Contributor: MELİH USLU
Each year thousands of Australians, New Zealanders, British, Indian and French citizens visit Gallipoli to commemorate their ancestors who lost their lives in the Gallipoli Campaign of 1915. Like every year, there is great excitement also this year in countries that fought in Turkey. The Anzacs prepare meticulously for the memorial events, and make intense efforts for the unforgettable ceremonies to be held on 24-25 April 2017 on the Çanakkale Peninsula. Both Australia and New Zealand media closely follow the ceremonies. Australia officially requested Turkey to increase the capacity of the ceremonial ground in the Anzac bay, located in the Gallipoli Peninsula National Park. Due to intense demand, the ceremony attendees will be determined by a lot.
FILM STARS EXPECTED
Expressing that they are grateful to Turkey for the friendship and hospitality shown in memorial events held in Gallipoli to date, Australian Government declared 2015 as “Turkey Year in Australia”. Australians and New Zealanders plan to organize a number of events again this year on Gallipoli Campaign Honour and Respect Day. For example, teams from numerous countries are expected to participate in the rowing contest planned to be held in the Dardanelles Strait. Numerous celebrities including names as Russell Crowe, Nicole Kidman, Mel Gibson and Kylie Minogue were invited to the ceremonies. Rehearsals for 2017 Gallipoli Campaign Memorial Ceremonies have already begun. It is known that commissioned groups held feasibility studies in Gallipoli for this purpose. After this short briefing, let’s try to explain what Gallipoli Campaign means for the Anzacs with a short story. It was about 10 years ago. As a young reporter, I visited the historical battlefields in the region with a photographer colleague. I met Kerry Brain there. Brain, a history teacher from Melbourne, was lying face down on a small grave completely still. I wanted to help her thinking she was unwell. Later I found out that Madame Brain found the grave of his grandfather, she had been searching for a long time. I left her alone with her grandfather in these emotional moments. It was indeed very sentimental…
Now let’s explore the geography where Gallipoli Campaign took place. Gallipoli Peninsula has been civilizations’ gateway to European continent which inhabited Anatolia since the early ages. There are a total of 32 ancient cities on the peninsula including Troy. Gallipoli, one of the most important historical settlements on the peninsula, became the first land Ottomans conquered in Europe in 1354. As Turks began to rapidly spread to Europe, the income from spoils of the war began to flow to Gallipoli. As the city became wealthier, scholars, poets and clergy from all around Anatolia came to the region. Gallipoli became the most important Ottoman city after Istanbul, Bursa and Edirne in the 15th century. Piri Reis drew the first world map that evoked admiration worldwide, in Gallipoli in 1513. Most of the tombs and sanctuaries in the area that still stand, date back to that period. The Gallipoli Peninsula National Park, an open-air museum with traces of the Gallipoli Campaigns is a must see. There are about 70 monuments and hundreds of tombs built in the park in memory of Turkish, Australian, French, British and New Zealand soldiers. If you plan to tour the area by car, it is suggested that you start the tour near Akbaş district on the coastal road to Eceabat. After Bigali village where museum house of Gazi Mustafa Kemal is located, you can visit the area between Conkbayırı and Arıburnu where the battle was most intense. Known as the place where Anzacs gave the biggest casualties in the Gallipoli Campaign, Kanlısırt is considered sacred by Australians and New Zealanders. The route through Anzac Bay, Kabatepe and Açıtepe ends with the colossal Victory Monument rising at Hisarlık Cape.
A NIGHT AT ANZAC BAY
April 25, the beginning date of the Gallipoli Land Campaign, is a national holiday in Australia and New Zealand. Every year on this date, acknowledge by Anzacs as the beginning of the process of becoming a nation, tens of thousands of Australians and New Zealanders visit Gallipoli. The visitors gathered at Anzac Bay spend the night connecting April 24th to the following day, here. They are here around 4.30 A.M. to commemorate the beginning of military landing.
An abbreviation for the Australian, New Zealand Army Corps, which means Australia and New Zealand Corps.
The Lone Pine Monument in Kanlısırt bears the memories of more than 5 thousand Anzac soldiers. The pine tree brought from Australia and planted here by the monument, expresses the loneliness of soldiers who lost their lives in these lands.
WHAT TO EAT?
Do not complete your Çanakkale trip before tasting sardine and cheese halva in Gallipoli, tomato jam in Bozcaada, keşkek in Bayramiç and vicinity, and fried calamari at Babakale.
DO NOT MISS
An educative and entertaining venue where you can see the production stages of olive oil: Adatepe Olive Oil Museum. The museum in a renovated factory where tools, instruments and accessories used for olive, olive oil and soap production are displayed.
Gulf of Saroz, preferred for its swimming, sunbathing, surfing and camping facilities, is one of the most important scuba diving sites in Turkey. Known as a natural aquarium by diving enthusiasts, the gulf is home to more than 240 marine species.
HOW TO GO?
Reciprocal flights between Istanbul and Çanakkale are held every day of the week. 330 kilometres from Istanbul, Çanakkale is at four-hour driving distance. You can rent a car at prices starting from 150 TL per day from Çanakkale and explore the region.