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DARDANELLES

dardanLooking over the Dardanelles from Kilitbahir to ÇanakkaleThe Dardanelles is the stretch of water that connects the Aegean section of the Mediterranean to the Sea of Marmara and thence through the Bosphorus to İstanbul, hence its enormous strategic importance.

Battles have been fought for control of the Dardanelles, not least the Gallipoli Campaign of 1915. It was also here that Xerxes and the Persian army crossed into Europe in 480 BC.

In history the Dardanelles was also known as the Hellespont. Its modern name is derived from that of the ancient settlement of Dardanos on the Asian side.

The strait has always been associated with tragedy. As you gaze out at it, spare a thought for the saga of Hero and Leander, legendary lovers who lived on opposite sides of the Dardanelles. Forbidden to see Hero, Leander would swim across every night to meet her under cover of darkness, using the light from a lamp that she hung out to guide him. Then one night a strong wind blew out the light. Leander lost his way in the dark and was drowned, whereupon Hero threw herself to her death from a tower.

Despite the sad end to this story there are a still surprising number of hardy individuals who want to have a stab at swimming the straits.

Most people get to know the Dardanelles through a stay in Çanakkale which is on the Asian side of the strait facing Eceabat and Kilitbahir on the European side. 

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