With the ancient city of Troy a mere 30 kms away, tourists often treat Canakkale as the pit-stop for a day tour before venturing further.
Luckily, my stay was sponsored by a European youth project that brought together 19 participants from Italy, Romania, Bulgaria, Georgia, Armenia, Greece, Malta, Lithuania, Slovakia and Turkey. Thanks to this project I had the amazing opportunity to stay in this interesting city for a week and have a wonderful time.
From street-vendors selling mussels to upscale fish cuisine outlets, there are many choices. Exert moderation however, as Turkish cuisines are generous with hot red pepper flakes, paprika, yenibahar (allspice) and cumin. Else, with all that walking and the spices, next morning might be tricky!
A little walk further down brings you to the refurbished Egyptian Bazaar. The original one was shelled down by British Battleship HMS Queen Elizabeth during the First World War.
Along the seaside are many bars to have a drink. Beach
Cimenlik Fortress has been preserved as a military museum. With relics, static displays and shows related to the Gallipoli campaign, it preserves the rich naval history of the region.
As the World War I battleground for British and ANZAC forces, fighting for control of the straits with Germany, Gallipoli saw millions of bullets fly in a bloodbath which lasted eight months. Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of modern Turkish Republic, repelled the Allies but not before nearly 100,000 troops from both sides became casualties. Tourists often still find some bullets scattered on the ground between trenches, some of them only 10 feet apart! Besides being of great emotional significance to local Turkish people, Australians and New Zealanders routinely flock the region on April 25 (ANZAC day). The number of cemeteries and war memorials in Gallipoli makes you wonder about such futile wars. The Naval Museum hosts several cannons and a replica of the Nasrat mine layer. Nasrat was vital to the victory in Gallipoli campaign. Legend has it that Winston Churchill had a massive combined attack planned at the straits. But the Ottoman forces got a whiff of it and used Nasrat to plant mines all along the straits. British battle shipsHMS Irresistible, HMS Inflexible and HMS Ocean and the French battleship, the Bouvet, were among the several battleships which were stricken or badly damaged. This effectively halted any further attempts of Allies sending battleships to enter the straits. Art
Troy For centuries, the world believed Homer’s Iliad was a wonderful myth, a story about Trojan wars and sieges. In 1863 British sailor and explorer Frank Calvert discovered the ancient ruins at Hisarlik, which he believed to be Troy. I think he was just another sailor looking for a mermaid (or Helen of Troy!) German archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann, followed five years later with more money and men, and uncovered a string of cities dating from Bronze Age to the Roman period. He declared one of these cities—at first Troy I, later Troy II—to be the city of Troy, a widely accepted view at the time. Schliemann also dug out a collection of golden earrings, necklaces, pots of silver and gold and other items, including two ornately crafted gold diadems, collectively known as Priam’s treasure.
While Schliemann claimed the diadems belonged to Helen of Troy, later discoveries refuted it, placing Priam as the king of Troy VI or VII, several hundred years after Troy II. Like Helen herself, the treasure was smuggled by Schliemann and later donated to Berlin Museum in 1880. After World War II it was again smuggled, this time by Russian soldiers to Pushkin Museum, Moscow.
Archeological mysteries remain. Further investigation has revealed that the people who built Troy I and the people who inhabited during the Trojan wars are culturally and ethnically different. Further, the legend of a ten-year war with Greeks over the kidnapping of their queen Helen seems a little too far-fetched. Most of all, the final act of smuggling soldiers inside the wooden ‘Trojan Horse’ to win the war also seems fanciful. However, recent discovery of wooden structure remnants dated back to the era of Trojan wars have opened up new possibilities.
Photo credits: moco-choco and Adriano