Troy (Turkish: Truva or Troya) is an ancient city in what is now northwestern Turkey, made famous in Homer’s epic poem, the Iliad. According to Iliad, this is where the legendary Trojan War took place. Today it is an archaeological site popular with travellers from all over the world, and in addition to being a Turkish national park, it is on the World Heritage List of UNESCO.
The first city on the site of Troy was Wilusa, founded in the 3rd millenium BC by the Hittites, who were the first indigenous Anatolian people to rise to form a state during the Bronze Age. Situated over the Hisarlık Hill on the northwestern tip of Troad Peninsula, it was clear that the reason for the city's existence in the first place was a total control of Dardanelles, which, along with the Sea of Marmara and the Bosphorus, is today known as the Turkish Straits, a key route connecting Mediterranean with the Black Sea, as well as being where European and Asian landmasses are almost just a stone's throw away from each other.
The abduction of Helen, the daughter of the king of Sparta, by Paris, a Trojan prince, sparked emnity between the Trojans and Achaeans from across the Aegean Sea, or so says the story. Having been unable to break into the defensive walls of the city, Achaeans decided to set up a trick—they offered a huge wooden horse as a gift to Trojans, as an amend for the bother they caused with their war galleys on the city's beach. Trojans accepted the offer sincerely, but this resulted in them losing their city, as inside of the horse was full of Achaean soldiers, ready to combat, and now right in the centre of the city.
For all its actuality, there was a Trojan War, which possibly took place in the 12th century BC, and it was around this time Hittite Wilusa was converted to Hellenic Illion, and later Troia. However, for some reason, all later invaders from all directions, with the notable exception of Alexander the Great (who founded the city of Alexandria Troas on the coast south of Troy), favoured Bosphorus to northeast instead of Dardanelles for their intercontinental crossings. The Roman emperor Constantine I (r. 306-337) agreed as well, founding a new capital for his empire, Constantinople, on the banks of Bosphorus. As Constantinople flourished, its geographical rival Troy declined, eventually disappearing under layers of dirt.
Since the days of Byzantine Empire, Troy was thought to be nothing but Homer's pure imagination, but in 1868, Heinrich Schliemann, a German businessman and a self-proclaimed archaeologist, proved otherwise, after taking the hint that Troy might be a real place buried under the Hisarlık Hill from Frank Calvert, a British archaeologist who visited the site three years earlier. As Schliemann's excavations were totally amateurish, it damaged the integrity of much of the remains, but Schliemann obtained what he yearned for anyway—his Greek spouse Sophia Schliemann is immortalized in a photo showing her wearing the treasures found at the Hisarlık Hill (part of the treasure was later taken by the Red Army from Berlin to Moscow at the end of World War II).
Although almost a century and a half passed since the days of Schliemann, Troy still hasn't been unearthed completely yet, and the excavation works still continue to this day.
Once a harbour city on the edge of a deep bay of Dardanelles, the site now lies 5 km inland from the coast due to the alluvial material carried by the River Scamander (modern Karamenderes), which filled the bay, turning it into the fertile, flat farmland stretching out to the sea that it is.
In modern Turkish, there is a tendency of shifting of the name of the site from Truva, which reflects the pronounciation of French name of the place (Troie) as that was the language of choice among the Turkish elites up to 1950s, to Troya, which is closer to the original Greek name, although both can still be heard interchangably.
The nearest main center is Çanakkale, about 30 km to the north of Troy. There are minibuses that travel to and from the Çanakkale local bus station, which is located under the bridge by the river. The trip takes ~45 minutes. From Çanakkale, the minibuses are scheduled (as of 2012/01) to leave every hour starting at 7AM with the last one at 3PM. To get back, they leave hourly starting at 9:30AM with the last one leaving at 5:30PM. An up to date schedule can be found in the Tourist Information office in Çanakkale near the ferry port.
The site is 2 km off the Çanakkale-Izmir highway (D550/E87). Road signs (saying either Truva, Troya, Troy, or Troia, sometimes two of them on the same signpost) will direct you, starting from the ferry harbour in Çanakkale.
The path through the ruins is well marked, but quite rocky and slippery in places. Be sure to wear proper walking shoes.
Explore the ruins.
Troy was destroyed and rebuilt nine times over, and each of nine different layers still has something left to this day, although amateurish archaeological excavations of late 1800s damaged some of them a lot more than others. The layer that is thought to be depicted in Homer's Iliad is likely Troy VII, a portion of the legendary walls of which is still intact.
The admission fee to the site is 15 TL pp. Make sure that you don't accept any of the 'old' Turkish money as change from the admission office. You wont be able to use it outside of Troy (for some reason certain locations still accept and distribute the old 'New Turkish Lira') and you will have to change it at a bank.
Climbing up the ladders of (fake, re-constructed) Trojan horse in the entrance of the site is an inevitable part of Troy experience. Better do it on weekdays as the ladders (and the interior of the horse itself) may be crowded at weekends by schoolchildren on a schooltrip (a situation which makes climbing up and down those steep stairs rather unpleasent). Winter is a fantastic time to visit Troy, as there are very few tourists around and you may even get the fake horse to yourself.
Staying in Çanakkale and visiting Troy as a day-trip is also possible.
There are public payphones just off the entrance of the ancient city. Telephone code for the area is (+90) 286.