Troy Culture Road Festival revives Çanakkale, land of myths, heroes


Spread the word. The Troy Culture Road Festival, part of Türkiye Ministry of Culture and Tourism’s Culture Road project to revitalize cultural heritage, began on Friday with the participation of Culture Minister Nuri Ersoy, Deputy Culture Minister Özgül Özkan Yavuz and the faction of the Justice and Justice Party Development (AK Party). Deputy Chairman Bülent Turan as well as domestic and foreign press representatives. The cultural festival, which highlights the rich texture of Çanakkale in terms of architectural and historical heritage, lasts until September 25th.

Representing a collection of thousands of memories, documents and works, this cultural festival is an unprecedented cultural movement in the world, reviving the city’s memories from ancient times to the present day. The city’s iconic locations and outlandishly unusual museums and exhibitions are central to the route’s 30 different destinations, and I was fortunate enough to be part of the first two-day programme. All the stations are very valuable and worth seeing, like the ancient sites and the historical underwater park of Gallipoli.

Troy Culture Road Festival launched under the culture road project of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of Türkiye to revitalize cultural heritage, Çanakkale, Türkiye, Sept. 17, 2022. (DHA Photo)

Culture and Tourism Minister Mehmet Nuri Ersoy (C) visiting Mustafa Tunçalp (L)

Those who have had the opportunity to travel to Çanakkale should definitely be a part of this unique cultural movement for insight into human history.

Exhibition of nautical charts

The first destination of the program, the Nautical Chart Exhibition, showcases historical charts ranging from “Kitab-ı Bahriye” by the pioneering geographer and cartographer Piri Reis to charts created in the early years of the Turkish Republic. With the participation of Minister Ersoy and accompanied by naval officers, it was opened to the public and engraved in the city’s memory as a constant witness to history. While the maps, drawn from observations of the moon’s movement and the angular distances of the stars, intrigue visitors, the hyper-real sculpture by Piri Reis recreates the prominent figure in flesh and blood.

Canakkale Battles Research Center

The center opened on the first day of the Culture Route with the participation of Ersoy, the former coastal medical building and then used as a mansion, embodies a large archive detailing the battles of Çanakkale, opening dusty pages with documents in five languages, namely , Ottoman Turkish, Turkish, English, French and German.

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This center was set up to identify and provide rich, written, visual and audio information and documents to make them accessible to researchers in an integrated way with foreign sources. The center also contains the journal of Col. George Talbot, who commanded HMS Majestic, a pre-dreadnought battleship added to the naval fleet as it could easily pass the Dardanelles and reach Istanbul. It now lies at a depth of 18 to 23 meters (59 to 76 ft) offshore near Seddülbahir.

The posters calling for men to fight in the Dardanelles are also worth seeing to give a full understanding of the great wars.

Anadolu Hamidiye Bastion

The Anatolian Hamidiye Bastion, built in 1892 by Sultan Abdulhamid II to ensure the security of the Dardanelles and was one of the bastions where the hot conflict in the 1915 Gallipoli campaign took place, hosts art exhibitions as part of the Cultural Route.

Mustafa Tunçalp’s Life Shaped by Soil exhibition is one of the must-see attractions as it pays homage to the Battle of Çanakkale. “It’s an honor for me to be in such a historic place,” said Tunçalp. The installations mourning the fallen of war with dark human shadows and figures are also adorned with bird figures. While the bird draws attention to the artist’s emphasis on freedom, it is also a symbolic starting point for his artistic work.

Hyperreal statue of Piri Reis in Sea Charts exhibition during Troy Culture Road Festival under Culture Road Project of Ministry of Culture and Tourism of Türkiye, Çanakkale, Türkiye, September 16, 2022. (IHA Photo)

On the open-air stage stood the dance group “Fire of Anatolia”, a unique dance project reflecting the ancient mythological and cultural history of Anatolia, produced by Mustafa Erdoğan. The performance drew a large crowd, and there was no space left along the shore of the bastion. Prepared at the request of Rüstem Aslan, who is also the head of the excavations of the archaeological site of Troy, the performance “Troy” mesmerized the audience and took the stage for the first time in their homeland of Çanakkale, where the story was born.

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On the second day, “3 Tenors”, the State Opera singers Murat Karahan, Efe Kışlalı and Levent Gündüz, took the stage, accompanied by the Mersin State Opera and Ballet Orchestra and the accomplished conductor Serdar Yalçın, who ranged from Neapolitan to classical opera arias to Turkish folk songs . The works performed by the orchestra and soloists in the program received enthusiastic applause from art lovers.

Art exhibition in Çanakkale

The “Silkworm Cocoon in Handled by Silky Hands” exhibition, organized by the provincial representative of the Women and Democracy Association (KADEM) as part of the Troy Cultural Road Festival, featured works made from natural silk cocoons and lace ornaments dyed with nature elements such as tea and coffee. Since the works come from women’s dowries, the exhibition has great spiritual value and also emphasizes concepts such as zero-waste and sustainability.

Aynalı Çarşı (Mirrored Bazaar)

Aynalı Çarşı is a covered market filled with shops from end to end. It is one of the bazaars built by the Jewish merchant Ilya Halyo in 1890 with the permission of Abdulhamid II. The bazaar is also mentioned in one of the Turkish folk songs and reveals the great war tragedy in Çanakkale that happened between 1915 and 1918.

This place of emotion and history witnessed a flash mob performed by the artists of Mersin State Opera and Ballet covering Turkish folk song as the Deputy Minister walked through the bazaar and the tones of the song echoed over the walls of this historical bazaar.

Exhibition at the Old Armenian Church as part of the Troy Culture Road Festival under the Culture Road Project of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of Türkiye, Çanakkale, Türkiye, Sept. 17, 2022. (AA Photo)

Fire of Anatolia performs at Troy Culture Road Festival as part of culture road project of Turkiye Ministry of Culture and Tourism Çanakkale, Turkiye, Sept. 16, 2022. (AA Photo)

Museum exhibition in the old church

The foundations of the Troy Museum were laid in the Armenian Church in Canakkale’s Victory Square. About 4,000 relics were found in and around the church and are now on display in the museum. The museum’s displays feature documents and photographs, as well as the church’s most recent donor, who was a fifth-grade student named Necdet in the 1900s. It also tells the story of the “Breaking Glass Incident” when a Jewish neighbor’s son threw a stone through the church window and his father refused to pay the amount.

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The acoustics of the place are great in terms of choral performances and concerts. In this sense, there will be various concerts during the festival, and the most important of them will undoubtedly be the “Language of Beliefs” concert, which will include the sounds of three monotheistic religions.

Mahal art

The Art Exhibition of the Winged Words Layers Special Project is perhaps the most interesting destination on the Culture Trail, as for the first time archaeologists who worked on the excavation of the historical site of Troy have contributed to the creation of an exhibition. Combining artistic creation with archaeological investigation, the exhibition features 11 different artists who have used a variety of mediums such as installation, documentary, painting and video.

Most of the time, when we visit museums, we don’t think about what or who makes them special. In fact, archaeologists are the architects of these vast cultural centers. In the search for the human condition, archeology and art open up a space in which the boundaries between science and craftsmanship become blurred.

In this context, one of the installations in the exhibition takes you into a world where you can interactively create your own Troy. The silhouette photographs, which show “the most common body shapes”, revive the memory of the city and the intangible work behind the scenes and lead the viewer to historical reckoning.

On the other side is Helin Boztepe’s “Sandland”, an installation of a suitcase filled with archival archaeological documents and sand to refer to the devotion of mind, body and future “in what you dig”.

Exhibition at the Old Armenian Church as part of the Troy Culture Road Festival under the Culture Road Project of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of Türkiye, Çanakkale, Türkiye, Sept. 17, 2022. (AA Photo)

Exhibition at the Old Armenian Church as part of the Troy Culture Road Festival under the Culture Road Project of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of Türkiye, Çanakkale, Türkiye, Sept. 17, 2022. (AA Photo)

I’m reading Iliad today.

Besides the Troy legend of Homeros, the Troy Museum, which reveals all the riches of human history 5,000 years ago and although it is one of the youngest museums in Türkiye, managed to make an international impression and was deemed worthy of an award. It hosts several exhibitions, most notably Alparsan Baloğlu’s “Troya”, as part of the Culture Route.

Baloğlu’s installations, composed of aphorisms, establish a historical link between the present and the past, through a lightning ball in which to greet Zeus, or horseshoe tracks in bare earth as a nod to the Trojan horse.

The first installation with the aphorism “Were Zeus and the others both aftermath, the reason and epithet of uttering a justification?” consists of rats placed on earth and refers to a story in Homer’s “Iliad”. Accordingly, the daughter of Apollo’s priest was kidnapped by the commander Agamemnon. After wishing for his daughter’s return from Apollo, the sun god sent the plague to Agamemnon’s army with many rodents, resulting in Apollo being dubbed the “Lord of the Mice”.



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