Odeon of Troy

GPS coordinates: 39.956772, 26.238585

Archaeological site: 

Odeon of Troy
Odeon of Troy


This text is a fragment of a guidebook to Troy "The Secrets of Troy (TAN Travel Guide)".

The odeon of Troy, originating most probably from the time of Emperor Octavian Augustus, still has a podium and several rows of marble seats. This building served as a concert-hall as its Greek name means the place for the recitation of odes. Decorative marble blocks, lying in front of the odeon, were once a part of its scaenae frons, i.e. the stage building. It was first discovered by Wilhelm Dörpfeld in 1893 but did not receive much attention from archaeologists until recently.

The Greeks and Romans who lived in Troy during the so-called phases VIII and IX were very clearly conscious about the mythical past of their city. They even called it Ilion or Ilium to emphasize the connection with the Homeric city. Whether or not they believed in the story told in the Iliad is unclear, but they undoubtedly exploited the myth for political and economic advantages.

The walled citadel of Troy remained the core of the city, but it played a role in the up-keeping of the mythical aura. The town attracted many prominent visitors and was the centre of tourism as much as its ruins are today. There is even good literary evidence that the city had a treasury of Trojan War relics with some of the artefacts of Bronze Age date, discovered during the construction of the Greek city.

One of the best-known visitors to Troy was Alexander the Great. He was enchanted by the ancient stories as told by Homer in the Iliad and the Odyssey. His stay at Troy was marked with many highly symbolic gestures. Not only did he sacrifice to Athena, but he also poured libations to the heroes of the Greek army. Then, he smeared himself with oil and ran a raced naked with his companions around the site. He crowned with a wreath the column which marks the grave of Achilles, remarking that Achilles had been happy in having found a faithful friend while he lived and a great poet to sing of his deeds after his death.

During the Roman times, the importance of Troy was further strengthened by its recognition as the mother city of the Romans. They believe that they were the descendants of the Trojan hero, Aeneas, who fled the city after its fall, and after many adventures settled in Latium. He was known as the ancestor of Romulus and Remus, the founder of Rome.

Aeneas was the hero of the Trojan War, born to the prince of Darnadania called Anchises and the goddess Aphrodite. Priam, the king of Troy, was his uncle and Aeneas became the leader of the Trojans' Dardanian allies. Aeneas' mother Aphrodite frequently came to his aid on the battlefield; he was also a favourite of Apollo. Even Poseidon, who usually favoured the Greeks, hurried to Aeneas's rescue after he fell under the assault of Achilles. Such mighty support from the gods signalled as-yet-unknown destiny of the honourable warrior.

Aeneas was one of the few Trojans who were not killed or enslaved when their city fell. Instead, he was commanded by the gods to flee and gathered a group of his closest associates and family, including his father Anchises and his son Ascanius. The group travelled for a long time, visiting Thrace, Delos, Crete, and Carthage on their way, to finally reach Italy. Latinus, king of the Latins, welcomed Aeneas's group and let them stay in his domain. He even offered him his daughter, Lavinia, as the wife.

Emperor Hadrian was one of the most prominent tourists who visited Troy in Roman times. He arrived in 124 CE, searching for the reminders of the myths and legends. During his stay, this emperor, known to be enamoured with Greek culture, restored the Tomb of Ajax and composed an epigram for the Tomb of Hector. He even possibly presented this poem in the city’s odeon.

Hadrian's visits to the tombs of the Greek and Trojan heroes were to demonstrate that he honoured both sides of the Trojan War as their territories were then parts of the Roman Empire. Hadrian also initiated the renovation of the odeon, adding the decorative stage building. The most important material evidence of the emperor’s visit is his larger-than-life cuirassed statue, discovered in the odeon in 1993. It is now on display in the Trojan Museum, accompanied by the sculpted head of Augustus, also found in the odeon.

Visitor tips: 

Walk from the Water Cave of Wilusa following the same path back to the Lower City of Troy. In this location, get back on the main sightseeing trail, and follow it to the east. After around 130 meters, you will get to the odeon of Troy. Beyond this small theatre, you can see the walls of Troy VI and the single column of the Pillar-House from the same time.

If you turn around, on the other side of the path, you can glimpse the scant remains of the Roman-period baths. The bouleuterion, i.e. the council chamber of the city, is situated some 60 meters to the east. The bouleuterion was a place of political gatherings and this building in Troy, originating from the time of Augustus, still has a podium and the first row of marble seats. All these buildings are located on the fringes of the central square of the city's public life called the agora.

The odeon is the last point of the Troy Tour so afterwards follow the sightseeing path in the easterly direction. It will take you to the exit - after walking for 110 meters, you will get back to the square with the Eternal Stone of Troy. From this point you walk next to the Pithos Garden and the replica of the Trojan Horse, reaching the exit after 100 meters.