Yesterday was my last day in Turkey - I had caught the day bus the day before to Canakkale which is on the coast near the Dardenelles. After 8 hours of windy, bumpy roads, I was very happy to arrive!
In the morning I went to the city of Troy. Now the place we went to certainly has nine levels of civilisation and its location seems to fit the description in Homer's Illiad. However, scholars have argued for years whether or not there actually was a city of Troy as such and whether the Trojan War even happened. Certainly, the legend of the Trojan War was extremely important for Hellenistic culture and the Romans also - it is constantly depicted in art and literature. But the jury is out as to whether or not the battle actually happened, and certainly whether it was over a woman. Now, these guys in Turkey have to make a buck, so all the tour guides speak about the site and the Illiad as if it is history. It's actually been really interesting going along on these tours because I'm a Classical History major at uni so I know my stuff. I learned early on though to not correct these guys when they get something wrong - they don't like it :) But come on, Alexander the Great was not alive after the times of Jesus - a high school student could tell you that!
Anyway, the trip to Troy was cool - some of the ruins of the city (whatever it was called) are over 5,000 years old. The guy who originally started looking for Troy was a German chap called Schliemann, who really was nothing more than a treasure hunter with a smattering of archaeological knowledge. This guy was obsessed with finding the treasure of Priam (Priam was the king of Troy in the Illiad when the Greeks attacked the city). Now he found some jewellery, which he smuggled outside Turkey and his wife wore them at all the parties back in Europe. But the damage that he did to the site while looking for the treasure is terrible. He destroyed buildings from over 3,000 years ago that were still intact and basically just went hacking away at the mountain. Needless to say, Schliemann is not a popular guy among archaeological circles.
There are about 9 levels of history here
Parts of the walls made about 5000 years ago - the wells and altar were made in Roman times.
At the site there is a big wooden horse that you can climb in - I got this shot. Yes, once again the guide had to get a shot.
In the afternoon, we met up with some other Australian travellers and took the ferry across the straight to see Gallipoli. Thousands of Australians go to Turkey each year to see where the Allied campaign took place along the Dardenelles. For those reading who are not Australian, the battle at Gallipoli from April to December 1915 is the most famous military battle in Australian history, and though it was an absolute military tactical failure from the get go, remains an intrinsic part of the Australian culture because of the bravery and comradery that the men showed in this horrific campaign.
We saw a fair few cemeteries and memorials and stopped at Brighton Beach, the intended landing place for the ANZAC troops, and then Anzac Cove, one mile north where they landed instead by mistake. The difference in position is starlting. The terrain at Anzac Cove is basically just a cliff, whereas Brighton Beach would have been a much easier place to gain the high ground from.
The cemeteries are well looked after and actually are very beautiful places. A lot of care goes into maintaining them. We also saw the trenches of both the ANZACs and the Turks. They were literally 8 metres away from each other. It was surreal to stand in the spot right between them. I was walking right where so many men were gunned down as they climbed over the top of the trenches.
2 separate cemeteries
A Turkish trench.
What is left of the windy ANZAC trenches.
I didn't realise this before I went to Turkey, but Mustafa Kemal (later Ataturk, the founder of the Turkish Republic in 1923) was the military commander of the Gallipoli campaign and his leadership lead to the Turkish victory (as well as many military blunders on the Allied side). The Turks today revere Ataturk very much and see him as the father of modern Turkey. I've asked a fair few people here about him and tried to get an objective view by asking innocent questions. No one I've met has anything to say other than he was basically The Man. There is a lot of propaganda surrounding him also, so I wonder how much of an objective idea of him I have been given. I'l have to do a bit more research there...
I left Istanbul early this morning and got to BArcelona around midday. After I had offloaded everything at the hostel I caught the train back in the centre of Barcelona, Placa de Catalunya and went exploring. The main street there, La Rambla, is full of market stalls and people selling all sorts of things, as well as many street performers, so I made my way leisurely around there. I also went to the main fresh produce market, where I had the most amazing cocnut and berry smoothie. And for 2 euros I got a massive container of fruit salad so that was my dinner this evening.
Inside the market hall
I haven't decided yet what I'll do tomorrow - I'll see where the wind takes me.