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Yes, these are the actual legendary walls of Troy that Homer immortalized in the Iliad. Or what remains of them 3,200 years later. You see here the East Gate of Troy VIIa, the layer demolished in ashes archaeologists believe where the historical basis of the Trojan War occurred in 1180 BC.

This was Troia or Ilium for the ancient Greeks, after the city’s founder Tros and his son Ilus. They firmly believed what Homer described was real history, and the heroes portrayed – Achilles, Hector, Odysseus, Ajax, Patrocles, Paris and Priam – really lived. They knew just where it was – in the northwest corner of what is now Turkey they called the Troad where there were ruins with the tomb of Achilles.

Alexander the Great so firmly believed it was all true that when he crossed the Hellespont in 334 BC to destroy the Persian threat to Greece, he devoutly worshipped at Achilles’ tomb. 2,200 years later everyone thought Troy was a pure myth – all historians certainly did – except for a self-made German businessman named Heinrich Schliemann. He spent his fortune excavating a mound called Hissarlik in 1871 – and found Troy.

Today, you can explore these ruins of history yourself. Go there alone at night with a full moon above. Will the shade of Achilles come forth out of the moonlit shadows to greet you? (Glimpses of Our Breathtaking World #217 photo ©Jack Wheeler)