The ancient city of Troy was both a city in fact as well as in legends. Located in northwest Anatolia in Turkey, it is best known for being at the center of the Trojan War described in the Iliad by Homer. A new city named Ilium was established on the site of Troy during the reign of the Roman Emperor Augustus. It flourished until the establishment of Constantinople and declined gradually during the Byzantine era. In 1865, English archaeologist Frank Calvert excavated trial trenches in a field he had bought from a local farmer at Hisarlık, and in 1868 Heinrich Schliemann, a wealthy German businessman and archaeologist, also began excavating in the area after a chance meeting with Calvert in Çanakkale. These excavations revealed that several cities had been built in succession. Schliemann was at first skeptical about the identification of Hissarlik with Troy but was persuaded by Calvert and took over Calvert's excavations on the eastern half of the Hissarlik site, which was on Calvert's property. Today the hill at Hisarlik has given its name to a small village near the ruins whose economy is based on the tourist activity at the Troia archaeological site. It lies within the province of Çanakkale, some 30 kilometers south west of the provincial capital, also called Çanakkale. Troia became a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1998.
The Roman de Troie was common cultural ground for European dynasties, due to the fact that a Trojan pedigree was both impressively ancient and established an equality with the ruling class of Rome. A so-called Trojan pedigree could justify the occupation of parts of Rome's former territories. Thus, the Franks filled the lacunae of their legendary origins with Trojan and pseudo-Trojan names to support their validity. In Fredegar's 7th-century chronicle of Frankish history, Priam appears as the first king of the Franks. The Trojan origin of France was such an established article of faith that in 1714 the learned Nicolas Fréret was Bastilled for offering historical criticism that the Franks had been Germanic. This was a sore point which ran counter to the Valois and Bourbon propaganda. In a similar manner, Geoffrey of Monmouth reworked earlier material such as the Historia Brittonum to trace the legendary kings of the Britons from a supposed descendant of Aeneas called Brutus. Likewise, Snorri Sturluson, in the Prologue to his Icelandic Prose Edda, traced the genealogy of the ancestral figures in Norse mythology to characters appearing at Troy in Homer's epic, notably making Thor to be the son of Memnon. Sturluson referred to these figures as having made a journey across Europe towards Scandinavia, setting up kingdoms as they went.
Helen of Troy was considered one of the most beautiful woman in the world, but looking at the art depicting Helen, her fame may have been due to more to her powerful lineage than her physical beauty. Helen was one of the daughters of Tyndareus, the King of Sparta, and her mother was Leda, who had allegedly been either raped or seduced by Zeus in the form of a swan. Helen is usually credited as being Zeus' daughter, and had scores of suitors, and her father was unwilling to choose one for fear the others would retaliate with violence. Finally, one of the suitors, Odysseus of Ithaca, proposed a plan to solve the kings dilemma. In exchange for Tyndareus' support of his own suit for Penelope, he suggested that Tyndareus require all of Helen's suitors to promise that they would defend the marriage of Helen, regardless of whom he chose. The suitors duly swore the required oath on the severed pieces of a horse, although not without a certain amount of dissent. Tyndareus chose Menelaus. Menelaus was a political choice on her father's part because he possessed wealth and power. He had humbly not petitioned for Helen himself, but instead sent his brother Agamemnon on his behalf.
Province: Çanakkale Province
Airport: Istanbul Airport
English language website: troy-information.com
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