Burdened with a grim military history, but nonetheless endowed with fine scenery and beaches, the slender Gelibolu (Gallipoli) peninsula – roughly 60km long and from 4km to 18km wide – forms the northwest side of the Dardanelles, the straits that connect the Aegean with the Sea of Marmara. Site of the 1915 Gallipoli landings, the peninsula is scattered with memorials, both Allied and Turkish.

The World War I battlefields and cemeteries are a moving sight, the past violence made all the more poignant by the present beauty of the landscape, which consists of fertile rolling country interspersed with thick scrub and pine forest that’s alive with birds. Much of the flatter land is farmed, and every year ploughing still turns up rusting equipment, fragments of shrapnel, human bones and even unexploded munitions.

The entire area southwest of Eceabat and Kabatepe is a national historical park, which means no camping, picnicking, fire-lighting, foliage-plucking or second-home development beyond the few existing villages. The Allied cemeteries and memorials, built in the early 1920s and mostly designed by Scottish architect Sir John Burnet, replaced and consolidated the makeshift graveyards of 1915. Over half the deceased were never found or identified, however – hence the massive cenotaphs.

The battlefields and cemeteries are also popular with Turkish visitors – up to two million annually – who arrive on massive pilgrimages often organized by municipalities run by the nationalistic-leaning AK Party, especially in May and late September. These religious tourists venerate the Turkish fallen as şehitler, or martyrs for Islam – in pointed contrast to the secularist narrative spun around the eight-month Gallipoli campaign, which made famous a previously unknown lieutenant-colonel, Mustapha Kemal, later Atatürk.

Travel offers; book through Rough Guides

Turkey features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

19 places to get utterly lost

19 places to get utterly lost

One of the great joys of travelling is stumbling across unexpected places, wandering without a single destination in mind and embracing the journey. These place…

12 Sep 2017 • Keith Drew camera_alt Gallery
Budget trips: 20 of the cheapest places to travel

Budget trips: 20 of the cheapest places to travel

1. Thailand There’s a reason why Thailand remains so popular with backpackers – it’s got idyllic islands, a rich culture, beach-huts aplenty, tantalising…

21 Aug 2015 • Emma Gibbs camera_alt Gallery
The film that will inspire your next trip to Turkey

The film that will inspire your next trip to Turkey

The allure of Istanbul is hard to beat. This thrilling city bridges two continents with a history spanning more than 2000 years. And with Istanbul’s Atatürk …

05 Aug 2015 • Eleanor Aldridge videocam Video
View more featureschevron_right

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month