Turkey // The North Aegean //

Southern peninsula sites

Beyond the rural hamlet of Alçitepe, at the entrance to the southern section of the peninsula, assorted cemeteries, consequences of the landing at Cape Helles, and the huge British Cape Helles Memorial, lie scattered towards Seddülbahir. The views are magnificent, with abundant Ottoman fortifications hinting at the age-old importance of he place. Tucked between the medieval bulwarks is the V Beach of the Allied expedition, behind which lies the biggest of the local British cemeteries.

There’s not much to ALÇITEPE, other than a museum and a few souvenir stands. War graves in the immediate vicinity, however, include the British Pink Farm cemetery, named after the reddish soil on which the site lies, and the Turkish Sargı Yeri cemetery.

The small Salim Mutlu War Museum houses the private collection of the late Salim Mutlu, a local farmer who turned his house into a museum to display objects found in the battlefields by fellow farmers. While slightly amateurish and a bit rustic, the collection affords an insight into the sheer amount of artillery that was let loose during the 1915 battle.

The sleepy village of SEDDÜLBAHİR, at the far southern tip of the peninsula, consists of a few basic pansiyons and restaurants, and an Ottoman-era fortress overlooking a quaint harbour. A fine specimen of Ottoman military architecture from the early modern era, the fortress – like its sister fortress, Kumkale, across the Dardanelles on the opposite shore – was built in 1658 by the mother of Sultan Mehmed IV, Hadice Turhan Sultan.

A southeast turning just before Seddülbahir leads to the striking French Cemetery, above the sandy Morto Bay, with its massive ossuaries, rows of black metal crosses (with North and West African troops disproportionately represented), and memorial to the sailors of the Bouvet, sunk on March 18, 1915. At the end of this road, the 41.7m-high Çanakkale Şehitler Anıtı, or Çanakkale Martyrs’ Memorial, which resembles a stark, four-legged footstool, commemorates all the Ottoman dead.