A city that has been home to many civilizations, Ҫanakkale is gifted with some of the most significant historical attractions in Turkey.
Located on the narrowest point of the Dardanelles, Ҫanakkale is Turkey’s second-largest province and a wonderful vacation destination that’s best-known for its fascinating historical sites. It’s a port city with a lively atmosphere, exquisite culinary traditions and numerous must-see attractions, just three of the many reasons Ҫanakkale attracts both local and international tourists every year. Despite it being a convenient base for those wanting to explore everything that northwest Turkey has to offer, Ҫanakkale is not overly touristy and is perfect if you enjoy beautiful scenery and relaxed seaside vibes.
We’ve put together some of our top reason to visit Ҫanakkale to help you get the most out of your first trip to this charming city.
Trojan Horse from the Troy movie
The Trojan horse statue could be your first stop in the city as it’s located on the waterfront, next to Moorabbin Park. It was originally used in the Troy movie starring Brad Pitt and later transported to Ҫanakkale and erected on the waterfront plaza in 2004. The huge Trojan horse weighs 11 tons and is 11.4 meters high, so you should be able to spot it from your cruise ship before you arrive at the port. Once you’ve grabbed a few photos with the movie-famous Trojan horse, you can take a stroll along the promenade to take in the views and watch the local fishermen unload their catch of the day.
Ancient City of Troy
Widely accepted as the setting for the Greek poet Homer’s epic “The Iliad” which describes the Trojan Wars and the siege of the city, the ancient city of Troy is truly the stuff of legends. For many years, people believed that the city never actually existed and that it was nothing more than just a legend. But when German archaeologist, Heinrich Schliemann, discovered the ruins of Troy in the 19th century, he managed to convince the world that the city of Troy did actually exist.
Since then and as a result of 156 years of archaeological excavations carried out in the area, ten layers of settlements from different periods have been carefully unearthed. Each time Troy was destroyed, the citizens would build a new city on top of the ruins of the last, and it was only in 2019 when new discoveries from excavations revealed that the ancient city of Troy may have been used as a settlement more than six centuries earlier than previously thought.
Today, the ancient city of Troy is one of the most famous archaeological sites on the planet. When you visit the site, you can walk amongst the ruins and come face to face with the Trojan War, as well as learn about the Greek warriors, such as Achilles, and the different settlements that stamped their mark on the place.
The Troy Museum is a rust-colored, cube-shaped building that sits at the entrance of the archaeological site of Troy and is designed to look like an excavated artifact. It opened its doors to visitors in October 2018, so it’s a relatively new museum that boasts over 2000 artifacts, along with interactive displays and stories of the objects found at the ancient site. Among the collections are sculptures, ceramics, bone objects, tools, figurines, terracotta scent bottles and pieces of Troy gold jewelry that date back to 2400 B.C.E.
Built on an area of around 11,000 square meters, the museum is divided into seven sections and the height of the museum is meant to be equal to the pre-excavation height of ancient Troy. Inside, you’ll not only find artifacts revealed as a result of the excavations at the ancient city of Troy but also Troy works that have been found in other countries.
Most famous for being home to Aristotle’s School of Philosophy, Assos is an ancient harbor city with ruins that date back to the seventh century B.C.E. The city lies on the slopes of a hill and was ruled by many civilizations, with the Greeks, Romans, Ottomans, Byzantines and Persians all leaving their mark on Assos. So far, a theater, market place, harbor, gymnasium, necropolis and assembly building have been unearthed in the city, but the most important work of Assos has to be the Temple of Athena.
Assos is the perfect setting if you enjoy being immersed in history and nature but it’s also a wonderful place to relax and catch spectacular sunsets. When visiting Assos, you can wander up to the tip of the hill to see the well-preserved Temple of Athena, which overlooks the sea and the nearby Greek island of Lesbos, then explore the city walls and artisan shops before getting a taste of Turkish hospitality at one of the many cafes or restaurants.
Gallipoli Battlefields and Gravesites
If you’re interested in World War I history then you may want to visit the battlegrounds of the British and ANZAC (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps) invasion and the war cemeteries of the Gallipoli campaign on the Gallipoli Peninsula. Remembered by its veterans as one of the worst places to serve, Gallipoli was the scene of some of the fiercest fighting of the First World War.
The Gallipoli campaign was an Allied offensive conducted by British and French forces to knock Ottoman Turkey out of the war to allow Allied ships to pass through the Dardanelles and to secure a sea route to Russia. It was also the first major campaign to involve the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps, who landed at what is now known as Anzac Cove on April 25th, 1915. The landings of the British troops at Cape Helles and the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps at Anzac Cove were met by fierce Turkish opposition, which resulted in most of the soldiers advancing no more than a few hundred meters from the shore. There were heavy casualties, not just from fighting but from suffocating heat, lack of water and extremely unsanitary conditions, and all attempts to break through the Turkish lines failed.
You can learn a lot by visiting the Gallipoli Battlefields and you’ll be able to see where the Allied ships landed and the areas that were used by the Ottoman soldiers to plan their battle strategies. If you don’t want to miss out on seeing any of the key locations and some of the less-visited areas within the battlefields, we recommend you do a tour with a guide. Once you’ve followed the footsteps of the men who served at Gallipoli, you can move on to the many gravesites and memorials to pay your respects to fallen World War I soldiers.
If you want to visit this part of Turkey to discover its unique culture and monuments, you can book your cruise to Ҫanakkale here.