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Geography and General History of Gallipoli


 

 

        The Gallipoli peninsula (Turkish: Gelibolu Yarımadası) is located in Turkish Thrace, the European part of Turkey, with the Aegean Sea to the west and the Dardanelles straits to the east. Gallipoli derives its name from the Greek Kallipolis , meaning "Beautiful City."
 
        After the devastating 1354 earthquake, the Greek city was almost abandoned, but swiftly reoccupied by Turks from Anatolia, the Asiatic side of the straits, making Gallipoli the first Ottoman possession in Europe, and the staging area for their expansion across the Balkans.

 

 

         The peninsula, which was inhabited by the Byzantine Empire, was gradually conquered by the Ottoman Empire starting from 13th century onwards until the 15th. The Greeks living there were allowed to continue their everyday life. Gallipoli (in Turkish, Gelibolu) was made the chief town of a Kaymakamlik (district) in the vilayet (a Wali's province) of Adrianople, with about 30,000 inhabitants, Greeks, Turks, Armenians and Jews.
 
        Gallipoli became a major encampment for British and French forces in 1854 during the Crimean War, and the harbour was also a stopping-off point on the way to Constantinople.
The peninsula did not see any more wars up until World War I when the British Empire allies trying to find a way to reach its troubled ally in the east, Imperial Russia, decided to try to obtain passage to the east. The Ottomans set up defensive fortifications along the peninsula with German help.
 
        

 

The "Gallipoli War"

 

       The Gallipoli Campaign took place at Gallipoli peninsula in Turkey from 25 April 1915 to 9 January 1916, during the First World War. A joint British Empire and French operation was mounted to capture the Ottoman capital of Constantinople (modern-day Istanbul), and secure a sea route to Russia. The attempt failed, with heavy casualties on both sides.
 
       In Turkey, the campaign is known as the Çanakkale Savaşları, after the province of Çanakkale. In the United Kingdom, it is called the Dardanelles Campaign or Gallipoli. In France it is called Les Dardanelles. In Australia, New Zealand and Newfoundland, it is known as the Gallipoli Campaign or simply as Gallipoli. It is also known as the Battle of Gallipoli.
       The Gallipoli campaign resonated profoundly among all nations involved. In Turkey, the battle is perceived as a defining moment in the history of the Turkish people—a final surge in the defense of the motherland as the centuries-old Ottoman Empire was crumbling. The struggle laid the grounds for the Turkish War of Independence and the foundation of the Turkish Republic eight years later under Atatürk, himself a commander at Gallipoli.
        In Australia and New Zealand, the campaign was the first major battle undertaken by a joint military formation, the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC), and is often considered to mark the birth of national consciousness in both of these countries. Anzac Day (25 April) remains the most significant commemoration of military casualties and veterans in Australia and New Zealand, surpassing Armistice Day/Remembrance Day.

 

 

Monument in mid town Gallipoli depicting the life of Ataturk.The monument was donated by ANZAC veterans.