All images © by Roberto Piperno, owner of the domain. Write to firstname.lastname@example.org. Text edited by Rosamie Moore.
Page added in July 2006.
Sultan Mehmet II conquered Constantinople in 1453
and soon after developed plans to defend the new capital of his empire. There was little to worry about a possible attack
from the Bosphorus. Genoa, notwithstanding its neutrality during the siege of Constantinople, had to agree
to dismantle its fortifications in Galata. Apart from a
few Genoese colonies at Amastri and Sinope
and the small Byzantine Empire of Trebizond, the Black Sea was an Ottoman possession.
Mehmet was worried about a possible attack following the pattern of the 1204 Fourth Crusade. On that occasion a powerful Venetian fleet had supported the crusaders who laid siege and eventually conquered Constantinople.
Venice directly controlled the largest islands of the Aegean Sea (Crete and Negroponte) and (through Venetian families) the Duchy of Nasso, which included most of the small islands.
In 1454 Mehmet, in order to gain time and to avoid an immediate confrontation, signed a trade agreement with Venice which granted to the republic very favourable terms.
Mehmet took advantage of having pleased the Venetians to consolidate his power by seizing between 1454 and 1461 the despotate of MistrÓ, the last Byzantine possession, as well as the Genoese colonies in the Black Sea and the Empire of Trebizond.
The expansion of the Ottomans in Europe led Pope Pius II to put pressure on the Christian nations to join forces to free Constantinople. The Venetians feared that the sultan might reach the Adriatic Sea by conquering Albania and in 1462 they indirectly supported the rebellion of Scanderbeg, an Albanian warlord. Both sides knew that war was inevitable. Mehmet decided to build two fortresses at the entrance to the Dardanelles, the long strait between the Aegean Sea and the Sea of Marmara. The fortress on the Asian coast was named Kale Sultanieh (Sultan's Castle), but it is known by the less emphatic name of Canakkale (Castle of the vases/of pottery) because the nearby small town had a reputation for fine ceramics (the castle itself is today known as Cimenlik Kalesi).
The fortress is still a possession of the Turkish Navy and access to some sections of it is forbidden. Its walls had a quadrangular shape: a large round tower protected the main entrance. A small castle inside the walls served as residence for the officers and provided an opportunity for a last resistance.
A section of Kale Sultanieh is open to the public: not the usual rather limited public interested in old stones, but very enthusiast visitors who receive detailed lectures on the events which occurred in the area in 1915.
A plan to seize the Dardanelles was developed by Winston Churchill, First Lord of the Admiralty. It was approved in January 1915 by the British and French cabinets and in February of that same year an Anglo-French task force bombarded the Ottoman forts. It was the beginning of the Gallipoli campaign, named after the long peninsula which constitutes the European side of the Dardanelles. That campaign is regarded by Turkish historians as the very beginning of their country's redemption after the long decline of the Ottoman Empire. The hill opposite Kale Sultanieh is decorated with a gigantic image of a Turkish soldier and with the first words of a poem by Necmettin Halil Onan dedicated to those who fell:
The soil you tread
witnessed the end of an era.
Fortresses of the Sultans - Introduction
Fortresses built before 1453:
1 - Anadolu Hisar
2 - Rumeli Hisar
Fortresses built after 1453 and before 1657:
3 - Kale Sultanieh
4 - Kilitbahir
Fortresses built after 1657:
5 - Seddulbahir
6 - Imbro
7 - Tenedo
Clickable Map of the Ionian and Aegean Seas with links to other locations covered in this website (opens in a separate window)