The ancient city of Parion or Parium is located off the E90 from Lapseki to Biga. Just follow the signs for Kemer or Parion which is about 14km away. There is no service station along this route or in Kemer village and there are no hotels or guest houses here. Although not exactly off the beaten track the ruins are spread about a bit so you might want to bring your walking boots.
The city was probably founded around 3000 years ago by a colony of settlers from Eretria and island of Paros. The city would have had defensive towers and temples. It would have been a large city and an important harbour and the remains of the impressive walls and aqueduct can be seen on the outskirts of Kemer village before you get anywhere near the main site.
During the Hellenistic period it would have come under the control of Lysimachus, an important follower of Alexander the Great. It them became part of the Pergamon Kingdom before being handed over to the Romans in 133 BC.
Parion minted its own coins and there would have been a powerful and influential Christian community here before 180 AD. During the Byantine period it gained the status of a metropolis but in Ottoman times it lay in ruins in the village of Kamares, inhabited mainly by Greeks before the great population exchange and the changing of the name of the village to Kemer koyu.
Work has been carried out at Parion for many years. It’s location is no secret and it was known to Osman Hamdi Bey, the Ottoman administrator and accomplished archaeologist who found a sarccophagus here and had it moved to the Archaelogical museum in Istanbul. The site was excavated by Professor Cevat Basaran who started excavations here in 2005. Leading the excavations at Parion it is now under the expertise of Vedat Keles from the 19thMay University’s archaelogy department.
The excavations at Parion continue and so far the most important finds have been the tombs and sarcophagi from the Parion necropolis. One of the sarcophagus which was unearthed in 2009 is 2200 years old. Gold coins and the figure of a sun God was also discovered along with around 220 graves where people were buried with their belongings and gifts. Many graves have unfortunately been dug up by treasure seekers over the years but intact examples have been found.
The site at Parion has a theatre, an odeon and baths and there are excavations continuing at several locations on the hillside overlooking the ancient city. In 2011 a marble block was found with an inscription in the Phrygian language. It is therefore likely that Parion was on the outer limits of the borders of the Phrygian civilisation.
Parion and its excavations are very much in their infancy with new and interesting finds being discovered all the time. Many of the items that have been found can be seen at the Archaelogical Museum in Canakkale and the Troy Museum near Troy.
This was once a grand city of significant importance that might even rival Ephesus but it will be many years before the full extent and grandeur of the city can be realised in full. Today you can still see what has been unearthed but this is very much a working site so there are no tourist facilities or gift shops here.
A 2,700 year old well has also been discovered at Parion. One of nine ancient wells in Turkey it still provides drinking water attributed to having special healing and beauty properties and which still contains water.
If you find yourself anywhere near Lapseki or Biga then try and make time to visit Parion. The village of Kemer with its little harbour and quaint back streets is also interesting.