Canakkale History & Culture

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Canakkale Abide Memorial, Suvla Bay.
When you reach the Gallipoli Peninsula you can feel the spirit of the heroes from centuries ago. Today the Gallipoli region is a national park, which acts as an open air museum & is open to all visitors who come to pay their respects at different memorials but on the same soil…

Dardanelles & Hellespont
Dardanelles & Hellespont are the old names of what is now Canakkale. The word Dardanelles comes from Dardanos, a mythical ancestor of one of the survivors of Troy. Canakkale’s other ancient name, Hellespont, also comes from mythology. According to the mythological story of the “Golden Fleece”, that was intensely used by ancient writers, the region was named after means Helle, who legend says fell into the waters of the Strait & drowned while riding on a flying ram with a golden fleece when she & her brother were fleeing to the Black Sea city of Colchis. Apart from its being on a crossing point between two continents, Canakkale attracted the attention of the Eastern Roman Empire, later to become the Byzantine Empire; the Mediterranean countries for trading with the Black Sea, famous for its fish, & the Black Sea countries for whom the Bosphorus & the Dardanelles were the only opening from their inland sea to the world. At times in history, armies from one continent crossed to the other by building bridges of boats or bridges supported by buoys. Though there have been no specific find from Dardanos it is believed that its history goes further back than that of Troy. While the history of Troy I, discovered after excavations that were carried out over a period of years, goes back to 3000 BC, the earliest known settlement in the region has been dated to more than 5000 years ago. The city of Troy that was founded in 3000 BC was destroyed by an earthquake 500 years later. Troy, which was to re-established & destroyed many times after that, founded a great civilization.

Canakkale has seen this & other civilisations rule the region at different times. In 500 BC, it was the Persians that flooded over all of Anatolia. In 386 BC, with the “Peace of Kings” between the Persians & the Spartans, Persian sovereignty in the region was reinforced. The Persian King Xerxes build a bridge of ships & buoys across the Strait in order to cross into Greece & Macedonia, passing his army over the Strait from Abydos to Sestos. Persian rule in the region was destroyed with the defeat inflicted by the Macedonian King Alexander the Great on the Persian army at the battle of Granicas (the Biga stream) in 334 BC. Shortly after the death of Alexander, there were conflicts between the Macedonian commanders over control of the region. Under the rule of the Pergamum Kingdom the region was renamed Galat. It gained importance during the times of the Roman & Byzantine Empires. The first territory seized by the Ottomans in the region was the town of Gelibolu. It was only later that full Ottoman sovereignty over the region was attained.

Canakkale ceramics
One of the suggestions is that the name Canakkale came from long ago due to the tradition of pottery & ceramics in the region, ‘Canak’ meaning pot in Turkish. From the end of the 17th century to the first quarter of the 19th the type of ceramics produced in Canakkale had very different characteristics to those tiles & ceramics of Iznik or Kutahya.

The interest in Canakkale ceramics by the museums & the collectors has increased in the recent years. In these ceramics a reddish clay or more rarely a cream coloured one is used. At the end of the 17th & early 18th centuries examples of more deep bowls, plates & large post were produced. The designs on them were painted with a non-colourful green or cream coloured almost transparent glaze. The colours applied under the coating are mostly a purplish dark brown, orange, yellow, dark blue & white. There was a decrease in the quality in the 19th & early 20th centuries in Çanakkale ceramics. The best collection of the Canakkale ceramics is by Suna-Ä°nan Kirac displayed at the Kaleici museum in Antalya.

Turk – Islam works
Gelibolu is rich in respect of Turkish & Islam works. Near to the Astsubay Orduevi (Non-Commissioned Officers House) there is the grave of Bayrakli (Flag) Dede who was the standard bearer for Suleyman Pasha. From the 14th century onward people came to visit his grave & to hang flags on it. This is why he is known as “Bayrakli Dede” (Dede means a religious figure). The mosque known as the Suleyman Pasha or Buyuk Cami was built in 1358. It was repaired in 1676 & 1889. It has a rectangular plan, stone walls & three entrance doors. There are many türbes (tombs) such as that of Bayraklı Dede. The main ones are those of Ahmet Bican, Mehmet Bican, Hallacı Mansur, Kalafat Mehmed Pasha, Emir Ali Pasha & his son in law Sinan Pasha. The Gelibolu Mevlevihanesi is especially worth seeing, having been built in 1656 by the followers of the symbol of tolerance in sufism, the Mevlana. The restoration work on this impressive building will be completed by the end of 2004. This building, which is located in the grounds of the Military Hospital is the largest second Tekke (Dervish lodge) in Turkey. It had supplementary buildings that have not survived. It used to host 80 poor people with its school, han & refectory. The area where the Dervish sema ceremony (the whirling dance of the Dervishes) is at times performed can cater to 1000 spectators

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