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Tuesday, June 21, 2016

A Truly Epic Story of Troy with Neyzen

After a few incredible days exploring Istanbul and an unforgettable day discovering Gallipoli our next stop on our Neyzen Travel itinerary was the ancient site of Troy! Most people only know about Troy from the movie but I learnt all about it both at school and at university and so to visit and explore the site with literally no one else around was such an incredible experience. The site of Troy was the home to a number of civilisations for more than 4,000 years and what remains today is a truly remarkable insight into the history of these civilisations!



After a big day in Gallipoli and a fantastic night in Eceabat at Casa Villa Hotel we headed off towards Troy! We caught a ferry across the Dardanelles Straits to Canakkale which took about 20 minutes before continuing onward to the majestic ancient civilisation of Troy!



TROY
Our first stop of the day was at the ancient site of Troy which most people know from the blockbuster film starring Brad Pitt! What most people don't know is that Troy is famous for an outsanding 46 levels of occupation from 3000 BCE to 400 CE! The first civilisation began in the Bronze Age when Troy seems to have been a flourishing mercantile city, since its location allowed for total control of the Dardanelles through which every merchant ship from the west and Aegean Sea heading for the Black Sea and the East had to pass. This incredibly strategic and valuable location no doubt accounts for the inexorable creation and recreation of the city throughout known history. It is really interesting that whilst Troy was once a harbour city, the site now lies 3 miles inland from the coast!

Despite this, the ancient ruins of Troy are still very much as the epic poet Homer described: ‘…steep, broad, holy, fertile, windy, frowning, of good walls, good towers, good foals, high gates, broad streets’. In the 1870s it was the German archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann who first excavated the area, subsequently revealing the many cities built in succession to each other. One of these earlier cities, Troy II, is often identified with legendary Homeric Troy, and centre of the Trojan War.

Overall, what remains to explore in Troy is an incredible insight into 4000 years of civilisations since the Bronze Age! In scientific terms, Troy’s extensive remains are the most significant demonstration of the first contact between the civilizations of East and West. Notably, the evidence of widespread fire and slaughter around 1250 BC, which brought Troy VII to an end, has led to this phase being identified with the city besieged by the Greeks during the Trojan War, as immortalized in Homer’s Iliad. The real cause of the Trojan War is thought to be intense commercial rivalry between Troy and the mercantile Mycenaean kingdom, the prize being control of the Dardanelles and the lucrative trade with the Black Sea.

Troy is an incredibly interesting site to visit and it is fantastic to learn about the many different civilisations who lived here over 4,000 years! We hired audio-guides which you can hire at most major sites in Turkey and usually only cost 10 Lira (approximately 3 Euros) and give a wealth of information about the site as you walk around. In addition there are a lot of information boards located around the site providing information in both Turkish and English! There is also a photographer who will dress you up in ancient Greek clothing and take your photo with the wooden horse for 10 Lira which we thought was a serious bargain so couldn't say no and the price even included a take home photograph!
















ALEXANDRIA TROAS
Our next stop was the ruins of Alexandria Troas, an ancient city founded by Alexander the Great’s general in 300 BC which lies 30km south of Troy. The site which was only fairly recently discovered, has no entrance fee and consists mostly of Roman ruins surrounded by 8km of city walls. The main structures that have been excavated are baths, an odeon, a theatre, a basilica and a recently discovered stadium! It was amazing to see these ancient structures from the road as we drove past and to stop and walk around them with no one else around. Alexandria Troas was a fantastic site and well worth the short detour to stop and visit and without Neyzen we would have had no idea they even existed!





APOLLON SYMINTHEION RUINS
We then stopped at the Apollon Symintheion ruins on our way to Assos which was a small town dedicated to the god Apollo that was built on a natural water source. There are quite extensive and well preserved ruins, in particular the temple which makes it well worth a stop!








ASSOS
We arrived to our next destination which was the historic town of Assos where we would be staying at Assos Alarga, a gorgeous boutique hotel. Assos Alarga is situated at the foot of the famous Athena Temple in Assos and is an exclusive, charming and luxurious boutique hotel which offers stunning panoramic views from all its windows  The hotel is ideally located in charming Assos being less than a 5 minute walk to the ruins! Assos Alarga has 5 unique, beautiful rooms all individually designed and decorated to the highest level! The hotel is enchanting and has a relaxed and peaceful atmosphere which ensures its guests will leave feeling rejuvenated! The hotel grounds are beautiful and tranquil with a gorgeous inner garden, a swimming pool, library and BBQ. Breakfast is served in the garden and is a wonderful breakfast that has a Turkish-International flavour and contains a very large selection of delicious, fresh breakfast items which left us all feeling very happy and full! Assos Alarga is owned and run by Ece who is one of the warmest, friendliest and most welcoming hoteliers we've come across in all our travels and truly made us feel at home in her beautiful hotel.


Assos Alarga has five rooms which have each been uniquely designed and each have a private bathroom. We were staying in Room Orsa which is a gorgeous, cosy, comfortable and authentic room located on the top floor of the main building  Our room exhibits original paintings by famous Turkish artist, Mehmet Dennis Gun and offers breathtaking panoramic views of the valley and the Aegean Sea in the distance from both the bedroom and bathroom windows! The room is warmly decorated and very comfortable with all the modern convenience and amenities provided to ensure you have everything you need to make your stay perfect. We loved the working fireplace which would be fantastic during winter! In addition our beautiful wooden and stone floored room also has its own patio overlooking Assos and the hotel's beautiful interior garden below. Our room was fantastic and we loved every moment of our stay at the beautiful Assos Alarga and would not hesitate to recommend a stay with them and we cannot wait to return one day too!


After a perfect afternoon of relaxation by the pool we headed out to dinner. Muge, our fantastic guide and driver (and now friend) told us she had a very special place in mind for dinner and so we headed off on a 20 minute drive from Assos towards the sea. The moment we arrived at this gorgeous little family owned restaurant and hotel we knew we were in for a treat! Our dinner was fantastic and consisted of freshly prepared mezze's along with the freshest of seafood including calamari, prawns and sea bass! It was an incredible meal in a beautiful, unspoiled destination where we were treated to an amazing sunset whilst we tucked into the freshest seafood you can imagine! Food is a huge part of travel for us and we love trying different cuisine's and local foods and Neyzen have taken us to the best, most authentic restaurants with the highest quality food for very reasonable prices which has certainly been one of the highlights of our time in Turkey. 







Turkey so far has been absolutely incredible and today was no exception! Troy is a truly epic place to experience and is a must visit when travelling in Turkey. In addition we also visited the amazing sites of Apollon Symintheion and Alexandria Troas which were both fantastic and were two sites we wouldn't have even knew existed if we were travelling on our own. After a big day of sightseeing and history we couldn't have had a more incredible hotel chosen for us! Assos Alarga is a truly one of a kind boutique hotel with wonderful staff, an unbeatable location and a tranquil, relaxing atmosphere. We have been constantly impressed with the high level of organisation and incredible service we've received from Neyzen Travel throughout our time in Turkey. They truly do choose the best hotels in each destination, know the best (and also unknown) sites to visit along with incredible restaurants that we are sure hardly any tourists get the privilege of visiting during their travels. They've gone above and beyond in every aspect to ensure our trip has been unforgettable and we cannot wait to see what the next two weeks holds for us in this incredible country!



Troy was an incredible site to visit and one we highly recommend visitors to Turkey add to their list! Have you ever been or would you love to visit one day? Let us know! x

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