The Gallipoli Peninsula is situated in southern East Thrace, which is the European portion of Turkey, and is bordered to by the Aegean Sea and the Dardanelles Strait to the west and east, respectively. The name Gallipoli is an Italian form of a Greek word meaning "beautiful city," which was the historical name of the city now known as Gelibolu. The peninsula runs in a south-west direction for approximately 60 km, towards the Aegean Sea, between the Gulf of Sores and the Dardanelles Strait, which was formerly named Hellespont. The Dardanelles Strait is approximately 45 km long and 2 km wide, and its name was derived from an ancient city in Asia, Dardanus, which was located on the shore of the strait. In antiquity, the Gallipoli Peninsula was protected by the Long Wall, which was a structure built near the ancient city of Agora.
History of the Peninsula
The Gallipoli Peninsula was known as the Thracian Chersonesus by the ancient Greeks and Romans, and prominent towns located along the peninsula included Pactya, Cardia, Callipolis, and Madytos. The Gallipoli Peninsula was known for its wheat and was strategically located on the main route between Asia and Europe. Before Greek colonization, the peninsula was ruled by the Thracian tribe of Dolonci. In approximately the 7th BC, settlers from Ancient Greece founded 12 cities along the peninsula, and an Athenian colony was founded in 560 BC. Miltiades the Elder, who was an Athenian statesman, took control of the entire peninsula and built defenses to protect against attacks from the mainland. Miltiades the Younger, nephew of Miltiades the Elder, took control of the peninsula in 524 BC, and it was later seized by the Persians in 493 BC following the Greco-Persian Wars. After the expulsion of the Persians, Athens ruled the peninsula for a period of time and established a number of colonies called cleruchies. In approximately 330 AD, the peninsula became part of the Eastern Roman Empire.
The peninsula experienced an earthquake in 1354 that destroyed the town of Gallipoli, and it was then captured by the Ottomans, becoming the first Ottoman stronghold in Europe. It was briefly recaptured by the Byzantines, who were forced to return it to the Ottomans in 1376. In the 19th century, Gallipoli became a district in the Vilayet of Adrianople, which was an administrative division of the Ottoman Empire. From 1853 to 1856, the peninsula was a major encampment for the French and British during the Crimean War, and the two forces constructed an 11.5 km long defense line to protect the peninsula from potential Russian attacks.
The Gallipoli Campaign
The Gallipoli Peninsula was the site of a significant battle during the First World War, popularly known as the Gallipoli Campaign. in 1915, French and British forces invaded the peninsula in an attempt to secure a supply route to Russia. The Allied Forces attempted to gain control of the Dardanelles Strait and to capture the capital of the Ottoman Empire, Constantinople. However, the invasion was called off after eight months and 250,000 deaths, and was considered a great Ottoman victory, as well as a costly defeat for the Allied forces. Additionally, the Gallipoli Campaign is also regarded as one of the defining moments in Turkey’s national history, as it formed the basis of the Turkish War of Independence and the subsequent founding of the Republic of Turkey. During the Greco-Turkish War, which lasted from 1919 until 1922, the peninsula was occupied by Greece. From 1923 to 1926, the region became the center of Turkey's Gallipoli Province, and later became a district center in Çanakkale Province.