Originally settled around 3000 BC, Çanakkale is the seat of millennia of human history. Although numerous ancient civilizations have occupied the region through the years, the name most commonly associated with its former inhabitants is Hellespont. Noting the strategic location of the city on a map, it should come as no surprise that this area has been heavily contested; it stands just on the seafront, guarding the narrow passage toward the Sea of Marmara and on to İstanbul.
Many visitors arrive in Çanakkale for a sole purpose: to tread in the footsteps of mythical heroes like Achilles and Hector, the warriors of Homer’s Iliad. Çanakkale is the closest modern city to the position of legendary Troy, and you can still make the 30-kilometer trip south to see the ruins left behind by nine destructions and reconstructions. Poorly-executed archaeological digs in the late 19th century caused some damage to the remains, but there’s still a ton left behind to fascinate the visitor, including a section of a wall from Troy IV, the stage in which historians suppose the Trojan War may have taken place.
Çanakkale itself has taken advantage of the booming Trojan War tourism by erecting a massive wooden horse by the harbor. Feel free to climb up the ladders underneath and pretend you’re about to sack a city!
As you would expect from such a historical place, there are several museums for those interested in getting a deeper understanding of Çanakkale’s previous incarnations. The Archaeological Museum on İzmir Caddesi is of particular note; study the prehistoric pottery and relics, nearly all of which were discovered in the surrounding countryside.
How to get to Çanakkale
Çanakkale is well-connected with the rest of Turkey; there are flights from İstanbul three times a week and buses are much more frequent, most of them stopping to let off passengers at the central ferry harbor.