Many visitors to Istanbul enjoy exploring other nearby parts of Turkey. A very popular destination is the Gallipoli National Park. Here’s an introduction to the history behind the park’s creation and how you can travel there from Istanbul to visit this important memorial from World War I.
The Battle of Gallipoli
The Gallipoli National Park is a memorial to the Battle of Gallipoli during World War I. This was also known as the Dardanelles Campaign and the Battle of Çanakkale (in Turkish: Çanakkale Savaşı).
The Gallipoli Campaign was waged from 25 April 1915 until 9 January 1916 on the Gallipoli Peninsula, now known as Gelibolu in modern Turkey. At the time, the Republic of Turkey did not yet exist, and the Gallipoli Peninsula was still part of the Ottoman Empire.
The battle was fought over control of the Dardanelles, the straits that provided quick access to the Russian Empire (an Allied power) to the northeast of the Ottoman Empire. Britain and France, the other Allied powers, launched a naval attack on the peninsula, with goal of taking the Dardanelles and capturing Constantinople (now Istanbul).
A World War I History Refresher
It may help to remember what the world map looked like at the time of World War I. The Ottoman Empire was much larger than modern Turkey today. It extended over much of the Middle East, including what is today part of Iraq, northern Saudi Arabia and the Levant (now Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Israel and Palestine).
The Ottoman Empire had been slowly crumbling, however, and losing territory to Europe. With no option of joining the Allied powers, the Ottoman Empire joined forces with Germany in the war in the hopes of retaining some of its strength.
The Importance of Gallipoli
While the Ottoman Empire did ultimately win the Battle of Gallipoli, there were huge casualties on both sides. Over 100,000 men died and roughly 400,000 were injured, including huge numbers from Australia and New Zealand. The 1981 film Gallipoli by Peter Weir paints a vivid picture of the Australian participation in the battle, which led to a great sense of national identity for them.
In spite of the victory at Gallipoli, the Ottoman Empire continued to deteriorate, paving the way for the Turkish War of Independence six years later and the establishment of the Republic of Turkey under Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. Atatürk became the first President of the modern nation of Turkey and is revered throughout the country.
Travel to Gallipoli
The battlefields at Gallipoli are now a national monument and open to the public. The Gallipoli National Park stretches for 35 km (22 miles) along the peninsula. The Çanakkale Epic Presentation Center at Kabatebe is a visitor center that features a multimedia presentation and exhibits about the Battle of Gallipoli.
Most travelers to the area use Çanakkale as a base. You can travel to Çanakkale by ferry, bus, plane or car. From there, you can take one of two ferries to Eceabat or Kilitbahir on the Gallipoli Peninsula to the park. Know that each year around April 25th, which is Anzac Day in Australia and New Zealand, the Gallipoli National Park can be quite busy with travelers coming to honor the fallen from their countries.
Our concierge at Hotel Büyük Keban can make all the arrangements for you, depending on how you would like to set up your trip. Some people manage to travel to Gallipoli National Park as a day trip, which is easiest by plane or ferry. If you are heading to Troy or Ephesus as well, you may wish to stay in Çanakkale overnight. Of course, we will have a room waiting for you on your return to Istanbul!
Contact us today to make your reservation at the hotel, and we can also get started on making your travel arrangements to Gallipoli and answer any questions you have about day drips around Istanbul. Turkey is rich in history, and you are sure to love your stay in the city as well as the many fascinating sights nearby.