A museum established in the ancient city of Troy would draw more tourists to the area and further increase the tourism potential of Çanakkal province that lies at the narrow entrance of the Dardanelles, according to experts.
Troy, one of the nine sites in Turkey included on the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization's (UNESCO) World Heritage List, has always attracted great attention and has been a significant cultural and tourism spot. Its multi-layered fabric still carries the vestiges of nine different civilizations that emerged one after the other. It was also the subject of the Illiad, one of two ancient Greek epic poems attributed to Homer.
Visited by about 500,000 Turkish and foreign tourists each year, the ancient city of Troy was accepted to UNESCO's World Heritage List 10 years ago, thanks to great efforts by Professor Manfred Osman Korfmann, who was the director of excavations at Troy and passed away a few years ago, as well as his colleague, Assistant Professor Rüstem Aslan and Culture and Tourism Ministry representatives.
Troy was included on UNESCO's World Heritage List for its contributions to world cultural history with its rich archaeological heritage and mythological past. UNESCO also added the following Turkish cultural heritage sites: Istanbul's historic sites; the Divriği Ulu Mosque and Hospital (Şihafane) in the Divriği complex; Göreme National Park and the Cappadocia rock cliffs; Hattuşa, capital of the Hittites; Mount Nemrut; Xhantos-Letoon; Hierapolis-Pamukkale and Safranbolu.
However, the steps being taken to open a museum in Troy were brought to a halt three years ago. Çanakkale Governor Orhan Kırlı said that the UNESCO World Heritage List was a crucial project prepared by universally acclaimed scientists and artists. Kırlı said that although the ancient city of Troy is included on such an important list, authorities in Turkey lagged behind in introducing it to the world.
Museum should be supported by world sponsors'
For Kırlı, Troy urgently needs a large museum. Historic artifacts unveiled in Troy are being exhibited in various countries around the world. Therefore Troy, one of the historic sites included on UNESCO's World Heritage List, should have a museum up to world standards. In fact, steps have already been taken to do that. A museum can definitely be founded in this huge archaeological settlement with the support of world sponsors who have an interest in culture and history. This would absolutely be a contribution to world culture. This is a genuine mission, said Kırlı. Whoever pioneers the museum to be founded in Troy, he or she would be undertaking a big task, an important duty, he added. If the ancient city of Troy is a world asset that is included in world heritage list, then a world-standard museum complex should be established there with contributions from world sponsors.
According to Kırlı, the museum, if founded, would also pave the way for the development of the economy of Çanakkale. This is because the museum project would be one that would create a quarter of the whole economy of Çanakkale. There are many examples of that in the world.
Kırlı said some tourists became disappointed when they visited Troy because of its current condition. But those who know its history are mostly overcome with admiration for the ancient city, he added.
Works of art moved from the ancient city of Troy are exhibited in other places. In Troy, you have the chance to see, layer by layer, all the settlements that belonged to the erstwhile civilizations established there, but you cannot see any remnants of how people once used to live here," he said. "But if we could realize the museum project and prove that we have developed in the field of museums, then, one day, artifacts that belonged to Troy but currently abroad would be handed back to us without any hesitation.
Troy, already an asset for Turkey
Assistant director of excavations in the ancient city of Troy, Assistant Professor Rüstem Aslan, said Troy was accepted to the UNESCO World Heritage List for the very marks it has left on both European and world history.
With its glorious mythological past and rich archaeological heritage, Troy is a spot where the East merges, clashes and then reconciles with the West. No one can dare discuss or question the importance of Troy to these lands. And Troy's contributions in the fields of architecture, theater, art, and cinema continue.
The biggest problem facing Troy today is that it lacks a museum, said Aslan. When a museum is opened, visits to Troy will gain momentum. Sightseeing tours that often take two-hours will lengthen to half a day. When visitors come to see Troy, they will stay in Çanakkale, therefore tourism in the city will boom, said Aslan. In addition, once the museum is opened, we shall have the chance to present to the whole world the remnants of Troy that are still in Turkey.
Aslan also said the museum should have a remarkable architectural style. Tourists should come here to see the physical structure of the museum as well. He also suggests that an international competition be held with the participation of prominent national and international architects with experience in museum work. Many people in Europe are waiting for the concrete steps that should be taken to open a museum in Troy. If this project comes to life, it will also make contributions to Turkey's relations with the European Union (EU), concluded Aslan.