Destinations, Turkey

Roman Turkey

June 17, 2010

Trojan horse from the movie Troy at Cannakale

After our trip to Gallipoli, we stayed in Eceabat a couple more nights. A quieter option than the larger city of Cannakale across the Dardanelles Strait, we used our comfortable hostel as a base for a visit to the ruins of the city of Troy (Truva in Turkish).

We shouldn’t have bothered. And this was an instance when we should have listened to the advice we’d received, with all sources indicating that a trip out there was a waste of time.

No sign of Brad

We set out on yet another morning that was pushing 35 degrees celsius, getting the ferry across the strait from Eceabat to Cannakale and then a dolmus, a Turkish minibus used for local transportation, to the ticket office at Troy. The return trip wasn’t cheap – costing us 12 Turkish Lira, and entry to the site was a further 15TL.

A circular path winds through the ruins in a rather higgledy-piggeldy fashion, with the odd confusing information board to indicate which settlement of Troy the pile of stones came from. Perhaps interpretation of the site is particularly difficult because of the fact it was not a single city but a series of cities over hundreds of years, but for such an iconic site, there seems to have been little investment in tourism.

We stayed at the ruins for less than an hour, hopping on the next dolmus back to Cannakale when it arrived in the car park. Along the waterfront in Cannakale is the Trojan horse that was used in the movie Troy starring Brad Pitt. That, and the ice cream we had sitting by the harbour, almost made it worth the journey over.

The experience almost scared as off ruins altogether.

Leaving Eceabat, we took a coach six hours south, to the city of Selcuk. Although it’s not quite the size of Cannakale, Selcuk is much larger than Eceabat and we stayed a couple of nights purely because we’d found an excellent restaurant to eat in overlooking the impressive ruins of a Byzantine Aqueduct, now home to nesting storks.

They named a beer after it

We were also in Selcuk to visit the ruins of the city of Ephesus (Efes, same as the beer), supposedly infinitely more impressive than those at Troy. Needless to say, we were dubious.

The further south we went, the hotter it got, so we set out quite early from our guesthouse. The owner dropped us close by the entrance, and we parted sadly with our 20TL for entry, plus 5TL each to share an audio guide.

Looking down Harbour St at Ephesus

According to the guidebook, Ephesus is the “best preserved classical city in the Mediterranean”. Dating from around 600BC, the site is large and only around 30% of the archaeology has been excavated to date. Certainly looking down the marble-paved Harbour St to the great theatre and the library of Celsus is an impressive view, and the excavations have been set out in a way so as it’s easy to get a picture of what the city may have looked like.

We spent nearly three hours walking around the site and listening to the audio guide, which, while occasionally difficult to follow, gave interesting snippets such as the fact it is thought that Cleopatra and Marc Antony visited Ephesus at some point.

As the day grew oppressively warm, we walked the three kilometres back into town before spending the rest of the afternoon at the guesthouse’s swimming pool, which was set just outside of town in an orchard and looked like something out of Tuscany. Followed by a terrific and cheap dinner at our new favourite restaurant, we agreed we’d had a great day, but we were ready hit the Mediterranean in the southern town of Fethiye, our next stop.

Who's afraid of the Middle East? Not Alicia or I. Overlooking the King's Highway, JordanOn my RTW trip during the summer of 2010, I met my friend Alicia in Istanbul and we spent the next 46 days travelling overland through Turkey, Syria and Jordan before I headed to Egypt solo to join up with a quick organised tour through upper Egypt.

Read more about this leg of my trip on my Middle East roundup page.

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