The commemoration of ANZAC
Day (for Australia
New Zealand Army Corps) on
April 25th is an important event in
Turkey, especially in 2015, which will be the 100th anniversary of the Gallipoli campaign.
Each year more than 10,000 visitors
descend on the towns of Çanakkale, Eceabat and Gelibolu (map) in
the week surrounding that day, packing
local hotels, straining local transport,
and keeping police busy collecting
inebriated celebrants who occasionally
get into brawls.
100th Anniversary in 2015
However, April 25, 2015 could draw as many as 50,000 participants, seriously taxing Çanakkale's ability to host and transport them.
Admission to the dawn ceremonies on April 25th is by special pass only. If you don't already have a pass, chances are you will find it impossible to get one.
Your best option is to visit Gallipoli before or after April 25th.
A visit to the
battlefields can be
a touching experience, but to visit in late April you
should plan far ahead. You'd be well
advised to consider an organized
tour, if only because tour
companies reserve most of the hotel
rooms well in advance. Alternately, you can take
excursion from Istanbul.
Travel, a TurkeyTravelPlanner.com partner, is experienced at making
all ANZAC Day arrangements, including day-excursions from Istanbul. More...
premier event of the commemorations
is a dawn remembrance service attended by
diplomats, high military officers,
descendants of those who fought here,
and thousands of solemn visitors.
Before the release of Peter Weir's
starring Mel Gibson and Mark Lee, the battlefields
of the Gallipoli peninsula were not on Turkey's tourist route.
"Except for the occasional organized
tours not more than half a dozen visitors
arrive from one year's end to the other," wrote
Alan Moorehead in his book Gallipoli (1956).
All that changed drastically after
the film's release in 1981, when the significance of the battles for Australians and New Zealanders was brought to the world's attention, and the losses sustained in battle put into perspective.
Alan Moorehead's book Gallipoli, is the most accessible account of the campaign. Many others, from historical novels and soldiers' diaries to fact-filled technical military histories have been written.
For a more recent, more critical and revised version of events, more technical than Moorehead but still quite readable if you're a history buff, is Robin Prior's Gallipoli: The End of the Myth. Prior, an Australian professor and historian of the military, has tapped many historical sources and records from the countries involved for his new look on the campaign and—from the British Empire's point-of-view—its ultimate failure.
more info on the annual Anzac
Day commemorations and activities (April
24th & 25th), see these websites:
Department of Foreign Affairs and
Department of Veterans' Affairs
Anzac Commemorative Site
—by Tom Brosnahan