Gallipoli (Turkish: Gelibolu) is a peninsula locality in north-western Turkey, close to Istanbul. The Gallipoli Peninsula is the site of extensive First World War battlefields and memorials on the north part of the Dardanelles Strait. It is a commemorative site for the Allied (British Empire, France) and Turkish forces who fought, died and were wounded there. The Gallipoli Campaign also known as the Battle of the Dardanelles was very costly for both sides, and casualties and losses amount to 220,000 with a 59% casualty rate for the Allied forces, and 253,000 with a 60% casualty rate for the Turkish forces.
The battle resonated profoundly among some nations involved. In Turkey, the battle is perceived as a defining moment in the history of the Turkish people a final surge in the defence of the motherland as the centuries-old Ottoman Empire was crumbling; and in Australia and New Zealand, the then perceived duty to serve their "Mother Country" Britain, resulted in their military defeat, but their sacrifice and heroism marked the birth of a separate national consciousness in both of these countries.
The Gallipoli peninsula is one of the most sacred sites for the Turkish people, with many monuments such as the Monument of Martyrs erected in the honor of the Turkish soldiers who died in the Battle of the Dardanelles against the Allied forces, whose defeat staved off a potential invasion of Turkey. The victory over the Allies is celebrated on 18 March as Canakkale Zaferi (Canakkale Victory), every year, with tens of thousands of Turks attending the events on the battlefields and memorials.
The area around Anzac Cove is particularly significant for Australians and New Zealanders, whose armies received their baptism in fire on the cliffs there, and carved a fine military reputation under extreme adversity and enourmous loss of life; and this military disaster marked the beginning of a separate Australian and New Zealand nationhood. The 1915 landings and battles are commemorated by Australians and New Zealanders on ANZAC Day, 25 April, every year. At this time especially, Gallipoli becomes a place of pilgrimage for many Aussies and Kiwis who want to honour the memory of their forbears.
There are three main battlefield areas - Cape Helles (Turkish: Seddülbahir), Anzac / Pine Ridge and Suvla Bay (which has fewer places to visit). Depending on how detailed your itinerary is, it would be possible to visit the main sites of interest, particularly around Cape Helles and Anzac/Pine Ridge, in a single day. More realistically, two or three days allows plenty of time for an extensive tour, taking in all the battlefield sites, cemeteries and memorials. Must sees include: The Cannakale Martyrs Memorial (near Cape Helles); The British Memorial at Cape Helles; Anzac Cove; Pine Ridge Australian Memorial; New Zealand Monument, Chunuk Bair; Ataturk Statue, Chunuk Bair.
Aside from the 1915 battlefields, why not visit the new Gelibolu Milli Park visitors centre where there are excellent displays relating to the natural history of the peninsula. You can also visit the ancient fortress of Kilitbahir south of Eceabat or take a ferry across the Straits to Asia; from Canakkale, drive to what is reputed to be the site of Ancient Troy (signposted Troia) about 30 kilometres to the south. The ruins of the legendary city - complete with (reconstructed) wooden horse - are open to the public.
The Gallipoli campaign took place between April and December 1915 in an effort to take the Dardanelles from the Turkish Ottoman Empire (an ally of Germany and Austria) and thus force it out of the war. Some 60,000 Australians and 18,000 New Zealanders were part of a larger British force. Some 26,000 Australians and 7,571 New Zealanders were wounded; and 7,594 Australians and 2,431 NZs were killed. In numerical terms Gallipoli was a minor campaign but it took on considerable national and personal importance to the Australians and New Zealanders who fought there.
The Gallipoli Campaign was Australia's and New Zealand's introduction to the Great War. Many Australians and New Zealanders fought on the Peninsula from the day of the landings (April 25, 1915) until the evacuation of 20 December 1915. The 25th April is the New Zealand equivalent of Armistice Day and is marked as the ANZAC day in both countries with Dawn Parades and other services in every city and town. Shops are closed in the morning. It is a very important day to Australians and New Zealanders for a variety of reasons that have changed and transmuted over the years.
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