World’s first metropolis, Old Istanbul
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In the first part we will be telling, there is a small excavation site compared to the size of the city. Excavations are expected to take years considering to the size of the city. There are temples and some palace ruins in this part. If you go inside from here, you will reach the city’s amphitheater covered with plants. To the right of the amphitheater there is a building believed to be an old temple or church. You can visit this building carefully. A secret passage, which is determined to go to the present excavation site, was found inside the building. For safety reasons, this passage is filled with debris. From the elevation on the left side of the amphitheater, you can reach the top seating area and watch the sunset and Bozcaada. What about the story of Alexandria-Troas?
Alexandria-Troas means Alexander’s Troia. When Alexander the Great (Reign: 336 – 323 BC) died in Babylonia, near present-day Baghdad, his great empire, extending from Macedonia to India, was divided among its commanders. In the first division, most of Anatolia, including the Biga peninsula or Troia peninsula, where Alexandria-Troas was located, Syria and Lebanon remained with Antigonus Monophthalmus I (one-eyed Antigon), one of the commanders of Alexander the Great. Antigonus decided to establish a large city, which would be named after him, on the old settlement of Sigia located exactly here. The city began to be built between 310 and 306 BC, and he named the city as “Antigoneia” that means the city of Antigonus and “Antigoneia-Troas” relative to the legendary region of Troy where it was founded. Antigonus ordered the inhabitants of the surrounding cities to move to Antigoneia to live in this city that can be considered colossal for the period he established it. He forced the inhabitants of all cities to move to Antigoneia, from Kolonia on the cradle-like hill, located on the shore towards Tavaklı Pier when you look south from Alexandria-Troas, to Neandria, the richest, largest and prosperous city of the region, and to Hamaxitus, Larisa and Chrysa. As the symbol of the city, Neandreia’s “grazing horse”symbol was adopted and printed on the coins. The city was surrounded by city walls of 7.5 – 8 kilometers in length and about 3 meters thick. A large harbor, breakwater and lighthouse was built. In addition, an inner wall was built inside the city. The theater, the palace, the Odeon, the multi-purpose hall of the period, and numerous houses were built. The city soon reached an unprecedented size for that time. Considering the world population of those days, it became a metropolis for that period and became a city where tens of thousands lived.
As with all great legacies, great problems arose after the division of the Alexander the Great Empire. Alexander’s commanders fell out with each other, dissatisfied with their share. Lysimachus, one of the generals of Alexander the Great, who was victorious in the Battle of Ipsus in 301 BC near Afyon, became the ruler of Antigoneia-Troas along with some of Anatolia. For the first thing, Lysimachus changed the name of the city to Alexandria-Troas in the sense of Troia of Alexander the Great, in honor of his former ruler. The city grew rapidly and became a bridge city connecting east and West. In the Hellenistic period that began after Alexander the Great, trade routes from India to Macedonia and the Balkans turned to Alexandria-Troas. The exotic goods of the East, all of Anatolia’s, Middle East’s and Egypt’s exports were sent from Alexandria-Troas to Europe, in the meantime, everyone coming from Europe to Asia began to set foot at this city first.
According to Strabon, one of the travelers and writers of ancient times, the city’s population exceeded 100,000. Considering that the world’s population was around 40 million during that period, it is understood how big and important the city was.
During the Roman Empire the importance of the city gradually increased as well. During the reign of Emperor Augustus (27-14 BC) and his successive nephew, the city was used as if it were the capital of the Roman Empire. The city was called Colonia Alexandria Augusta Troas or Troas in short.
Saul or St. Paul of Tarsus, one of Jesus’s disciples, who tried to spread Christianity after Jesus, visited Alexandria-Troas three times. These visits are also described in the Bible. As explained in the Gospels, the reason for the arrival of Saint Paul to Troas, who was trying to go Europe to preach Christianty at that time, was that the ships leaving for Europe was departing from there, and the city was too big and nonignorable. Every time he came to the city, there were extraordinary events. One time, Saint Paul resurrected a dead child as we mentioned in the section of Kestanbol thermal springs, and once he had a dream that he was ordered to preach the European people. Alexandria-Troas is also accepted as the first city to accept Christianity. In the Catholic and Orthodox Churches, a high-level position known as the Troas Bishop still continues its existence.
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