While it is usually rammed with Australian and Kiwi pilgrims, a journey to Gallipoli for the dawn service on April 25 is a moving experience. If you’re planning on visiting the site around Anzac Day, the most important thing you can pack is patience. The influx of thousands of travellers within a 24-hour period can stretch the small and fragile peninsula to the limit. Be prepared for traffic jams involving hundreds of buses and a long, uncomfortable night in the lead up to the Dawn Service. As soon as the sun rises, however, the palpable atmosphere of pride, respect and sorrow is a memorable one. Note that to attend the Gallipoli Anzac Day services, you must be with a registered travel company. For tips on visiting on Anzac Day read Footsteps of the Fallen and New Meaning.
Major sites include Anzac Cove, where the mainly Australian force first landed on April 25, 1915 , plus notable battlegrounds such as Lone Pine, Chunuk Bair and The Nek. Almost 100,000 soldiers died during the nine-month campaign, including 7,594 Australians, 2,701 New Zealanders and 55,801 Turks. The Gallipoli Peninsula is still littered with bullet cartridges and bones are often still unearthed during rain.
If you reach the Peninsula via the ferry from Çanakkale, you’ll see just how narrow the Dardenelles, the body of water leading to the Sea of Marmara, is, and why a land-based attack was needed if the Allies were to take Istanbul. However, one look at the inhospitable landscape surrounding Anzac Cove shows how difficult the Allies’ task at Gallipoli was.
Gallipoli Simulation Centre
Here you can see relics from the battle including soldier’s equipment, artillery and heart-felt letters from those who were in the trenches. It’s well worth a visit because it helps provide a better understanding of the area.
Open: 9.30am-11am and 1.30pm-5pm
Ataturk’s famous words
At Anzac Cove a famous plaque quotes the words of Turkish national hero and the country’s founder, Ataturk, reads:
“There is no difference between the Johnnies and the Mehmets to us where they lay side by side, here in this country of ours…
You, the mothers, who sent their sons from far away countries, wipe away your tears;
Your sons are now lying in our bosom and are in peace.
After having lost their lives on this land they have become our sons as well”