If you’re a fan of ancient history, or just of Hollywood, then you might be interested in learning that the fabled city of Troy is believed to have existed, in real life, in Turkey.

One of the most important ancient settlements in the world, located at the top of Hisarlık hill about 30 kilometres south of Çanakkale, the history of Troy city dates back to five thousand years ago. Homer’s work regarded as the origin of European literature was based on the city, which was included in UNESCO World Cultural Heritage List in 1998.

Turkey declares 2018 the Year of Troy
Archaeological Site of Troy at Hisarlık Hill

The “Year of Troy”

2018 is the 20th year of the city’s inclusion in UNESCO’s list and the Ministry of Culture and Tourism has declared 2018 as the “Year of Troy”.

The western province of Çanakkale, where the historic city is located, is planning a series of events to celebrate and promote its historical status.

Famous celebrities have been invited to join the celebrations. These include Brad Pitt, Orlando Bloom and other top performing stars who appeared in the 2004 Troy movie.

Turkey declares 2018 the Year of Troy
Troy (2004)

Organisers will also invite international athletes to take part in sports and games competitions and actors will participate in replicating famous scenes from the Trojan war.

Performances by the renowned Fire of Anatolia dance troupe, who have earned countrywide respect for their themed Troy theatrical shows, are widely anticipated.

Turkey declares 2018 the Year of Troy
Fire of Anatolia dance show

A key feature throughout the year will be the 10,000-square meter Troy Museum. With 3000 square meters dedicated to exhibitions, visitors will see a wide range of archaeological artefacts from the city on display.

The number of visitors is expected to double from an average of 500,000.

 The ancient city of Troy

Turkey declares 2018 the Year of Troy
The excavation site on Hisarlık Hill. Photograph by Kareem Shaheem

Excavations on the site started in 1870 and uncovered nine cities, with traces of nine different civilisations, built on top of each other in layers.

The earliest layer of settlement dates back to 3000-2500 BC and the Early Bronze Age. Permanent settlements are observed after these dates, and the layers in Troy end with the Roman period between 85th century BC and 8th century BC.

Today archaeologists believe that the sixth and seventh oldest cities found in layers at Hisarlik are the best candidates for the Troy of The Iliad.

The Trojan War

Troy is the site of the most legendary war in history and the Western world’s oldest adventure story. It begins with a beauty contest and ends with a giant wooden horse unleashing death and destruction.

The face that launched a thousand ships

According to classical sources, the war began after the abduction (or elopement) of Queen Helen of Sparta by the Trojan prince Paris.

Turkey declares 2018 the Year of Troy
Helen of Sparta, more famously known as Helen of Troy

Helen’s jilted husband Menelaus convinced his brother Agamemnon, king of Mycenae, to lead an expedition to retrieve her. Agamemnon was joined by the Greek heroes Achilles, Odysseus, Nestor and Ajax, and accompanied by a fleet of more than a thousand ships from throughout the Hellenic world. They crossed the Aegean Sea to Asia Minor to lay siege to Troy and demand Helen’s return by Priam, the Trojan king.

The Trojan Horse

Turkey declares 2018 the Year of Troy
The Trojan Horse brought down the city of Troy

The siege, punctuated by battles and skirmishes including the storied deaths of the Trojan prince Hector and the nearly-invincible Achilles, lasted more than 10 years until the morning the Greek armies retreated from their camp, leaving a large wooden horse outside the gates of Troy. After much debate (and unheeded warnings by Priam’s daughter Cassandra), the Trojans pulled the mysterious gift into the city. When night fell, the horse opened up and a group of Greek warriors, led by Odysseus, climbed out and sacked the city from within.

Turkey declares 2018 the Year of Troy
The Trojan Horse from the 2004 movie  is on display in the city centre

Excavations are still ongoing in Troy, but in the meantime, Turkey celebrates its historical importance, not only for the country but also for history and literature.

Sources: The Guardian/spot blue/Daily Sabah/history.com/Turkey.HomeUNESCO