Gallipoli Peninsula and Canakkale- Epic WWI Campaign

Gallipoli Peninsula and Canakkale- Epic WWI Campaign


Catching the Kabatepe-Gokceada ferry at 1 p.m., it took again 1.5 hours to go back. It was very windy and was not a smooth experience. Gokceada was a good starting point to relax and get some energy before the Gallipoli peninsula and Canakkale (we have a small road trip, starting from Istanbul to Gokceada and we will explore Gallipoli and Canakkale center. Next steps will be Troy, Bozcaada and Assos).

We are very excited about exploring the actual places of the Gallipoli War from bloody WWI and also exploring all these regions affected by the war.

P.S.: We also had the shorter version of this trip in 2023 (Gokceada– 2 days, Gallipoli- 2 days, and Bozcaada-2 days). We will provide what we experienced differently in 2023 at the end of this post.

Where is Gallipoli and Canakkale center?

You can see the location of Gallipoli below. It is part of Canakkale. To pass to Canakkale Center by car, two options exist- either the bridge or the car ferry.

Gallipoli and Canakkale – History

General Info [1]

Canakkale (ancient Greek: Dardanellia) is a well-known city probably because of Troy (or ancient region of Troad) and its popularity increased over the years due to Gokceada and Bozcaada (and also Assos) serving as a great summer vacation spot in Turkey. In addition, the Gallipoli peninsula is the epic center of the Great War.

It is known as Kala-i Sultaniye (fortress of the sultan and in Turkish: Sultaniye Kalesi) in the Ottomans. Canakkale is also famous due to Canakkale ceramics from the 17th century and later named Canak Kalesi (Pottery Castle).

We will mainly talk about Troy in this link (especially the site, museum, and the stages of Troy), the city or region has been ruled by Greeks, Lydians, Persians, the king of Pergamon, and Romans in history.

Before the Ottomans, Karasids (in Turkish: Karesi Beyligi) ruled the Anatolian side of the strait. Ottomans gained control of Gallipoli in 1367.

Canakkale was defended by the Ottomans successfully during WWI, but, later the Allies took control after the Armistice of Mudros, but re-taken back after the War of Independence.

Epic Gallipoli War [2,3,4]

Except for all the importance and historical events, the most important fact about Canakkale is the Gallipoli War in recent history, surely. Let’s talk about the Great War and Gallipoli War.

Ottomans Joining the War

Ottomans’ end was coming closer (Europe mainly calls the empire “the sick man of Europe”) after the defeat of the Balkan War, especially. In the beginning, the Ottomans were not part of any group. But, the tensions increased and the war officially started once a Bosnian Serb killed Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria. It is for sure that this was the final signal of the war, but there were so many reasons (balance in Europe, economic, political, technological, industrialization reasons, the condition in the Balkans, and more on).

Ottomans basically were still negotiating how to position themselves during the war. Historians generally say that the empire wanted to join the Allies but the Allies did not want the Ottomans to join especially since they were thinking of the Ottomans’ defeat during the Balkan War and considering the possible weakness of the Army. In addition, the Germans were pushing the Ottomans to join the Central Powers.

The Ottomans were also thinking about the possibility of re-growing back and it was not possible to stay neutral during the war. The entry to war began with two purchased ships (Goeben and Breslau) from Germans which passed the straits and moved to the Black Sea (they were still crewed by the Germans and the names were changed to Yavuz and Midilli, but please note that it was also a pressure to Ottomans politically, this is a bit challenging political condition definitely). And later, the ships bombed the Russian ports and Russians (later Britain and France) declared war against the Ottomans. However, the story here is not straightforward like this, the Ottomans also ordered two warships from England, and even though they were paid, the ships were never delivered to the Ottomans before this incident happened.

Ottomans’ Position

Ottomans joined the Central Powers (Germans, Austria- Hungary, Ottoman Empire, the Kingdom of Bulgaria). Due to the tight environment in Europe, another region was opened and the war was getting bigger and bigger. If we talk about the geopolitical position of Turkey, the allies (Britain, France, Russia, the US, Italy, Japan, Serbia, and more) were definitely targeting Istanbul due to the strait (you have to pass the Canakkale Strait first) where the Black and Aegean seas are connected. Istanbul is always important for the world since it is also connecting Asia and Europe.

Otto Liman von Sanders from Germany was already assigned on a mission to modernize the Ottoman Army. However, he was later assigned to lead the armies for the Gallipoli War to defend the strait and peninsula (he is also known as Liman Pasha).

After the declaration of the war, not much time passed and the Allies started preparing to attack to the Ottomans. The western front started the war already and the southern front was getting heated. The Gallipoli campaign was definitely critical for the war itself. Even, some generals and historians told later “Fewer people would die if the Gallipoli campaign was successful”.

Gallipoli War- Naval

The Gallipoli War was epic. Britain and France thought that the strait could be captured after a naval war easily. But, the mines and bombs stopped their attack with heroic performances of commanders, soldiers even normal people. The Allies returned back and they decided to turn this war into a land war. A famous and important figure of WWII Winston Churchill- the first lord of the British Admiralty resigned after the failed Gallipoli campaign in 1916.

If we talk about the naval war, the English and France prepared huge warships (or dreadnoughts including Agamemnon– you know it is not a coincidence to come to Canakkale with this name since Agamemnon was the one who ruled the Greek army to attack to Trojans, Queen Elizabeth, Irresistible, Ocean and more).

The Allies were mainly thinking that the sea was clean at all on the day of the attack. But, the commanders with Nusrat- Ottoman Minelayer (later evolved to Nusret) made a great plan before the attack with limited mines. They re-laid the mines and severely damaged the ships. You will observe the replica of the Nusret minelayer at the center. But, it is fair to say that Nusrat made a great job but this was not the only effort to stop the attacks for sure. Every year, the 18th of March is celebrated in Turkey to commemorate this naval victory in 1915. One of the reasons for this victory could also be underestimated Ottoman army performance at the seas since it is a well-known fact that Ottomans were always better at the land.

Photo references showing the bastions, and landings below are from the Gallipoli War Introduction Center. Here is the map showing the bastions.

Gallipoli straits
Bastions on the Strait

Gallipoli War- Land

Later, the Allies realized that it would not be possible to pass thru the straits and they brought their troops to the Gallipoli peninsula and it turned out to be a land war. A month later, closing to the end of April, the Allies started attacking by landing on the five different beaches around the south of the Gallipoli- Seddulbahir (or Sedd El Bahr)/Cape Helles and for Ariburnu/ANZAC Cove, ANZAC army was in-charge mainly (later there was also landing to Suvla Bay in August and Anafartalar (in Turkish) front was intended to break the deadlock of Gallipoli).  

Sir Ian Hamilton was commanding the campaign. During the war, the Allies mainly tried to expand the territory to the east with new troops. But, thru 1915 (there was a decline after the Anafartalar victories) it was mainly back and forth and Ottomans defended the peninsula successfully. Here are the maps of Gallipoli combat zones and military landings of French, Britain, and ANZAC.

We will provide more information while we are visiting these spots on Day 2.

Overall, many parties were part of this bloody war (France, England, Ottomans, Germany, Shik, Gurka, Anzacs- Australian and New Zealand Army Corps). So many people from different locations from Ottomans saw this war on the peninsula as well. A star was born during this war (Mustafa Kemal Ataturk) and changed the era. In the following years, the War of Independence was led by the father of Turks- Ataturk with successful commanders of the Gallipoli War. The phrases “You will never get through Canakkale” and “Canakkale is impassable” are still popular these days.

Gallipoli peninsula landings
Landings on the Gallipoli Peninsula

Day 1 in Gallipoli

Visiting Canakkale Destani Tanitim Merkezi

There are so many things to do or places to visit in Canakkale (it will be a dense tour since we have roughly 1.5 to 2 days). We started with the closest one- the Gallipoli War of World War I introduction center. This center is not very old (was opened in 2012). However, it explains the Gallipoli War very well. Again, we are planning to give specific information in the sections on Day 2.

In this center, you will understand the whole story of this war from the beginning till the end (some information also exists directly about WWI). And, there are so many things to explore like guns, animations, cine vision, uniforms, medals, scaled ships, and many more.

Some of the major areas and what we like:

  • Enver Pasha’s Uniforms and Accessories: Enver Pasha was the Chief Commander of the Ottoman armed forces during the war, he visited Gallipoli a few times.
  • Call to the war of the other countries
  • Soldier/commander uniforms including boots
  • Map of Gallipoli combat zones and military landings
  • Wax of Mustafa Kemal (Ataturk)

There is also a good terrace at the center where you can take a look over.

Star of Gallipoli- Mustafa Kemal
Wax of Mustafa Kemal

Dinner at Suvla and Moving to the Hotel

After riding a little bit around Eceabat, we went to Suvla Winery for dinner. Suvla Winery is a company having different types of wines and they also have a restaurant here. We ate “Eceabat Koftesi”, “Visneli Yaprak Sarma” and “Armutlu Salata” with a smooth red wine. It was great and we definitely recommend this spot for lunch or dinner.

Suvla dinner
Dinner at Suvla

After dinner, it is time to move to the hotel and we went there by Kilitbahir-Canakkale ferry. We will come back tomorrow to the Gallipoli peninsula to feel the war again. And, so many things are on the list.

We stayed at Set Ozer Hotel in the center. The room is small but the location is great. We are only planning a quick tour tonight.

Canakkale could be one of the cities where you can feel the sea very much. Spent some time on the shore and walked to the center. The nightlife looked good and the youth dominated the center.

Day 2 in Gallipoli

Gallipoli Peninsula

Started with an average breakfast at the hotel and we are super excited about the tour. We will go from Canakkale Center to Kilitbahir (Kilid-ul Bahir) first with the ferry that we tried yesterday. While you are on, you will observe the “Dur yolcu- Traveller halt” Memorial.

We are at the heart of WWI. The sick man of Europe was in the war again after the Balkan War. And this time, the country was really in-danger since the allies were very powerful (the UK, France, Russia). Straits (Canakkale, Istanbul) were/are always important for the world. The main intent was to provide support to Russia and if the Ottomans fell down, Europe could have been trapped easily.

There are two main battles that happened (land and naval). We will feel both of them in detail. By the way, there could be two options here. You can either go to the south to the southern front first and then move north step by step or you can start from Kilitbahir and check the spots on the road till the most southern front. We would not recommend you change the chronology of the war (e.g. checking Conkbayiri/ Chunuk Bair first and then going to the south). Let’s start…


Fatih Sultan Mehmed (the emperor who conquered Constantinople) ordered Kilidulbahir Sultanlar and Cimenlik fortresses to the minimum distance of the strait. It is a common thing to build these fortresses (e.g. Rumeli and Anatolian fortresses at the shortest distance to prevent support and threats). There are a total of ten fortresses (5 of them on the Anatolian side and 5 of them on the European side). The yellow tower had been added by Kanuni Sultan Suleyman.

Bastions (Namazgah and Rumeli Mecidiye)

Passing the castle, you will see the Namazgah bastion which is the biggest one that had been constructed by Sultan Abdulaziz, aka Aziziye Tabya. Namazgah generally means “the place where people pray”. It was the headquarters during the war where you can see the objects/artilleries from the war as of today. Rumeli Mecidiye bastion is the bastion where Corporal Seyit (in Turkish: Seyit Onbasi) served which is an important figure of the Gallipoli War. There is also his monument standing with a huge artillery shell. Seyit Onbasi was a gunner and he shot one of the warships during the war. But, he is famous because of carrying shells while the crane carrying the shells was not working. Please imagine that this person carried a shell by himself multiple times, that is why he is an important figure. It is heroic, isn’t it?

Seyit Onbasi in Gallipoli
Corporal Seyit

Sahindere Martyrdom

This is a real martyrdom. Sahindere location is the back of the Cape Helles, and it was used as the hospital/treatment area for the wounded soldiers due to its relatively safer location. Soldiers treated but died had been buried here as a group. There are a total of 2177 graves that exist here. On the walls, soldiers’ names (whose identities are identified) are written. The martyrdom has a moon-star shape representing the Turkish flag. There is only one-known grave belonging to Lt. Mustafa Efendi (even though the names of the soldiers are known, you don’t know which grave belongs to which soldier). Mustafa’s father was also here in the north front and he was informed when his son died. He was able to arrange a grave for him and later the grave was renewed.

Alcitepe Hospital Museum

We can also say that this is a wax museum and the museum is trying to represent medical services provided during the war. There was actually no building-type hospital here during the war but the photos from the war are all real. The movie Son Mektup (Last Letter in English) [5] is taken place here and talks about the love between pilot Salih Ekrem and nurse Nihal. In the movie, the hospital is the main area showing how soldiers were treated but it also shows the naval war and epic air combat supporting the naval war.

Hospital in Gallipoli
Alcitepe Hospital Museum

Canakkale Martyrs’ Monument (Memorial)

The monument here is dedicated to the Turkish soldiers who participated. It is close to Morto Bay (Morto means death in French). This design has a 4 columns design having Turkish flag on the ceiling. There was an official architectural contest in 1944 and due to financial problems (there was also a countrywide financial support campaign), the monument was opened in 1960.

There are symbolic graves here and also different monuments representing the war (commander Mustafa Kemal with soldiers background). Mustafa Kemal’s emotional letter (including the quote “Having lost their lives on this land, they have become our sons as well”) to ANZACs’ mothers is also shown in the area. There is also a grave dedicated to an unknown soldier. Unfortunately, an ANZAC soldier brought the skull belonging to an Ottoman soldier back to Australia. In 2003, it was brought back to Canakkale and it was put in one of the graves.

Memorial in Gallipoli
Canakkale Martyrs’ Monument

Seddulbahir Front

We are at the south front of the Gallipoli campaign.

Cape Helles Landing

Cape Helles landing was intended to bring the troops to five different beaches (S, X, V, W, Y). As a reminder, you know it is not possible to land all of the soldiers on the same beach. Thus, five different beaches constituting almost 180 degrees around the most southern spot have been selected. Main landings were at the V and W beaches. The day separated the landings at X, V, W (26th April) and S beach (27th April). The target was Krithia village (Kirte) and then Achi Baba (Alcitepe). The main battles are the First, Second, and Third Battle of Krithia and The Battle of Gully Ravine (Zigindere) which were mainly trying to push Ottoman soldiers and were held in April, May, June, and July 1915, consequently. All of the battles showed that it was not possible to pass thru the Ottomans at the Seddulbahir front.

Important Figures on the Area

The 1915 Seddulbahir War Gallery is a very good museum showing the dark side of the war. In addition to shoes, ammos, and scaled top view of the Gallipoli, two things in this museum are interesting. The first one is collided bullets in the air and the second one is bullets being shown in a small area (you can not count how many bullets are/ there are too many). This war was too intensive, this is why it is epic.

Collided bullets in the air

Seddulbahir Castle and Ertugrul Bastion are on the road. We already talked about the beaches and landings. The castle and bastion were heavily bombarded before the main naval war on the 18th of March and they were eliminated.

Sergeant Yahya Memorial and Martyrdom are dedicated to Sergeant Yahya and the 26th Regiment which defended the landing in Seddulbahir. On the 25th of April, several beaches have been selected for landing and Sergeant Yahya and the 10th division were defending Ertugrul Bay. The commander was wounded and Sergeant Yahya started commanding since he was the oldest (or senior). With a small number of soldiers and Sergeant Yahya fought to the last drop of blood the whole day and defended the bay successfully.


After exploring southern spots, it is time to explore the west and north. There is also a memorial close to the cove dedicated to ANZACs. It also has Ataturk’s emotional letter. Ariburnu front was the two main landings (later Suvla Bay was also selected for landing for the Anafartalar front). You know, it was not possible to land all the soldiers in the same spot and this landing was intended to attack to Ottomans to also cut the reinforcements to support the southern Seddulbahir front. Every year, people from Australia and New Zealand come to these spots on the 25th of April commemorating those who fought in these battlefields.

The 57th Infantry Regiment Martyrdom (Memorial)

This memorial is the one commemorating the men of the Ottoman 57th Infantry Regiment who died during the Gallipoli campaign. Before talking about the memorial, let’s spend some time about Mustafa Kemal and the 57th Infantry Regiment.

Ideas about Landings

Mustafa Kemal (aka Ataturk- the father of Turks) served in Italo-Turkish War and Balkan Wars and played an important role. Later, he was given a task to organize and command the 19th division attached to the 5th Army. He became an important figure in the Gallipoli. The 19th division was not at the front line at the beginning as there was chaos within the Ottoman commanders and Liman Pasha. The question was “Where would the Allies attack first?” Liman Pasha was thinking that Saros Bay would be the first spot, however, the commanders were thinking that the Allies would attack Gallipoli directly thru the bays.

Mustafa Kemal Rising

As there was a clear disconnect, Mustafa Kemal took the initiative. Once he heard about Cape Helles and Anzac Cove attacks, he directly thought to help the 27th Infantry Regiment which was at the front line to stop the Anzac Cove attacks. He came here with the 57th regiment and first wanted to check how the attack was and went to the front line with some officers.

He came to Chunuk Bair and observed that some of the Ottoman soldiers were running back due to running out of ammunition. And Mustafa Kemal said, “If you don’t have ammunition, you have bayonets. Fix the bayonets and get down”. As Mustafa Kemal said, “This was the moment that we won”. Because he stopped the momentum of the attacks with this smart move.

Later as the counterattack planned by Mustafa Kemal, he said “I do not order you to attack, I order you to die. In the time which passes until we die, other troops and commanders can take our place”. Ataturk and the 57th regiment changed the destiny of the battle with all these heroic moves. The 57th regiment lost their personnel and reinforced later and move to the different fronts of WWI. The regiment suffered heavy casualties and was considered destroyed and removed from the regiment list. It is honored by the military as the 57th regiment was never given as a name to any group.

If we go back to the memorial, please note that this is a symbolic one. According to the memorial, 1817 soldiers including 25 officers are remembered. In the memorial, there is a monument belonging to Huseyin Kacmaz who was the oldest Ghazi (war veteran) with his granddaughter. [6,7]

The 57th Infantry Regiment Martyrdom (Memorial)

Respect to Mehmetcik Monument

The Mehmetcik (Mehmetcik is a name given to soldiers in a war in Turkish) Monument in the peninsula is also an emotional one. This is based on a real story. A Turkish soldier carries a wounded Australian officer to the Australian lines before the fighting resumed. The inscription has Lord Casey’s words (Governor General of Australia) who was also in the Gallipoli campaign during WWI. He basically stated how Australians left the peninsula with admiration and respect for Turkish soldiers.

Lone Pine Memorial

Thru the road, it is unbelievable to see the trenches from the war belong to two sides that are very close to each other. Lone pine memorial/cemetery is the main memorial dedicated to ANZAC soldiers. There is only one pine which also names the memorial. The battle of Lone Pine (the battle of Kanlisirt- bloody ridge) occurred between 6th-10th August 1915. Again, it was back and forth, but ANZACs progressed on this battle, but again many soldiers died from both sides. That is why it was said as “bloody”.

Conkbayiri (Chunuk Bair)

Conkbayiri (or Chunuk Bair) is our final spot in the peninsula and it could be the final big attempt of the Allies to break the deadlock of the other two main sections. As we connected the 57th infantry regiment section with Chunuk Bair, Mustafa Kemal was assigned as the group commander of the Anafartalar section (Suvla Bay landing, aka August offensive) after a successful performance thru the war.

He was appreciated as he was clearly capturing the big picture of the war and estimated the opponent’s critical moves. You will observe big Mustafa Kemal’s monument and his observatory. The most famous event of this section is definitely the moment when Mustafa Kemal was granted to the nation. The troops were ready for the counterattack, they were waiting for Mustafa Kemal’s command. Mustafa Kemal approached the enemy. He ordered the attack and right after, the enemy started firing and shrapnel hit to Mustafa Kemal’s chest right side. Fortunately, Mustafa Kemal had a clock in his pocket. The piece hit the clock. This was the moment when Mustafa Kemal was granted to the nation. Mustafa Kemal gave this clock to the Liman Pasha as a present. On the hill, you will also see the trenches.

Mustafa Kemal’s Monument in Chunuk Bair

Please note that the entire sections above are shaped according to our perspective/takeaways. There is still more and more to explore (or write), but this was a kind of Gallipoli 101. We are going back to the center.

Canakkale Center

We returned to the center and quickly took a look at the Trojan horse. This horse has been sent as a gift after the movie- Troy. You know our next step is Troy and check this link if you want to explore more. It was time for dinner and we tried Sardalye. Their fish/bread combination is very good. And then just relaxed a little bit at Sakirin Yeri with Nusret Mayin ship and Kilidulbahir views.

Sardalye fishbread

Other Recommendations

You have so many things to do in Canakkale. But, we would remind our road trip. You can combine Gokceada, Bozcaada, Troy, and Assos on the road to your visit. If you want to explore more, you can click the links.

How to reach Canakkale and Gallipoli – Transportation Guide

Canakkale has an airport but is not very active. If you want to come to Canakkale directly, you probably would not be finding any option. There are also limited domestic options.

But, Canakkale’s location is good and it is not far away from Istanbul. Based on your location in Istanbul, it takes 3-4 hours to come to Canakkale. The best option seems like renting a car and coming to Canakkale which also allows you to be flexible during your visit. Otherwise, you can also prefer bus options from Istanbul.

Movies about Gallipoli War

You can see the list of Gallipoli campaign movies via this link [8]. We haven’t watched them all but the Water Diviner and Gallipoli: End of the Road, Gallipoli 1915 are very good movies that we could recommend.

What we experienced in 2023

  • There is a cafe near the center called Flag. Lemonade and coffee are great here. However, regardless of the taste, the atmosphere was good due to the music (there is no bad place with Daft Punk)
  • In Canakkale Martyrs’ Memorial, there is a symbol added with black Turkish flags at the bottom. It basically shows the fronts that were lost during the war and memorating the Gallipoli front which was the only victory by the Ottomans.
  • We tried Kadir’s cheese dessert. The dessert is good, but if you are not a fan of cheese and sugar, you can skip it.


Simply amazing… We love Canakkale, especially the Gallipoli tour. Gallipoli is one of the major scenes of the Great War. Hearing about the heroic Turkish defense at the land and naval wars is pretty emotional for the Turkish people. But, it is also important to understand all these details to learn history and to look to the future.

It would be a bit cliche to end this post with an important sentence generally. We’d remind the important quote from the father of the Turks- Mustafa Kemal Ataturk and star of Gallipoli: “Peace at home, peace in the world”. Of course, we wish that this was never happened but this is a fact, unfortunately. Keep the peace with you and enjoy fantastic Canakkale full of history.


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