Sunday, May 5, 2013

Trojan Adventures

While on the Gallipoli Peninsula, we stayed in a wee town called Eceabat. It proved to be a good base - handy to the memorial sites as well as to the city of Çanakkale. We stayed two nights there: one before the ANZAC campout and one after, in two different B&Bs. Both places were just lovely so if you're ever heading that way we'll give you the details! 

Views from our first pansiyon (B&B)
It's obvious that the Campaign in 1915 had a big impact on the Peninsula, and there are reminders of it everywhere. There are gun emplacements dotted over the rolling countryside, particularly around Bulair (north of Gallipoli) and the ANZAC Cove area. On the Asiatic side of the Dardanelles, there is a clearing with a large Turkish flag and the words '18 Mart 1915' - proclaiming the date of the naval victory.
On the other side of the peninsula, above the ancient fort of Kilitbahir, is a clearing with another large flag, a man with a gun next to a flaming cauldron, and words that are meant as a warning to those who want to enter the Dardanelles without permission (the text is from a poem and roughly translates as "Halt Traveller! The soil you tread once witnessed the end of an era")

As well as this, along the seafront at Eceabat there is a new exhibition featuring a 'miniature' (actually quite large!) map of the Peninsula and showing where the memorials and cemeteries are. It is very well-done, and it was quite cool to be able to walk around with that bird's-eye view. There is also a section of life-size statues fighting in the trenches, depicting how close some of the trenches actually were (in some places only a couple of metres separated the Allies from the Turks).

Next to that was a statue to the men who fought. I think I can see Allied hats in that mêlée?


While staying in Eceabat, we decided to cross the Dardanelles and visit Çanakkale (pronounced 'tcha-nak-ar-lay') and Troy. Çanakkale is quite a touristy city - and actually has supermarkets, unlike most of the rest of the Peninsula (confusingly, most of the Gallipoli Peninsula is in the region of Çanakkale, but the town of Çanakkale is located on the Asian side of the Dardanelles) - so we went in and stocked up on items for our ANZAC Cove experience. A couple of tourist buses had also stopped there, and it was quite a sight to see every second face in the large supermarket was white and talking with an Aussie accent. (Most of the remainder had white faces and Kiwi accents!!)

Me on the car ferry
Troy is about half an hour away from Çanakkale, and it was a great day for a drive. Personally, I only knew of Troy from the Trojan Horse connections, but that really is only a bit of the story. The main attraction is actually the historic ruins of the city of Troy. There are nine layers of ruins that have been discovered in excavations, which date the first city of Troy to 3000-2600 BC and the most recent incarnation to the first century BC. In the Bronze Age, Troy was a mercantile city, controlling access to the Dardanelles Strait through which every ship from/to the Black Sea had to pass. Some cities on the site were destroyed by earthquakes or war, but the most recent Troy (Ilium) declined in importance when the Roman Empire established the city of Constantinople. 

There were a few other tour groups there when we visited, and we wished we had our own tour guide as the site was a bit confusing at times and their guides seemed so knowledgeable. Either way, it was great to look around and we found it so amazing to think that only 10% of the site has actually been excavated. Adam and I wanted to get to work with our toothbrushes and trowels right there on the spot and start exposing more of the amazing ruins!
The restored Hippodrome
Adam the Archaeologist
So much more to be discovered under all that grass and dirt

In other news, we saw a Turkish squirrel, jumping over the artefacts like a boss. 

Çanakkale is obviously proud of its Trojan connections, and we saw three good Trojan Horse models around the area. One in Troy itself, one at a cafe on the way to Troy, and one in Çanakkale that was used in the 2004 movie 'Troy' (featuring Brad Pitt). You be the judge - which is the better horse? (And no, you can't vote for the one in the polo shirt!)

We were so glad we took time to explore Eceabat, Çanakkale and Troy. It was good to get a feel for Turkey and understand a bit more about the country's history, and it was also great just to get out in the sun and go exploring somewhere new. 

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