Galipoli, not just a movie with Mel Gibson
A comfortable 4 hour bus ride south of Istanbul on the Turkish Mediterranean sits a very famous symbol of Modern Turkey, the WWI battle site of Galipoli. If you don’t know much as WWI, you are not alone. During this time, the Ottoman Empire was essentially an enemy, siding with the Germans. The peninsula of Galipoli represented a waterway the British were anxious to get a hold of to secure a supply line to Russia. If Galipoli fell, so would Istanbul’s former namesake, Constantinople.
The battles here are held in a special place in most Turks hearts as the weathered Ottoman Army was able to stave off the more advanced allies and hold on to the waterway. As a result of the fighting, fissures appeared in Ottoman rule and by 1923 modern Turkey was born. Galipoli is also famous for the hero it produced, the 1st president of Turkey and quite the looker, Kemal Mustafa, or Ataturk(father of the Turks).
This campaign also marks the 1st battles by the Aussie’s and Kiwi contingent and was made into a movie, as all good stories are, called Galipoli and featured a rather dashing young Mel Gibson. I would recommend watching it before heading there. If you do miss, don’t fret as many hotels have copies of it for nightly viewing.
The town of Cannakkale has many references to Anzac. Anzac means Australia New Zealand Army Corp and a subsequent ANZAC Day was created (April 25) to remember those who fell in the Galipoli Campaign as well as anyone in military service.
You can take day or 1-2 day tours from Istanbul or spend a couple days in Cannakkale (delightful city). Tours of the battle sites, trenches, and cemeteries take 4-5 hours and include lunch. I would recommend spending the night in Cannakkale as the ancient city of Troy is a couple km outside of town and worth a look-see.The TreeDepending on who you believe, the story of this tree is an amazing one. Apparently, an ANZAC solider took an acorn/seed of this type of tree and planted it in his garden. It grew and prospered there. Years passed and the family of this solider returned to Turkey to visit the memorials and see where their father/grandfather fought those many years ago. They brought with them the seed/acorn and planted in the picture above. This is the surviving tree that has lived on 2 continents. I am a romantic and loved the story.