GUEST AUTHOR: Eylul Basok, Spotahome Student Ambassador
I am sure the first thing that will catch your attention here is that there are two sides to this city, just like Istanbul. Dardanelles, which is an internationally and historically important waterway, divides the city into European (known as Gallipoli Peninsula) and Asian side.
You can get here fron Istanbul by plane, car or bus. The plane takes 30 minutes and car about 4 hours, just keep in mind that there aren’t flights every day of the week.
Canakkale was home to many stories of Trojan wars and World Word I. This left the city with legendary castles that stand over the coast and thousands of historic attractions today. If you’re a history freak, this city is your heaven. If you are not, you will still enjoy every second of your trip.
The wooden Trojan horse model could be your first stop in this city as it is located in the waterfront of Çanakkale. It was used in the Wolfgang Petersen movie “Troy” so every very tourist in town stops here to take a photo of this old movie prop, which has shared a scene with Brad Pitt.
For many years people believed that it was a city in tales that never existed. But with the discovery of Troy, several layers of different settlements that had been emerged here over 2,500 years (from early Bronze Age to Byzantine times) have come to light. Mostly, Troy is associated with the legendary stories of the Trojan War written by Homer in “the Iliad and Odyssey” which is the foundation element of European literature.
The Military Museum is located in a park that faces the Gallipoli Peninsula over Dardanelles, where World War I's Allied attacks on Turkish forces was played out. The park has old military equipment and the museum has interesting exhibits. It is a good opportunity to understand the battle that took place here from the Turkish perspective.
Next to the museum, there is Çimenlik Castle (Çimenlik Kalesi), built in 1452 by the Ottoman Sultan who took Istanbul from Byzantines. With the cannons that are still pointed out toward Dardanelles, you will be captured by emotions that will make you shiver.
As you cross Dardanelles with ferry from the city centre, you will arrive in this small fishing village; Kilitbahir. The harbour is dominated by a castle that was built in 1452. It is worth a visit and moreover you can go up and have an amazing view over Canakkale.
When your visit is over, take the castle behind you and walk by the seaside for about 15 minutes. You will reach the bastions of Rumeli Hamidiye and Mecidiye. Don’t miss this chance and take a tour inside.
When you’re in the ferry again, pay attention to the fort above on the hilltop. You’ll see a Turkish soldier and a poem carved in white:
“Dur yolcu! Bilmeden gelip bastığın bu toprak, bir devrin battığı yerdir.”
In the guidebooks, it has been loosely translated as:
“Traveller halt! The soil you tread, once witnessed the end of an era.”
NORTHERN & SOUTHERN GALLIPOLI BATTLEFIELDS
Both for Turkish and foreign visitors, a trip here is a remembrance of the horror of the war. The peninsula is divided into two sections: the Northern Peninsula, where the Australian and New Zealand Army Corp (Anzac) troops landed on 25 April 1915; and the Southern Peninsula, where British, Indian, French and Australian troops landed on the same day.
After the severe 9-month battle, the Turks finally won with the brilliant strategy of the army officier Mustafa Kemal Atatürk who later becomes the founder of modern Turkey. The war resulted with millions of deaths and casualties. And today, the hills are covered with memorials and cemeteries of both sides.
P.S. There are so many things to see and learn so most of the tourists, even locals, prefer taking tours to visit this area and I recommend you to do so.
BOZCAADA or GOKCEADA
After this cultural trip, now it is time to enjoy the beauty of the Aegean Sea! Just with a ferry, you can go to these two beautiful islands. Choose Bozacaada if you’re more into luxury and can’t make it without a bottle of beer while sunbathing. Bozcaada is smaller in size so always more crowded. That being said, Gokceada is more naïve and virgin with its villages and local people. You can relax here with a classical Turkish coffee. Besides, Gokceada is known for its never-ending strong winds making it a perfect spot for windsurf and kiteboard. You can find both on-shore and side-shore winds and plenty of surf schools.
If you have limited time or just don’t want to go the islands get on the city bus and head to Güzelyalı. Fordinner time, make a reservation at one of the fish restaurants by the sea and enjoy freshly cooked fish with a cold glass of “rakı”!
Of course, this is not all! Güzelyalı is also famous with its powerful wind. Fortunately, this spot is explored and yet still secret only with one school; IDA Windsurf (http://www.idawindsurf.com/). They offer both windsurf and kiteboard lessons with amazing instructors and equipment rental.
I hope you have the opportunity to visit this amazing region.
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