During my two-week tour around Turkey with G-Adventures, our final night’s stay was in Canakkale. Canakkale is a seaport on the southern coast of the Dardanelles with a population of nearly 200,000. It is a good base for those wishing to visit Troy and Gallipoli.
Where to Stay in Canakkale
When in Canakkale, stay at the Bogaz Hotel. The reception is friendly and speaks English. The rooms are clean, the Turkish breakfast buffet is reasonable, the internet worked, and it is only a short walk to the pier. All nice qualities for a low price. Book at Hotels.com
Stroll Along the Harbor
Definitely walk to the pier and stroll along the harbor. The breeze coming off the Dardanelles is lovely. And of course it is always fun to look at the different boats. Boats express so much of the surrounding culture.
Snap a Photo with the Trojan Horse
Also, along the boardwalk is the Trojan Horse used in the movie Troy starring Brad Pitt. The horse was donated to Canakkale after the filming was completed.
The “wooden” horse is enormous! It is actually made of iron struts and fiber glass. The horse stands 11.4 meters high and weighs 11 tons. It is a major tourist attraction in the city, and our guide said it is more realistic than the one at Troy which includes windows for photo snapping tourists to climb inside.
Meet at the Clock Tower
The clock tower in Canakkale was constructed in 1897 and was paid for by Emile Vitalis. The Italian honorary consul left 10,000 gold francs in his will for the project. The five-story tower, with a clock on each side and a fountain beneath it, is located in a charming pedestrian area surrounded by shops and restaurants. Meet at the clock before a nice evening on the town.
Ride the Ferry to Kilitbahir
There are a few different ferries which cross the Dardanelles, but one lands in Kilitbahir. The dock is just a ten-minute walk to the Kilitbahir Castle, which was recently renovated. The Castle was built by Mehmet the Conquerer in 1452. Located at the narrowest part of the Dardanelles, the castle with its thick walls and seven-story tower, protected Constantinople, now Istanbul.
Take a Side Trip
As I mentioned previously, Canakkale is the best hub for trips to Troy and Gallipoli. Troy was made famous in Homer’s Illiad which covers the last two months of the 10 year Trojan War. The Greeks pretend to leave, but hide soldiers in a horse. In the night, they exited, burned the town and slaughtered its residents.
While some considered this story make believe, excavations discovered that Troy was destroyed many times. There are remnants of nine cities built on top of one another. This ancient city is now a national park and UNSECO World Heritage Site.
Unfortunately due to COVID at the end of March, our trip to Troy got cancelled, but we did see the model by the horse in Canakkale. Amazingly, over our two-week tour to Istanbul, Cappadocia, Konya, Antalya, Kekova, Selcuk, Pamukkale, and Ayvalik, COVID only affected our visit to Troy. We still able to visit Gallipoli, which I knew nothing about.
Honor the Fallen at Gallipoli
Having said that, the two Australians on our tour knew all about Gallipoli, and it was very important to them to visit this war memorial. As a result, te visit was much more interesting to me as well.
The Dardanelles and Gallipoli Peninsula was under the Ottoman control for years and mostly unchallenged until WWI. In 1915, Allied forces determined that control of the Dardanelles was necessary for shipping routes to remain open between Russia, France and Britain.
The Allies launched two failed attacks on the Turks. First a Franco-British fleet was defeated in March of 1915. About a month later, British, Australian, New Zealand and Indian troops landed on the peninsula to fight. Over the ensuing nine months, the Turks defended Gallipoli. Some 45,000 Allies were killed in the loss as well as 86,000 Turkish.
Gallipoli was the site of an extremely bloody battle which now draws millions of visitors who pay their respects. The National Park is divided into two section: The Northern Peninsula where the Australian and New Zealand troops landed and the Southern Peninsula where Australian and British troops landed.
There are all sorts of memorials and cemeteries honoring the fallen of different countries spread along the Peninsula. There is also a memorial honoring Ataturk (Mustafa Kemal), the Turkish general and later ruler of Turkey. He is known for the famous order, “I am not ordering you to attack. I’m ordering you to die. In the time it takes us to die, other troops and commanders will arrive to take our places.”
The 57th Infantry Regiment held the line, was wiped out in the process, and the Turks ultimately won the battle, though not the war.
While I mentioned the Ataturk memorial due to the unfathomable order in my eyes, I was awed by the remarkable memorials for foreign countries on Turkish soil. What a sobering experience!
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