At breakfast, we were informed that the day would include a 6-hour busride to Izmir. The day did end up including this 6-hour busride, but the first part of our day involved taking a ferry across the Dardanelles to the Gallipoli peninsula of World War I fame. British and colonial forces attempted to capture Constantinople (it wasn’t Istanbul yet, since the Ottoman Empire hadn’t fallen) and to secure a route that would enable them to relieve their Russian allies, but by the strength, perseverance, and bravery of the Ottoman soldiers from all around the Empire, the enemy forces were defeated. The Gallipoli campaign corresponded to the rise of Ataturk, who rose to military prominence and gained attention as a national hero for his role in the war.
The size of the memorials and the force of the museum we visited were impressive – the museum involved an 11-room video reenactment of the campaign which involved 3D glasses and fake moving ships and simulated explosions. The end of the film was fascinating to watch – it was all about the role Gallipoli played in the following War of Independence led by Ataturk. I had never heard that perspective before, that the “heart of the nation” began to beat at the Gallipoli peninsula, but it’s an interesting addition to the story of the Turkish Republic that I find so fascinating.