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.

Both 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 conquests.

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 Argonauts.

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 Leander.

The 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.

From 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 the battles.

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 soldiers.

"Those 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 peace.
After having lost their lives on this land, they have become our sons as well."


The Strait of the Dardanelles

Turkish cemetery

French cemetery


ANZAC cemetery

The Memorial Arch

Mustafa Kemal Atatürk and his soldiers in the trenches

Çanakkale 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). Production continued in Çanakkale until the beginning of the 20th century. The Çinili Kösk Museum in Istanbul has a large collection of Çanakkale pottery.

Çanakkale Archaeological Museum displays Çanakkale ceramics, finds from Troy, Dardanos Tumulus, Tenedos, Assos and the Temple of Apollon Smintheion (see below).

The 1915 Naval Victory Celebration takes place every year in Çanakkale on March 18th, and the Troy Festival between August 10 and 14.

The only way to cross the strait is to take one of the passenger and car ferries that run daily between Çanakkale and Eceabat/Kilitbahir, or between Lapseki and Gelibolu.

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
Gökçeada 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 Troy.
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

The forteress

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
Alexandria Troas 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 this area.

Bath of Herodes Atticus
Appolo Smintheion Temple 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 cure:
The Achaens 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.