Gallipoli is located on the eastern shore of Turkey in the Çanakkale Province. It is now the go-to area for those wanting to visit the Gallipoli Battlefields. The area itself has a vibrant history as the gateway to both the Byzantine and Ottoman Empires, two of the longest-lasting uninterrupted empires in human history. The Dardanelle Strait has been fought over for centuries as it’s the only sea passage between the Black Sea and the Mediterranean. Today it connects modern-day Turkey, Ukraine, Russia, Georgia, Romania and Bulgaria to the Mediterranean.
The Ottoman Empire stood uninterrupted for 624 years (1299-1923). Churchill saw the taking of the Dardanelle Strait as the key to collapsing the Ottoman Empire and ending the First World War. So during 1915-1916, the Gallipoli Campaign was fought, bringing together allied troops from across the world.
The campaign was unsuccessful, and the Ottoman Empire did not fall until the end of the war, which continued for another two years. Casualties of the Gallipoli campaign on both sides were massive; the allies had 187,959 troops killed and wounded and the Turks 161,828. To remember those fallen there are now numerous memorial sites and exhibits in the area.
The Gallipoli Peninsula has a transitional Mediterranean climate with reasonably cold winters and sizzling summers.
Wet season: November to March
Autumn and winter are the rainy seasons in this area of Turkey. The combination of low-lying cloud cover and foggy conditions results in an average of three hours of sunshine per day. Temperatures during this time of year average 11°C during the day.
Dry season: April to December
The rains begin to decrease and the clouds clear up from April meaning that you can look forward to warmer temperatures and more sunshine throughout this period. Temperatures reach anywhere between 17°C and 29°C during the day.
There are just over 200 wrecks in Gallipoli, many of which are in inaccessible areas. This is due to the Dardanelles Strait being a bustling shipping route with strong currents and potentially very challenging conditions. The primary dive sites that you will visit are made up of French and British WWI destroyers, cruisers and Anzac and British lighters. The eerie beauty of these sites is given a whole other dimension after learning more of their history above the surface. The entire experience, from visiting memorial sites to diving WWI wrecks, is one of the most memorable diving experiences you can do as you come face to face with Anzac history.
Currently, Turkish diving authorities enforce a depth restriction on all recreation divers being a maximum depth of 40 metres. For wrecks located deeper than 40 metres, dive permits are required and must be pre-approved before travel.
The water temperature is heavily dependent on the seasons:
June to October: 19°C to 23°C
A 5mm wetsuit is recommended for the warmer months of July and August. Consider a 7mm wetsuit for June, September and October.
November to May: 13°C to 17°C
A 7mm wetsuit is strongly recommended during this time. Wearing a drysuit in February and March would possibly provide you with the most comfortable experience.
There is no strict dive season, although summer provides warmer and calmer conditions.
At the beginning of 1915, this royal navy battleship was dispatched to the Mediterranean Sea for service in the Dardanelles Campaign and supported the Allied landings in Gallipoli as well as engaging in bombarding Turkish forts. The HMS Majestic was torpedoed and sunk in May 1915 lying at a depth between 18-29 metres where you can scope out the crow’s nest and a cannon encrusted with barnacles among other intriguing features.
Sunk by torpedo fire in April 1915, this cargo ship remains mostly intact and is one of the most frequented wrecks in Gallipoli. Located on the seafloor in 27 metres of water, you can look forward to seeing lobsters and other crustaceans scuttling along the ship’s hull. Check out the colony of conger eels that hang out in front of the bridge which are known to get up to one metre in length. Make your way through the hatch and into the hold towards the bow to see schools of bream and goby swimming between iron beams blanketed in pink and yellow sponges.
British and Australian Lighters
A lighter is a flat bottom barge which was used to transport troops and provisions from more substantial ships to their landing points onshore. They were open vessels, approximately 20 metres long and made from sheet iron. Many of them were sunk by gunfire and storms, meaning you have the opportunity to visit a few of these vessels while visiting Turkey.
Visit one of the many historical sites of the Çanakkale Province. There are several WWI sites of interest, including landing sites, memorials, museums and exhibits. A visit to the Trojan horse replica is highly recommended as many archaeologists believe the town of Çanakkale is the actual setting of the legend of Troy. Another exciting site is Kilitbahir Castle, built in 1463 to defend the strait. The area has no shortage of historical points of interest to discover.
There are many beautiful parks and walking trails in the areas that lead you along stunning sections of coastline and beaches. Many of these trails pass through sites of historical significance. Another natural wonder is Cappadocia. Tours can be arranged to include a stay at one of the cave hotels before floating into the sky on a hot air balloon tour above stunning rock formations.
Turkey is one of the most culturally diverse countries in the world, from the bustling markets in Istanbul to winding ancient streets and elaborately carved and decorated mosques monasteries. There are many different cultural tours available to do during your time in Turkey.
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