Gallipoli

Gallipoli in Canakkale province of Turkey.

Gallipoli, the Turkish name is Gelibolu, should not be confused with the town of Gallipoli in Italy.Gallipoli in Turkey is a medium sized harbour town with a busy ferry port that enables travellers and vehicles to cross over the Dardenelles to Lapseki on the other side. Soon there will be a large bridge spanning the 10 km over the straits making it the largest suspension bridge of its kind in the world. It should be completed by 2023.

Gallipoli gets its name from the Greek word Kallipolis which means beautiful city. This then adopted the Italian form to become Gallipoli whereas in Turkish the town is known as Gelibolu.

Gallipoli is of course famous due to the Gallipoli Campaign of World War I. This video is about the town, the places to see and things to do. We have a separate video that deals with the Gallipoli campaign and you can access this through the playlist.

For those interested in the Gallipoli campaign then there is the Gallipoli War Museum which is a private museum that opened in 2007. The museum explains the campaign and the allied withdrawal and has weapons, tools and everyday items that would have been used during the campaign. The museum gives you an insight to life in those times from the Allied and Turkish perspective and it details the role of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk and the British Commander of the Allied forces.  It is a small museum but well worth a visit.

All of the battlefields around Gallipoli have been galvanised into a huge national park. This preserves the natural beauty of the area and has prevented the area from becoming too commercialised.

Another museum that you should visit is the Piri Reis Museum. It can be found by the fishing harbour, a large tower that used to be part of the fortifications of the town and which would once have run along the waterfront. The museum is inside the tower.

The Ottoman Admirial Piri Reis lived from 1470 – 1554. The museum houses prints showing Gallipoli from times gone by but the second floor is completely devoted to Piri Reis whose real name was Hadji Ahmed Muhiddin Piri.  You can see why he gets called Piri Reis. He put together a specialist book of maps and charts, a kind of book of navigation called Kitabi Bahriye which charted ports and cities around the Mediterranean. His maps include one of the oldest maps of America and the New World.

The fishing harbour is the hub and busy centre of town with its modern shops and restaurants and as towns go it has pretty much everything you would expect of a town this size.

I should mention that the town has a Tractor museum housing some 60 old tractors, collected from villages and towns across Turkey. This is such an amazing museum that we have dedicated a whole video just to this museum. The work that has gone into the restoration of these tractors to restore them to completely new and pristine condition is absolutely outstanding.

The history of Gallipoli goes back a long way. This area was an important wheat producing region and its position on the Dardenelles gave it a strategic importance for traffic between Europe and Asia and of course shipping from Crimea.

The Greeks founded several cities along this peninsular which were then captured by the Persians and then taken back by the Greeks. The Romans invaded. Atilla the Hun came and went. It was ruled by the Republic of Venice for a short time and the Byantines controlled it until 1356 when it fell to the Ottomans. The defence walls had been badly damaged by an earthquake in 1354. So that is a very brief potted history. Essentially it allowed the 30,000 or so inhabitants of Greek, Turkish, Armenian and Jewish origin to leave peacefully until the next upheaval of the Crimean War from 1853 – 1856. Next came the First Balkan war of 1912-1913 which ended badly for most Greeks since the Ottoman Army destroyed many of the Greek communities in and around the town forcing most of the Greeks to move to Gallipoli.

Then came the First World War and the Gallipoli Campaign of 1915-1916, followed by the deportation of Greek residents from Gallipoli and the surrounding area to locations further inland. The Greeks talk about how badly they were treated and how their houses were looted and damaged but Greece was soon to be at war with Turkey and trying to do all it could to take land from the Ottoman Empire. The Greeks were already seen as being the enemy.

Following the First World War the Greeks invaded and occupied Gallipoli during the Greek-Turkish War of 1919-1922. What followed for Turkey was its battle for survival and The Turkish War of Independence. The Greeks failed and Gallipoli was handed over to British troops in October 1922 and then to Turkish rule in November of 1922.

Thankfully we now live in more peaceful times and Gallipoli has hopefully seen the last of its wars. Certainly the Gallipoli of today is a thriving community within a beautiful part of Turkey.

Gallipoli also has a good sandy beach, along with its very own Hilton Hotel. The seafront is popular during the summer months and this modern town has pretty much all you would need for a good vacation or as a stepping stone to explore further afield.

Well that’s if from Gallipoli. Be sure to check out the Tractor Museum video and Gallipoli Campaign and War Graves videos. 

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