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Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Turkey - Troy, Canakkale & Bergama (2004)

Date of visit: 19th November 2004

On 14th April 2004, the American epic war film “Troy” directed by Wolfgang Petersen, starring Brad Pitt as Achilles with Eric Bana, Orlando Bloom and Diane Kruger was released. The film ends with a speech from Odysseus, "If they ever tell my story, let them say I walked with giants. Men rise and fall like the winter wheat, but these names will never die. Let them say I lived in the time of Hector, tamer of horses. Let them say I lived in the time of Achilles".

The wooden horse from the 2004 "Troy" movie in Canakkale

We arrived in Canakkale city a night before by ferry ride. Çanakkale is a town and seaport in Turkey, in Çanakkale Province, on the southern of Asian coast. The population of this town is slightly above than 100 thousand. Çanakkale Province, like Istanbul Province, has territory in both Europe and Asia sides. Ferries cross here to the northern (European) side of the strait.

Ferry ride, crossing the Dardanelle straits to Canakkale city on 18th Nov 2004

The city is the nearest major town to the site of ancient Troy. The "wooden horse" from the 2004 movie Troy is exhibited on the seafront. Çanakkale is the second city situated on the 2 continents after Istanbul. However Çanakkale is closer to mid-division than Istanbul.


We left quite early in the morning for some pictures at the wooded statue erected in nearby city, not far from the hotel that we stayed for a night. Thereafter, the bus took us to the legendary Troy ruin site about 30km from Canakkale town. Our friendly tour guide who is also a history lecturer gave a briefing of the site, of which I knew quite well from the movie 6 months earlier. So, here I was, setting my foot on the ground where a beautiful Helen caused a heartbreaking war in the name of love.  

Troy ruin site
Zuri & I with 2 of our group member, a contractor in partnership

Troia was added to the UNESCO World Heritage list in 1998. A city was once called Ilium was founded on the site in the reign of the Roman Emperor Augustus. It flourished until the establishment of Constantinople and declined gradually during the Byzantine era. Today, the hill at Hisarlik has given its name to a small village near the ruins, supporting the tourist trade visiting the Troia archaeological site.  The map of the old city shows the adapted Scamander estuary with Ilium a little way inland across the Homeric plain.

Standing in Troy looking at a faraway shoreline, I had a silence wish to visit Greece, a home of Archiles and I did visit Greece, Summer Vacation in Greece in 2008 but had forgotten about Archiles by then

From Troia archaeological site, the bus continue south by the coastal road to reach Pergamon, another ancient historic city. It was a journey of about 200km on the road to Acropolis of Pergamon, an ancient Greek city in Aeolis. The ruin site is currently located 26 kilometres from the Aegean Sea on a promontory on the north side of the river Caicus. Today, the main sites of ancient Pergamon are to the north and west of the modern city of Bergama in Turkey.

Zuri & I at the ruin of Pergamon's library on the Acropolis site

We started to climb the ruin city by 3pm in a nice weather, whilst our tour guide was chatting about the history of the ruin Acropolis. Back then, I was not even paying so much attention but puzzled when he informed that the Great Altar of Pergamon is now in Berlin. What I saw on site was only it's base seated by beautiful sight of the hill.  


After I built an interest of the history told in the 5 Holly Books, I searched the reason why it was taken to a faraway land. The Great Altar of Pergamon is in the Pergamon Museum, Berlin. The base of this altar remains on the upper part of the Acropolis. It was perhaps this altar, believed to be dedicated to Zeus, that John of Patmos referred to as "Satan's Throne" in his Book of Revelation (Revelation 2:13I know thy works, and where thou dwellest, even where Satan’s seat is: and thou holdest fast my name, and hast not denied my faith, even in those days wherein Antipas was my faithful amartyr, who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth”). A smaller frieze on a wall inside the Altar of Pergamon depicted the life of Telephus, son of Heracles and legendary founder of Pergamon.


I also had an opportunity to see Pergamon's library on the Acropolis (the ancient Library of Pergamum) which was once the 2nd best in the ancient Greek civilization. When the Ptolemies stopped exporting papyrus, partly because of competition and shortages, the Pergamenes invented a new substance to use in codices, called pergaminus or pergamena (parchment) after the city. This was made of fine calfskin, a predecessor of vellum. The library at Pergamom was believed to contain 200,000 volumes, which Mark Antony later gave to Cleopatra as a wedding present.


We were overnight in nearby city, Izmir located about 100km from Bergama.

To be continued...
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