The undisputed hub of the region, Canakkale (pron: Chanakale) is replete with mythological associations. It was from the ancient town of Abydos immediately north that Leander swam across the Hellespont every night to see his love Hero; and it was in the Dardanelles that Helle, the daughter of Athamas and Nephele, was drowned here in the legend of the Golden Fleece, giving the waterway its ancient name. Close by and still existing are the remnants of ancient Troy, which Homer wrote about in his epic poem the Iliad.
The province of Canakkale lies on both sides of the Dardanelles which connects the Sea of Marmara to the Aegean Sea. Its shores touch both Europe (with the Gelibolu Peninsula) and Asia (with the Biga Peninsula) and there are regular ferries between the two sides.
Canakkale is the finishing point every year for an organised swim across the Hellespont from Eceabat. This event emulates the swim in 1810 by Lord Byron, who was himself emulating the legendary swim by Leander in the story of Hero and Leander.
The Greek Byzantine name for Canakkale was Dardanellia, from which the English name Dardanelles is derived.
Canakkale was an Ottoman fortress called Kale-i Sultaniye or Sultaniye kalesi (Fortress of the Sultan). It later became known for its pottery, hence the later name Çanak kalesi “pot fortress”.
The first inhabitants of the city, which hosted many civilizations, lived on the Biga Peninsula in the Last Chalcolithic Age c. 6000 years ago. However, very little is known about the identity and lifestyle of these early settlers. According to some excavations and research, the earliest settlements in the region were established at Kumtepe. It is supposed that Kumkale was established in 4000 BC and Troy between 3500–3000 BC. The real history of Canakkale started with Troy.
Later the Aeolian Greeks settled on that important land in the 8th century BC and established many trade colonies in the region called Aeolis. The region came under the control of the Lydians in the 7th century BC and under the control of the Persians in the 6th century BC. Aeolis went under the control of the Ancient Macedonian army as Alexander the Great defeated the Persians by the Granicus River of the region in the Battle of the Granicus on his way to Asia. The region came under the reign of the Kingdom of Pergamum in the 2nd century BC.
The western part of the Biga Peninsula where ancient Troy is situated was called Troas. Alexandria Troas, an important settlement of the region, was a free trade port and a rich trade centre during Roman times. Later in the 2nd century AD, the region was attacked by Goths from Thrace. During the 7th and 8th centuries, in order to attack Istanbul the Arabs passed the strait a few times and came up to Sestos. At the beginning of the 14th century the Karasids dominated the Anatolian part of the strait. During the first half of that century Demirhan Bey from Karasids attempted to dominate the region. The Ottomans gained control of Gallipoli in 1367.
In 1915, during the World War I, the British Empire and France attempted to capture the Ottoman capital of Istanbul and secure a sea route to Russia. Known as The Gallipoli Campaign, or the Dardanelles Campaign, in Turkey it is referred to as the Battle of Canakkale, during March 2015 when the Royal Navy and their allies failed to force the Dardanelles and suffered severe losses.
The campaign was one of the greatest Ottoman victories during the war. In Turkey, it is regarded as a defining moment in the nation's history: a final surge in the defence of the motherland as the Ottoman Empire crumbled. The struggle formed the basis for the Turkish War of Independence and the declaration of the Republic of Turkey eight years later under Mustafa Kemal (Kemal Atatürk) who first rose to prominence as a commander at Gallipoli.
The campaign is often considered as marking the birth of national consciousness in Australia and New Zealand and the date of the landing, 25 April, is known as Anzac Day which is the most significant commemoration of military casualties and veterans in those two countries.
Main Historical Sites
Canakkale is one of our country’s most important cultural & tourism centres, with the hospitality of the local people, unspoiled nature, unique buildings, ancient cities, historical walls, cemeteries of those who fell in the war, examples of civil architecture, its clean shores & beaches that have been awarded the Blue Flag, enchanting islands, thermal spas, mild climate, rich range of agricultural products, local dishes, a wide range of fresh & very varied fish, handcrafts & artists. Canakkale reveals a different beauty for all seasons, with the geography of the sea passing through it, the fertility of its lands, & the glamour of its history. It is an ancient, natural & modern province.
The Clock Tower. One street back from the wharf there is a clock tower that is one of the symbols of the city. It was built in 1897 by Emili Vitali, an Italian tradesman & honorary consul of the time. There is a clock on each of the four sides of the tower, which was built from the local Ayvalik stone. The square shaped tower narrows slightly as it rises. The public fountain beneath it was built in 1889 by a wealthy Jewish resident of the town called Halyo.
Old Canakkale. The two streets either side of the tower lead into the older districts of the city. Most of the old houses on these very narrow streets are either used as shops or cafes. There are small “hans” in the marketplace. Once upon a time the famed Muriel Bazaar (Aynali Carsi or Mirror Bazaar) was in this region. The Muriel Bazaar, which was made famous in a well-known song about Gallipoli Campaign, was built by Ilia Halyo in 1889 during the reign of Sultan Abdülhamit and was a replica of the famed Egyptian Bazaar in Istanbul. According to some accounts it was destroyed by shells from the British battleship “Queen Elizabeth”, which were fired at the defences around Canakkale. The bazaar remained in ruins for some time after the war and later 14 shops that were not in keeping with the former styles were erected.
Gallipoli Peninsular & WW I Battlefields Grounds.
Gallipoli (Turkish: Gelibolu) is a peninsula in north-western of Turkey, close to the Dardanelles Strait and is a site of extensive World War I battlefields memorials. It is a commemorative site for the Allied (British Empire, France) and Turkish forces that fought and died here during the Gallipoli Campaign, also known as the Battle of the Dardanelles. It was one of the costliest for both sides with casualties and losses amount to 220,000 with a 59% casualty rate for the Allied forces and 253,000 with a 60% casualty rate for the Turkish forces.
The Gallipoli peninsula is one of the most sacred sites for the Turkish nation, with many monuments such as the Monument of Martyrs erected in the honour of the Turkish soldiers who died in the Battle of the Dardanelles against the Allied forces, whose defeat staved off a potential invasion of Turkey. The victory over the Allies is celebrated on 18th of March as Canakkale Zaferi (Canakkale Victory), every year, with tens of thousands of Turks attending the events on the battlefields and memorials.
The area around Anzac Cove is particularly significant for Australians and New Zealanders, whose armies received their baptism in fire on the cliffs there and carved a fine military reputation under extreme adversity and enormous loss of life; this military disaster marked the beginning of a separate Australian and New Zealand nationhood. The 1915 landings and battles are commemorated by Australians and New Zealanders on ANZAC Day, 25 April, every year. Grossly at this time, Gallipoli becomes a place of pilgrimage for many Aussies and Kiwis who want to honour the memory of their forbears.
In total there are 31 Commonwealth War Graves Commission cemeteries containing mainly dead from Britain, Australia, New Zealand, India and Newfoundland, 1 French cemetery and over 50 memorials, grave sites and cemeteries dedicated to the Turkish casualties.
There is only one solitary marked Allied grave outside of a cemetery on the peninsula resulting from the campaign, that of Lieutenant Colonel Charles Doughty-Wylie. He was buried close to where he was killed during the capture of Seddülbahir on the morning of April 26, 1915.
The Site of Ancient Troy. Troy (Turkish: Truva or Troya) is an ancient city in what is now north-western Turkey, made famous in Homer’s epic poem, the Iliad. According to Iliad, this is where the legendary Trojan War took place. Today it is an archaeological site and it is on the World Heritage List of UNESCO.
The first city on the site of Troy was Wilusa, founded in the 3rd millennium BC by the Hittites, who were the first indigenous Anatolian people to rise to form a state during the Bronze Age. Situated over the Hisarlık Hill on the north-western tip of Troad Peninsula, it was clear that the reason for the city's existence in the first place was a total control of Dardanelles, which, along with the Sea of Marmara and the Bosphorus, is today known as the Turkish Straits, a key route connecting Mediterranean with the Black Sea, as well as being where European and Asian landmasses are almost just a stone's throw away from each other.
The abduction of Helen, the spouse of the king of Sparta, by Paris, a Trojan prince, sparked enmity between the Trojans and Achaeans from across the Aegean Sea, or so says the legend. Having been unable to break into the defensive walls of the city, Achaeans decided to set up a trick—they offered a huge wooden horse as a gift to Trojans, as an amend for the bother they caused with their war galleys on the city's beach. Trojans accepted the offer sincerely, but this resulted in them losing their city, as inside of the horse was full of Achaean soldiers, ready to combat, and now right in the centre of the city.
For all its actuality, there was a Trojan War, which possibly took place in the 13th or 12th centuries BC, and it was around this time Hittite Wilusa was converted to Hellenic Illion, and later Troia. However, for some reason, all later invaders from all directions, with the notable exception of Alexander the Great (who founded the city of Alexandria Troas on the coast south of Troy), favoured Bosphorus to northeast instead of Dardanelles for their intercontinental crossings. The Roman emperor Constantine I (r. 306-337) did as well, founding a new capital for his empire, Constantinople, on the banks of Bosphorus.
Since the days of Byzantine Empire, Troy was thought to be nothing but Homer's pure imagination, but in 1868, Heinrich Schliemann, a German businessman and a self-proclaimed archaeologist, proved otherwise, after taking the hint that Troy might be a real place buried under the Hisarlık Hill from Frank Calvert, a British archaeologist who visited the site three years earlier.
Schliemann's excavations damaged the integrity of much of the remains. Although almost a century and a half passed since the days of Schliemann, Troy still hasn't been unearthed completely yet, and the excavation works still continue to this day.
The authenticity of the archaeological site is high, since there have been very few reconstruction. Those that have taken place on the defences have been carried out in strict accordance with the principles of anastylosis. The authenticity of the surrounding landscape is also high, and represents an organic development from prehistory to the present century.
Alexandria Troas (Alexandria of the Troad) is the site of an ancient Greek city situated on the Aegean Sea near the northern tip of Turkey's western coast, a little south of Tenedos (modern Bozcaada Island), 30 km south of the site of Troy and 2 km south of Dalyan Village.
The site sprawls over an estimated 400 hectares; excavated since 2000 by archaeologists from the University of Münster. Among the few structures remaining today are a ruined bath, an Odeon, a theatre, gymnasium complex and a recently uncovered stadium. The circuit of the old walls can still be traced. A sacred way linked it to Smintheion, while another avenue served the ancient harbour at Dalyan.
According to Strabo, this site was first called Sigeia; around 306 BC Antigonus re-founded the city as the much-expanded Antigonia Troas by settling the people of five other towns in Sigeia, including the once influential city of Neandreia. Its name was changed by Lysimachus to Alexandria Troas in 301 BC after Alexander III of Macedon. As the chief port of north-west Asia Minor, the place prospered greatly in Roman times, becoming a free and autonomous city as early as 188 BC, and the existing remains sufficiently attest its former importance. In its heyday the city may have had a population of about 100,000. Augustus, Hadrian and the rich grammarian Herodes Atticus contributed greatly to its embellishment; the aqueduct still preserved is due to the latter. Constantine considered making Troas the capital of the Roman Empire.
In Roman times, it was a significant port for travelling between Anatolia and Europe. Alexandria Troas is an important site for the history of Christianity; it was mentioned several times in the Bible. In the 1st century AD Saint Paul passed some time in Troas during his second missionary journey where he had a vision of a man calling him to Macedonia to help them (Acts 16.9), so he sailed to Europe (Acts, 16:8 - 11) where he first preached. Also, in Troas Luke joined Paul and they continued their mission. On his third missionary journey Saint Paul had a long preach during which Eutychus fell down from the third floor of the building (Acts 20:6 - 10). There are other biblical references to Troas in 2 Cor 2:12 and 2 Tim 4:13. Alexandria Troas remains a titular see of the Roman Catholic Church.
Karasid Turkomans settled in the area of the Troad in the 14th century. Their beylik was conquered by the Ottomans in 1336. The ruins of Alexandria Troas came to be known among the Turks as Eski Stambul, the Old City. The site's stones were much plundered for building material (for example Mehmed IV took columns to adorn his Yeni Valide Mosque in Istanbul). As of the mid-18th century the site served as a lurking place for banditti.
By 1911, the site had been overgrown with vallonea oaks and much plundered, but the circuit of the old walls could still be traced, and in several places they were fairly well preserved. They had a circumference of about ten kilometres, and were fortified with towers at regular intervals. Remains of an ancient bath and gymnasium complex can be found within this area; this building is locally known as Bal Saray (Honey Palace) and was originally endowed by Herodes Atticus in the year 135. Trajan built an aqueduct which can still be traced. The harbour had two large basins, now almost choked with sand. It is the subject of an early 21st century study by German archaeologists digging and surveying at the site. Their excavation uncovered the remains of a large stadium dating to about 100 BC.
Bozcaada Island. Bozcaada is an island in the Aegean Sea. Bozcaada district covers the Bozcaada Island and a total of 17 islets around the main island. The total area of the district (including the islets) is 36.7 sq. km.
In the antiquity the island was known as Leukophrys and in Greek mythology it was Tenedos. It was mentioned in Homer's Iliad. In the medieval age it was a Byzantine possession. Towards the end of the medieval age it was left to Republic of Venice by the emperor John V Palaiologos as a ransom. In 1381 however, following Venetian Genoese War it was evacuated by the Venetians according to the Peace of Turin. In 1455 it was annexed by the Ottoman Empire during the reign of Mehmet II. Although the Venetians tried to regain the island, in 1464 the Ottoman control was secured by Mahmut Pasha, the Ottoman admiral. As a result of the former evacuation, the island was uninhabited during the early years of Ottoman administration and the Ottoman Empire populated the present Bozcaada district by using tax exemption. Ottoman Empire also restored the castle which was demolished during the Venetian-Genoese war.
Turks called the island Bozcaada meaning “Greyish Island” and the famous cartographer Piri Reis of the 16th century also used this name in his maps. In 1923 when the Turkish Republic was proclaimed, the island was declared a district and the only settlement in Bozcaada became the municipality and district centre of Canakkale Province.
Historical Sites on Bozcaada
Bozcaada Castle which was reconstructed by the Ottoman sultan Mehmet II in the 15th century, and repaired by the Ottoman sultan Mahmut II in 1815 is the most important touristic attraction of Bozcaada. It is in the district centre facing east. Thus visitors to Bozcaada can observe the castle during their voyage.
Yenikale (New Castle). Despite its name it is in ruins. It was constructed in 1827 by Hafız Ali Pasha, the governor of Bozcaada. It is situated on a hill to the west of Bozacaada district centre
Alaybey Mosque was probably built in 1700 by Ahmet Ağa, the governor of Bozcaada. It is partially in ruins.
Yalı Mosque is a mosque which was built on the foundations of a medieval Venetian building in 1655. It was commissioned by Köprülü Mehmet Pasha (future grand vizier) in 1655. It is now under restoration.
Namazgah Fountain (with cistern) was built in 1703.
Kimisis Teodoku (St Mary) church was built in 1869. The church which belongs to the Greek Orthodox Community is the only church opened to worship. The church, which other name is Teodoku Eastern Orthodox Church and on the door of which its construction date is written as 1869, is thought to be left from Venetians. The bell tower in the yard was built in 1865 with four floor and 23.8 m height and was restored in 2007. The only opportunity to see the inside of the church is the mass of Sunday morning at 8 am. The church is closed in other times.
Ayazma Monastery. The word Ayazma, from the Greek hagiasme, means sacred water. In many parts of Turkey this name is given to the places of natural water sources. The ayazma of Bozcaada is on the south part of the island. There is an historical bisulcate fountain, 8 old plane trees, a small church and two single-floored buildings. The monastery, belonging to the Greek Orthodox Community, was built in the name of the Greek saint Aya Paraskevi. The monastery, built in 1734 by Manolaki Manolidis, is open to worship only in special occasions. A legend says that who once drinks water from the fountain becomes an islander. The magical atmosphere of Ayazma makes the place perfect for the special celebrations like weddings.