This page deals with the north Aegean locations of Canakkale, Gallipoli, Troy, Pergamon and Kusadasi.
Canakkale has 100 thousand permanent residents and another 30 thousand university students during term. Its temperate climate and good amenities have attracted more than the usual share of better-off Turkish retirees.
Because it is so close to both the WW1 Gallipoli battlefields and Troy it attracts large numbers of tourists, both international and Turks and so has a fine array of hotels, restaurants and shopping.
The above pic is shot from the vehicle ferry between Ecobat on the European side and Canakkale on the Asian side. Because the ferries are a link in the east coast highway they tend to run frequently.
After the British and French navies failed to force a passage thru the Dardanelles in WW1, the First Lord of the Admiralty Winston Churchill had the brilliant idea of landing an invasion force of Australian, New Zealand, French and British troops on the Aegean side of the narrow Gallipoli peninsula, storming the heights from where they could easily overrun the Dardanelles shore and open the Straits to allied shipping for an attack on Istanbul and a supply route to Russia. However stupid mistakes and the ferocious defence put up by the Turks doomed this campaign to failure.
The campaign has great importance to Australia and New Zealand because it was the first real chance for these young nations to forge their national identity. April 25, the date the first troops stormed the beaches, is celebrated in both countries as THE day of remembrance for casualties and survivors in ALL the wars they have fought - ANZAC (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps) DAY. It is similarly important to Turks who see it as the first real test of modern Turkey. They defended ferociously, often to the last man and out of ammunition - and kicked arse which adds to national pride.
Note that Brighton Beach is a popular leisure destination for Turks today - nice sand and water plus a neat camping ground behind the trees right mid-shot.
Loss of life was great - 88000 Turks, 44000 Brits and French, 6000 Aussies and 3000 Kiwis - note that most of the allied survivors were then transferred to the Western Front in France which was even more hazardous).
*My tour was run by the legendary Crowded House travel agency a very short distance up the main street from the ferry and bus stops in Canakkale (right hand side). The timing is such that you can do the much shorter Troy tour in the morning before kicking off around 1130 for Gallipoli (first is an inclusive lunch in Ecebat). The guide was excellent giving a balanced yet impassioned commentary of the campaign. Crowded House also runs people down from Istanbul to do Gallipoli - some go back the same day (strewth!) but others stay and do Troy next day or enjoy Canakkale or Ecebat for a while. Crowded House offers many other tours and services.
New Zealand soldiers actually reached Chunuk Bair for a short time but the Turks counter attacked fiercely and pushed them back.
Many Turks believe this shows the real winner of the campaign. Here is a replica of the minelayer Nurset which sneaked out at night and replaced some of the mines allied minesweepers had cleared before the French/British naval attempt to storm the Dardanelles. A french battleship hit one of the mines and sank which saw an abandonment of the naval sortie - the loss of one obsolete battleship (the newer ones were kept in the north Atlantic to take on the German fleet) and several hundred sailors subsequently cost the lives of over a hundred thousand troops.
This replica is in the military museum which is in and around an old Ottoman empire fort just past the far western end of the seafront promenade in Canakkale.
The ruins of the ancient city are about a 40 minute drive south-west of Canakkale. It is generally agreed they are nowhere near as impressive as Pergamon and Ephesus further south - nevertheless I found the site interesting. Many regard Troy as a myth but excavations reveal there were at least 9 different cities here over the period 3000BC-first century BC - some were destroyed by earthquake/fire, some by war. It is generally thought that if Homer's yarn about Helen, Paris and the wooden horse is true it most likely occured in early Troy #7 - 1300 to 950BC. The city declined after Troy#9 because the estuary of the adjacent river silted up placing the city too far from the sea to facilitate trade. The growth of Constantinople in this period as a trading opponent did not help.
Once again I went with Crowded House whose guide did an excellent job in presenting both the mythical and archaeological interpretations of the ruins. The guided tours are not time consuming, taking something like 3 hours Canakkale/Canakkale and are inexpensive.
I needed to get from Canakkale to Kusadasi, a resort city several hundred km south to catch a ferry to the Greek island of Samos.
The bus schedules didn't make the journey easy and when I learned Crowded House had a van going to Kusadasi with a stop-over at the ruins of ancient Pergamon I jumped at it. Crowded House was also going to tour Ephesus the next day but I gave that a miss figuring I'd be overdosing on ancient ruins if I did 3 in a row. Note Kusadasi is mispelled on the above map, but once again correcting it is too time consuming. Please excuse spelling on map, but as said it's too time-consuming to fix.
The above was shot from Pigeon Island which has a neat fort and is a nice spot for a stroll or viewpoint. The town has a permanent population of about 70000 which swells to over half a million in high season - buildings stretch several km along the coast both sides of image.
XXXX - If you have any questions, please ask them in THE FORUM rather than below. I don't get a chance to check all threads daily, but unless I'm travelling I'll try to monitor THE FORUM regularly.
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