Thursday, October 3, 2013

Visiting Canakkale

After our week on the island of Gokceada, we headed south to the harbor town of Canakkale, gateway to the Troy ruins and the Gallipoli battlefields. I hadn't stopped there on my original backpacking tour of Turkey because there's not a lot to see and do in town, but I thought Canakkale was AMAZING.

I suppose too, at this point, I have different standards now when we visit Turkish cities -- instead of focusing solely on the touristic attractions, the question always at the forefront of my brain is, could I live here? Because I really do love Turkey, I just never particularly enjoyed living in Istanbul, the city being so chaotic and impersonal and aggressive. But Canakkale, oh Canakkale...we could totally live there. It's a large enough city that you could likely find work -- which is the main issue with living in Kas, my favorite Turkish town -- but small enough that its residents still seemed to be embracing a more laid-back, pleasures-of-life lifestyle. Plus, you could actually cross the road without taking your life into your hands!

After settling into the hotel, we headed to Canakkale's archaeological museum on the outskirts of town. We ran into a woman who told us it was the greatest museum she'd ever been to, but I found it a little disappointing. It was fairly small, and like a lot of Turkey's museums, the exhibits were poorly labeled, so you rarely knew what you were looking at. It's not a must-see by any means, but I did find these ancient safety pins from the Troy archaeological site to be pretty cool:

The Canakkale museum also had a couple of gold laurel wreaths on display. The tag said they were from the Dardanos Tumulus and dated to the 4th century BC. It's kind of amazing that something so delicate survived, isn't it?

Later in the afternoon, we wandered around the harbor area. Our first stop was the Trojan Horse set piece that was used in the Brad Pitt Troy movie. According to, Troy was filmed mainly in Malta (and not at all in Turkey), so I'm not sure how the horse ended up in Canakkale, but according to the sign, it's lived at the harbor since September 2004. It's impressively intricate, no?

A little further down, as we strolled along the deliciously wide waterfront (further proof of the pleasures-of-life lifestyle -- space for everyone!), we came across a large mosaic inlaid in the cement that depicted a section of the Piri Reis map. Piri Reis was a late-15th century/early-16th century Ottoman admiral and cartographer, likely born in Canakkale, who is best known today for his book of navigation and a specific 1513 map on gazelle skin that is the oldest (one of the oldest?) to show the Americas. UNESCO declared 2013 the Year of Piri Reis, coinciding with the 500th anniversary of the map, so Piri Reis has become a fairly popular figure in Istanbul this year. (I am still completely gutted that I missed the exhibition of the map earlier this year at Topkapi Palace, since they almost never bring it out for display. Like, I think I read it hadn't been out in like 15 years.)

After sitting and enjoying the sunset, we wandered by the 1897-built clock tower at the other end of the harbor...

And we ended up finding the Nusret minelaying ship from World War I. Cagatay was pretty excited (I'd only heard about it like a month before), but it turns out that the Nusret ship in Canakkale is only a replica of the 1915 ship (which I found out today). The Nusret was a vital part of the Ottoman victory during the Gallipoli campaign, halting the British and French from moving up the Dardanelles and forcing them to land on the Gallipoli peninsula.

We ended our evening with food. We weren't terribly hungry, so first we sampled Canakkale's famous cheese dessert, peynir helvasi, at Husmenoglu. I've always been a little wary of Turkish desserts and their ingredients (cheese, really?), but this one was pretty awesome. (The photo is from Cagatay's Instagram feed -- check him out!)

Then we went to the nearby McDonalds for a snack and enjoyed the amazing view from the rooftop terrace. A McDonalds with a serene rooftop terrace...see, another one of Canakkale's pleasures-of-life thing. :)

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1 comment:

  1. Glad you liked Canakkale. We live here so its nice to see that others see it as an alternative to the more popular Turkish destinations.


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