The city of Çanakkale lies at the narrow 1200m entrance to the Çanakkale Strait (Dardanelles) that connects the Sea of Marmara and the Aegean. Passenger and car ferries run daily between Çanakkale on the Asian side and Eceabat and Kilitbahir on the European side. Yachts navigating the straits stop at the well-equipped Çanakkale Marina to allow tourists more time in the area. Hotels, restaurants and cafes along the promenade offer visitors a place to enjoy the harbour, as well as providing a view of the Kilitbahir Fortress and Çanakkale Archaeological Museum. What is more, the Archaeological Site of Troy was added to the World Heritage Cultural List of UNESCO, inviting history fans to its magnificent ancient settlement ruins.
“In 1451 Sultan Mehmet II, the conqueror of İstanbul, built one fortress on the European side of the Çanakkale Strait at Kilitbahir and one on the opposite shore at Çimenlik to control the passage of ships through the strait. Today the Çimenlik Fortress serves as a military museum dedicated to the World War I Battles of Çanakkale”.
The Historic National Park of the Gelibolu Peninsula was established to honour the 500,000 soldiers who lost their lives in Gelibolu, also known as Gallipoli. In 1915, Mustafa Kemal, the commander of the Turkish army, led a successful campaign to drive out allied powers from the area. The park accommodates memorials, monuments and cemeteries as well as the natural beauty of the Arıburnu Cliffs and Tuz Gölü (Salt Lake). The beauty of the green hills, sandy beaches and blue waters are an honourable resting place for the soldiers who bravely fought and died in this historic battle. One cannot help but sense the heart of the Turkish nation in the patriotic spirit of Gallipoli. As the largest of the Turkish islands, Gökçeada is ringed with pristine bays.
Its hills covered with the green of pine and olive trees are dotted with sacred springs and monasteries. Regular ferry boats make the trip from Çanakkale and Kabatepe possible and in August both islanders and tourists gather for colourful local fairs.
As you get near to Bozcaada Island, the Venetian castle captures your attention. Then your eyes are drawn to the glistening white houses and restaurants and cafes which line the promenade. Wine seems as plentiful as water on this island and a tour reveals many vineyards and wine cellars. There are good sandy beaches at Ayazma, Poyraz and İğdelik.
Legends and Temples
Homer immortalized Troia (Troy) in his stories of King Priam, Hector, Paris and the beautiful Helen. Archaeological excavations have revealed nine separate periods of settlement here including ruins of city walls, house foundations, a temple and a theatre. A large and symbolic wooden Trojan horse marks the legendary war today. The ancient harbour of Alexandria-Troas was built in the 3rd century BC and St Paul passed through the city twice on his third missionary journey going on to Assos.
The acropolis of Assos (Behramkale) is 238m above sea level, with the Temple of Athena being constructed on this site in the 6th century BC. This Doric temple is currently being restored to its former glory and role as guardian of the Biga Peninsula and Gulf of Edremit. Wander around to see the moonlight scattered through the temple ruins! Or rise early for the awakening dawn over the acropolis! From the top you can take in the magnificent vista of the Gulf of Edremit and appreciate this heavenly location. On the terraces descending to the sea are agoras, a gymnasium and a theatre and from the northern corner of the acropolis, you can see a mosque, a bridge and a fortress, all built by Sultan Murat I in the 14th century. Down below lies a tiny and idyllic ancient harbour.
Assos has gained the reputation of being the centre of the Turkish artistic community with its lively, friendly and bohemian atmosphere – this may be the place you will always remember for years to come. In the village of Gülpınar, 25km west of Behramkale, is the ancient city of Chryse where the 2nd-century BC temple of Apollo is located. Babakale, a scenic village of houses terraced on a cliff which drops to the sea, is 15km west of Gülpınar that is located on an unmarked road that follows the jagged coastline.