The history of the city of Çanakkale

The city of Çanakkale

The core of settlement in the city founded on the shores of the Strait in the Ottoman era was arount the Çimenlik Castle, built in 1462. The fortress, which remains well preserved to this day and now serves as the Naval Museum, had Muslim military personnel, staff and public servants that were appointed to defend the Strait from the fortress, and who established a residential district around the Fatih Mosque called Cami-i Kebir. At the same time the Romanians who had worked on the building of the fortress settled in the Çay (streamlet) district. Following the forming of these two districts, the Greeks who were heavily involved in the shipping sector moved to the town from surrounding areas. They founded the Rum Anatolian Greek) district to the north of Cami-i Kebir. At same time Armenians also moved into the town and settled around the Zafer Meydanı (Victory Square) church area. The marketplace for the city was established to the north of the fortress. As small industries developed on the bank of the Sarçay, artisans settled to the south of the Armenian district and to the east of the Çay district.

Becoming a port city

The town, at the time known as Kale-i Sultaniye, took its current name Çanakkale either from the fortress, whose appearance was reminiscent of a bowl, or from the pottery for which the town became famous. (Çanak in Turkish means bowl) Çanakkale progressed towards becoming a city up to the 18th century, due to the increasing economic importance of the Straits, growing more prosperous as it developed into a port city. As the older districts expanded the Armenians that used to deal with trade began settling in and built in the Jewish district. With the Straits trade and its being a port city foreign governments established consulates in Çanakkale, with the number of diplomatic missions reaching 20 in a short time. They formed the trade missions district on the waterfront. With the decline of the Ottoman in the 19th century, many of the Muslims living on the Aegean islands, the Crimean Peninsula and the Balkans began misrating to the Anatolian mainland. Some of those who found their homelands unsafe moved the Çanakkale, with the Tatar district being founded. At the same time, the city's non-Muslim population, rather than moving, continued to grow and spread, establishing a new Rum district.

And the war...

The unstable political atmosphere at the beginning of the 20th centuy created a quite mixed migration wave. In the process, which stretched over a period 50 years, nearly all of the non-Muslim left Çanakkale, to be replaced by refuuges from the Balkans and the Aegean Islands. As the newcomers moved into te houses that had been abondoned, the pattern of the city did not undergo a mojor change. During Worl War I, Germany and the Austro-Hungarian Empireswere arrayed againist the Allied powers, England, France and Russia. The Ottomans had wanted to either remain neutral or to side with the Allied forces but did not get positive response, pushing the Ottomans closer to Germany. The Ottoman Empire entered the war on the German side after the Turkish fleet, which included two German warships that had nominally been sold to the Ottomans, sailed into the Black Sea and bombarded a number of Russian ports in October 1914. The British and French warships that had pursued the German vessels through the Mediterranean at the beginning of the war before they entered the Dardanelles, had wanted to continue the chase, but were prevented from doing so by the Ottomans. As a result, the Anglo-French fleet blockaded the mouth of the Strait late in 1914. After a series of preliminary bombardments, the Allied fleet tired to force its way through the Strait in March the following year. Ottoman forces stationed on both sides of the waterway defeated the attemp. On April 25, 1915, Allied forces landed on the Gallipoli Peninsula in an effort to clear the Ottoman defences and allow the passage of the fleet. This too ultimately met with defeat, the Allied forces with drawing seven months later. These lands, where both sides suffered heavy losses in this dramatic war, is today a historical national park. You will be able to read more about this region in the chapter dedicated to the national park.

From one war to another

As it is a strategic gateway to the Straits, following the Gallipoli Campaign Çanakkale again became the scene of conflict, being involved in the turkish War of ındependence (1919-1922). In the following years, the city strove to recover and heal its wounds during the early Republican era, but again was affected by conflict, this time World War Two. Even though Turkey was neutral, the government ordered the construction of new fortifications in the Dardanelles region. The years of the war were as diffucult for Çanakkale as for the rest of Turkey.

After the wars

The first city plan for Çanakkale in the post war era was developed in 1949. The Republican Square was modified and the conditions for expansion and building plans for the existing settlements, industry and trade were determined. In the mid 1970s and the first half of 1980s, Çanakkale grew rapidly. However, in so doing, many of the plans were overreached.
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