and past remains of walls you get that eerie feeling of a very special place where many thousands of people have lived or visited in those dark and remote times. The guide said that very little has been found of human remains as these would have been buried mostly outside the town on the lower ground and with the nearby waterway changing direction over the centuries and with the massive silting of the estuary and land mass which created swamps which were drained in the past, so the evidence of past history may have been moved far away.
When you stand on the remains of the temple of Athena you are at the highest point and as the guide points out the location features mentioned in ancient texts, you become aware of the validity of the claim that this is truly Troy. Standing there you are also reminded of the strategic importance of this site and looking down you perhaps can imagine the thousand ships that landed and the hoards of Menelaus preparing to do battle and take the city in an area which is now rich farmland and not the long disappeared beaches.
There is even a site in the city where a fabulous treasure trove was located and as much of the town still remains uncovered, perhaps there is much more to discover in the years to come.
There is so much to see and try to understand that I will shortly write another article with as many pictures as I can include so that our readers have a greater understanding of what we saw and witnessed on our visit to the ancient city of Troy.
Soon it was time to leave and after a short drive we stopped for tea, coffee or cooling drinks at a local restaurant and we also had time to look at many ornaments, trinkets and books before moving on to have lunch at the sea front Lydia Restaurant on the outskirts of Çanakkale and also a a brief wander through their large garden area and along the seashore path and marvel at the size of the ships that were moving past us.
From here the coach drove back to the center of the town to the 2 local outdoor markets where we could wander around and get a feel of being with the locals, enjoy their culture and spend some pocket money on bits and bobs before either going back to the hotel on the coach or explore more on foot.
After all of that walking and exploring we all returned to our hotel for a drink and a nice evening meal.
Later we had the pleasure of attending a talk by renowned historian, Anton Bantock about his quest to research and record the history and also the people involved in the Gallipoli campaign of 1915 which was spellbinding with extracts from his book “Not All Came Back”.
This important subject again is a too large to cover here so I intend writing another article on this subject shortly.
Now it was time for that nightcap before preparing for an even more adventurous and demanding excursion on the following day to Gallipoli and hopefully meet again with Anton.