Lapseki is just half an hours drive up the D200, a distance of some 30 odd kilometres. We pass near the village of Yapildak and Suluca which is by the sea. The Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmuş has a summer house here. From Suluca we follow the coastal road along Dumlupinar Street until we reach Lapseki.
A new bridge is being built to take traffic across the Dardenelles. Named the Çanakkale 1915 Bridge or in Turkish the Çanakkale 1915 Köprüsü), is a suspension bridge that will link Lapseki and Gallipoli and span the 10 km straights. With a completion date sometime in 2023 this will become the longest suspension bridge in the world. This is a huge project and you can see that it is well underway here in the video.
At a cost of 2.3 billions Euros or 2.83 billion US dollars, the money for the project was raised from 24 banks from 10 countries around the world with the tender for the project being won by a consortium of South Korean and Turkish firms. The bridge is named in honour of the historic World War I victory at Gallipolli. The bridge will span over 2000 metres.
There are a number of summer houses and seaside villages along this coast. Lapseki as a town has also expanded rapidly in recent years. There is busy ferryboat service from Lapseki across the Dardenelles to Gallipoli. During the summer months it runs every hour with a reduced schedule during winter and dependent upon demand.
There has been a settlement here since the 6thcentury when the Greeks arrived from Phocaea or Foca as it is named today. Under the rule of King Mendrom the town would have been known as Pityausa. The king defended the town from attack and introduced coinage for the first time in this area which was minted in the name of his daughter Lapseke. The colonists were so grateful that they named the town Lampsakos accordingly. However, there is another line of thought that suggests that the name Lampsakos was the daughter of a great philosopher of ancient Greece.
The Byzantines ruled the city right up until 1356 when it fell into Ottoman ownership due to its conquest by Süleyman Pasha. There was a short period of occupation during the World War I by the British and allied forces during the Gallipoli campaign of which the numerous war grave sites for both Turkish and foreign soldiers provide a grim reminder.
There is an annual Cherry Festival which takes place in the first week of June and which has been running since 1983. The festival has a local beauty contest, music concerts, sailing contests and a variety of entertainment throughout its duration. Agriculture is the main source of employment but fishing and tourism also play a part. The town has a fair in September and a wrestling competition which takes place in the nearby town of Çardak in August.
Every year there is a special day called Hiderellez, a kind of celebration of Spring which takes place on the first Sunday after May 6th. This happens in other villages around Canakkale too. Locals will write their wishes down on paper the night before and embed them at the bottom of a rose, hoping that these wishes will come true. A large bonfire is lit and on the evening of Hiderellez people will jump over it and this will protect people from trouble and disease for the year ahead.
The seafront promenade is a busy place during the summer. There are statues of Pegasus and a mermaid in the port area and plenty of trucks full of produce making the crossing from both directions. Local culinary delights are the Bahar Pilavi or spring rice, which is cooked with baby goat meat and particularly popular during Hidirellez. Also the Peynir Helvasi, cheese helva and the Kusburnu Kurabiyesi Rosehip pastries are particularly good.