The Strait of the Dardanelles, named by the Turks
Çanakkale Bogazi after the city of Çanakkale,
is 61 km/38 miles long and stretches between the
Marmara Sea and the Aegean Sea. Its width varies
between 1,2 km/0.75 miles and 6 km/4 miles.
a gateway to the Bosphorus and the Black Sea and
to the Aegean and Mediteranean Seas, throughout
history, the Strait of the Dardanelles, which also
controls the crossing between Europe and Asia, has
always been a highly strategic area subjected to
The Strait of the Dardanelles is the ancient Hellespont
(or Hellespontus) crossed in the 5C BC by the Persian
King Xerxes who built
a ship pontoon bridge on his failed punishment expedition
against the Greeks which ended in the disasters
of Salamis and Platea. Alexander
the Great and his army also crossed the Hellespont
in the spring of 334 BC at the beginning of campains
towards the East.
The Hellespont got its name from the following legend:
Ino, the new wife of King Athamas, jealous of the
king's children Phrixus and Helle, wanted to get
rid of them. Their mother Nephele sought help from
the god Hermes who sent a winged ram with a golden
fleece to take the children to a safer place. While
they were flying over the strait, Pincess Helle
fell off the ram and drowned in these waters. But
Phrixus reached the land of Colchis where he sacrificed
the ram to Zeus and gave the Golden Fleece to king
Aeetes who placed it in an oak tree in a sacred
grove. It was guarded by a dragon that never slept.
This was the Golden Fleece sought by Jason and the
Another legend related to the strait is that of
the two secret lovers Hero, a priestess of Aphrodite
and Leander, a handsome youth. Guided by the lamp
which his mistress lit at the top of the tower where
she lived, every night Leander swam across the Hellespont
from Abydus to Sestus. When winter came, he was
caught in a terrible storm which blew out the light
in Hero's tower, and Leander, being left in the
dark without landmarks, lost his way and perished.
When Hero saw his dead body borne by the waves to
the foot of the tower, in her despair, she cast
herself down into the sea.
In 1810, when he was 22 years old , the English
poet Lord Byron swam across the strait, imitating
name Dardanelles derives from Dardanos, son of Zeus
and the Pleiad Electra daughter of the Titan Atlas
and Pleione, founder and king of the city of Dardania
located in the foothills of Mount
Ida on the Asian shore of the strait. From Dardanus'
grandson Tros, the people gained the additional
name of Trojans and the region gained the additional
name Troad. Tros' son Ilus subsequently founded
a further city called Ilion (or Ilium) more commonly
called Troy and the kingdom
was split between Ilium and Dardania.
the 2nd century BC the area became part of the Roman
Empire and subsequently in the 4th century AD
to the Byzantine
Empire which had to repel the assaults of the
Arabs and Crusaders. The
Karasiogullari, a Turkish tribe, came into the area
in the 14 th century and made Balikesir their capital.
In the 15th century, Sultan Mehmet
the Conqueror built a fortress on both banks
of the strait and founded the city of Canakkale.
The Gallipoli (Gelibolu) Campain of 1915-1916
was an Allied fleet attempt against the Turks: their
objectives were, by capturing Istanbul, to force
Turkey out of the war, to secure a sea supply to
Russia and to open another front against Germany
and Austria-Hungary. The unsuccessful campain, which
started in February/March 1915, was first an attempt
by battleships to force the Dardanelles followed
by successive landings and offensives on Cape Helles
and Anzac Beaches (Ariburnu) after the Allied Powers
had realized that the waters had been completely
mined. Their withdrawal took place on December 19/20th,
1915 and January 8/9th, 1916. During this war Mustafa
Kemal was promoted colonel and appointed to
command the 16th Army Corps.
In order to honor the Turkish and foreign soldiers
who lost their lives on the Gallipoli Peninsula,
the place has become a national park and acts as
an open air museum open to all visitors.
The visit of the Gallipoli Peninsula (Gelibolu
Yarimadasi) include the battlefields and the trenches,
the War Museum, the Memorial Arch
and the cemeteries which remind us of the
253,000 Turkish, 200,000 English, 48,000 French,
20,000 Australian and 10,000 New Zealander (ANZAC),
and 6,000 Indian soldiers who died there during
On 25th April 1915, the Australia and New Zealand
Army Corps landed on ANZAC Cove at Gallipolli. Every
year on April 25th, ANZAC Day has become an international
day of commemoration attended by large numbers of
foreigners and Turks to pay respect to the fallen
heroes that shed their blood and lost their lives...
You are now lying in the soil of a friendly country,
therefore rest in peace.
There is no difference between the Johnnies and
the Mehmets to us where they lie side by side, here
in this country of ours...
You, the mothers who sent their sons from far away
countries, wipe away your tears.
Your sons are now lying in our bosom and are in
After having lost their lives on this land, they
have become our sons as well."
MUSTAFA KEMAL ATATURK - 1934
The Strait of the Dardanelles
The Memorial Arch
Mustafa Kemal Atatürk and his soldiers in the trenches
lies on the Asian side and the narrowest
section (1,200 m/ 0,75miles) of the Strait of the
Dardanelles. In 1451, Sultan Mehmet II built one
fortress on the European side of the strait at Kilitbahir
and another one "Çanak fortress"
(Çanak kale) on the opposite shore at Çimenlik
to control the passage of ships through the strait.
Today the Çimenlik fortress is a military
museum in memory of the Çanakkale Battles.
It displays a replica of the ship "Nusrat"
which was used to lay mines in the strait during
the 1915 war. Inside the ship are newspaper headlines
from that time. The museum also displays pictures
of Atatürk, as well as weapons. The old arsenal
houses a section dedicated to Piri
Reis (1465/1470-1554), a Turkish hero of the
Ottoman navy who was born in Gelibolu; and to the
famous historian, janissary
and miniaturist Matrakçi
Nasuh who was born in Bosnia towards the end
of the 15th century of a Christian family.
At the end of the 17th century, the declining
Ottoman ceramic art was revived by innovative
pottery manufactured in Çanakkale.
These ceramics were known as Çanakkale
pottery (Turkish word "çanak"
means pot, and "kale" fortress).
continued in Çanakkale until the beginning
of the 20th century. The Çinili
Kösk Museum in Istanbul has a large
collection of Çanakkale pottery.
Archaeological Museum displays
Çanakkale ceramics, finds from Troy,
Dardanos Tumulus, Tenedos, Assos
and the Temple of Apollon Smintheion (see
1915 Naval Victory Celebration takes place
every year in Çanakkale on March 18th, and
the Troy Festival between August 10 and 14.
way to cross the strait is to take one of
and car ferries that run daily between Çanakkale
and Eceabat/Kilitbahir, or between Lapseki
The wooden horse, from the 2004 film Troy,
is displayed on the seafront in Çanakkale
Çanakkale - Crossisng the Strait of the Dardanelles
Sunset on the Strait
Gelibolu - Tomb of Standard bearer Bayraklibaba karacabey killed in action during a naval battle in 1410.
People come here to make a vow.
Gelibolu - The strait opening on the Marmara Sea
First open-air mosque built in 1407
for the soldiers going off to war
Island, Turkey's largest island lying off the
coast of the Gallipoli Peninsula, can be reach by
regular ferries either from Çanakkale or
Kabatepe on the Gallipoli Peninsula. Gökçeada
(Imroz) is ringed with pristine bays. Its hills,
covered in the contrasting greens of pines and olive
trees are dotted with springs and monasteries.
Gökçeada has a long history of multiculturalism,
with the island changing hands between Turkish and
Greek control many times over the centuries. Gökçeada
still has a small population of Greek residents
of Turkish nationality and the Greek Orthodox patriarch
Bartholomew was born on the island. Gökçeada
stages its annual summer festival between August
10 and 13.
Bozcaada Island is located to the south of the Strait of the
Dardanelles about 5 km/ 3 miles away from
the mainland. When approaching the island
by ferry (from Geyikli, the journey to the
island takes half an hour), the charming whitewashed
houses, the narrow, shady streets adorned
with flowers and the many restaurants, tavernas
and cafes lined around the scenic harbour
at the foot of the well preserved fortress
come into sight.
Due to its strategic position close to the
mouth of the Dardanelles, the island was occupied
by the Greeks, the Persians, the Romans...
The fortress, which has very old origins,
was built on the northeastern cape of the
island. It was inhabited by the Byzantines,
the Venetians and the Geneose. After the island
was conquered by the Ottomans in the 15th
century, the latter rebuilt a larger fortress.
Tenedos, the former name of Bozcaada, is derived
from Tenes, the name of the son of Kyknos,
the King of Kolonoi in the Troad. After the
death of his wife, the king married again
but the wicked stepmother, failing to seduce
Tenes, accused him of rape. Kyknos, to get
rid of his guilty son, put him out to sea
in a locked chest that ran aground on Leukophrys
Island. The inhabitants saved Tenes and made
him their king, changing the name of the island
into Tenedos. King Kyknos subsequently discovered
the truth, put his wife and her false witness
accomplice flute-player to death and got reconciled
with his son. Eventually, they were both killed
by Achilles. According
to Homer's account of the Trojan War in the
Iliad, the Greek fleet was anchored at "Tenedos",
describing it as a strategic island opposite
The first impression of yellow-brown color
and barren land given by the island is reflected
by the word "boz" in its Turkish
name. However the scenery rapidly turns green:
as you go inland, the vineyards are everywhere.
Since Antiquity Bozcaada has been famous for
its vines and today it is a major wine producing
center. Bozcaada is also gaining popularity
as a tourist destination offering sandy beaches
and coves such as Ayazma, Sulubahce, and Habbeli.
This tiny island is a small heaven on earth
where wine, seafood and fish are plentiful.
Every year in
early September the Vintage Festival is held
in Bozcaada. Between July 26 and 28, on the
occasion of the Ayazma Festival, thousands
of Greeks come to the island.
Bozcaada can been seen from the Turkish mainland
Approaching the island by ferry
Winery in the village center
Old house decorated door
Electricity is supplied by wind turbines
erected at the northwestern tip of the
island, near the old lighthouse
or Alexandria of the Troad was founded under
the name Antigoneia in 310 BC by Antigonos,
one of Alexander
the Great's generals. After the death
of the latter, the king of Thrace Lysimachos
renamed it Alexandria Troas in memory of the
Great King. The place was an important port
city surrounded by a 8 km/ 5 miles long wall
fortified with towers at regular intervals.
In the 1st century BC, Roman Emperor Augustus
changed its name into Colonia Augusta Troadensis.
Like the emperors Augustus and Hadrian, the
Athenian sophist and rich public benefactor
Herodes Atticus contributed greatly to the
embellishment of the city. Alexandria Troas
is the place where Paul
of Tarsus sailed from Asia Minor to Macedonia
in Europe for the first time. In the 4th century
AD, Constantine the Great thought of making
Troas the capital of the Roman
Empire.The destruction of the city resulted
from a violent earthquake. The site has been
much plundered since and the stones from its
monuments reused. However, the remains of
a theatre, a temple, the eastern gate, the
walls which are fairly well preserved, and
the bath of Herodes Atticus can be found within
Bath of Herodes Atticus
is located in the village of Gülpinar
(ancient Chryse) on the Southwestern tip of
the Biga Peninsula. The temple was erected
about 330 BC in a locality where springs provided
abundant water. People of Alexandria Troas
came here to consult the Oracle of Appolo
and plenty of water was needed for prophecy.
We learn from Homer's Iliad about Appolo and
his attribute Smintheius a name meaning rat
which is associated with the plague and its
while marching on Troy sacked the whole region
and kidnapped the women. Chryseis, daughter
of Chryse a priest of Apollo Smintheus, was
abducted by Agamemnon who refused to release
her in spite of the gifts offered by the distraught
father to rescue his daughter. The priest
pleaded with Apollo to intervene and the furious
god sent a pestilence of rats among the Greek
Army killing many of them. Given the situation,
Agamemnon released the girl. The priest and
the locals offered sacrifices in gratitude
for the god's help who now also had to stop
the plague. The ornementation of the friezes
and column drums depict these scenes as well
as episodes of the Trojan War.
The depiction of these mythological events have
been seen on vases, wall paintings and sarcophagi
but never on the reliefs of a temple which is
unique. Finds from the excavations are on display
in the small Museum at the entrance of the site
and in the Archaeological Museum in Çanakkale.