The Dardanelles (Turkish: Çanakkale Boğazı, Greek: Δαρδανέλλια, Dardanellia), formerly known as the Hellespont (Greek: Ελλήσποντος, Hellespontos), is a narrow strait in northwestern Turkey connecting the Aegean Sea to the Sea of Marmara. It is one of the Turkish Straits, along with its counterpart the Bosporus. It is located at approximately . The strait is 61 kilometres (38 mi) long but only 1.2 to 6 kilometres (0.75 to 4 mi) wide, averaging 55 metres (180 ft) deep with a maximum depth of 82 metres (300 ft). Water flows in both directions along the strait, from the Sea of Marmara to the Aegean via a surface current and in the opposite direction via an undercurrent.
Like the Bosporus, it separates Europe (the Gallipoli peninsula) from the mainland of Asia. The strait is an International waterway, and together with the Bosporus, the Dardanelles connects the Black Sea to the Mediterranean Sea.
The Turkish name Çanakkale Boğazı is derived from the major city adjoining the strait, Çanakkale (which takes its name from its famous castles; kale means "castle"). The name Dardanelles derives from Dardania, an ancient land on the Asian shore of the strait.
A suspension bridge project has been planned, Connecting Saricay & Kilitbahir.
The strait has always played a strategic role in history.
The ancient city of Troy was located near the western entrance of the strait and the strait's Asiatic shore was the focus of the Trojan War. It was also the scene of the legendary Greek story of Hero and Leander. The Persian army of Xerxes I and later the Greek army of Alexander the Great crossed the Dardanelles in opposite directions to invade each other's lands, in 480 BC and 334 BC respectively.
Also, the Dardanelles was an important source of income for the ruler of the region. At the Istanbul Archaeological Museum a marble plate contains a law by the Byzantine Emperor Anastasius I (491-518 AD), that regulated fees for passage through the customs office of the Dardanelles (see image to the right). Translation:
"... Whoever dares to violate these regulations shall no longer
be regarded as a friend, and he shall be punished. Besides, the
administrator of the Dardanelles must have the right to receive 50
golden Litrons, so that these rules, which we make out of piety,
shall never ever be violated... ... The distinguished governor and
major of the capital, who already has both hands full of things to
do, has turned to our lofty piety in order to reorganize the entry
and exit of all ships through the Dardanelles... ... Starting from
our day and also in the future, anybody who wants to pass through
the Dardanelles must pay the following:
- All wine merchants who bring wine to the capital (Constantinopolis), except Cilicians, have to pay the Dardanelles officials 6 follis and 2 sextarius of wine.
- In the same manner, all merchants of olive-oil, vegetables and lard must pay the Dardanelles officials 6 follis. Cilician sea-merchants have to pay 3 follis and in addition to that, 1 keration (12 follis) to enter, and 2 keration to exit.
- All wheat merchants have to pay the officials 3 follis per modius, and a further sum of 3 follis when leaving."
Since the 14th century the Dardanelles have almost continuously been controlled by the Turks.
Gaining control or special access to the strait became a key foreign policy goal of the Russian Empire during the 19th century. During the Napoleonic Wars, Russia—supported by Great Britain in the Dardanelles Operation—blockaded the straits in 1807. Following the Ottoman Empire's defeat in the Russo-Turkish War of 1828–29, in 1833 Russia pressured Turkey to sign the Treaty of Hunkiar Iskelesi—which required the straits to be closed to warships of non-Black Sea powers at Russia's request. That would have effectively given Russia a free hand in the Black Sea.
That treaty alarmed the losers, who were concerned that the consequences of potential Russian expansionism in the Black Sea and Mediterranean regions could conflict with their own possessions and economic interest in the regions. At the London Straits Convention in July 1841, the United Kingdom, France, Austria, and Prussia pressured Russia to agree that only Turkish warships could traverse the Dardanelles in peacetime. The United Kingdom and France subsequently sent their fleets through the straits to attack Crimea during the Crimean War in 1853—but this was done as allies of the Ottoman Empire. That convention was formally reaffirmed by the Congress of Paris in 1856, following the Russian defeat in the Crimean War. It remained technically in force into the 20th and 21st centuries.
In 1915, the western Allies sent a massive invasion force of British, Indian, Australian, and New Zealander troops to attempt to open up the strait. At the Gallipoli campaign, Turkish troops trapped the Allies on the beaches of the Gallipoli peninsula. The campaign results did damage the career of Sir Winston Churchill, then the First Lord of the Admiralty, who eagerly promoted the use of Royal Navy sea power to force open the straits.
The straits were mined by the Turks to prevent Allied ships from penetrating them, but in minor actions, two submarines, one British and one Australian, did succeed in penetrating the minefields. The British one sank an obsolete Turkish pre-dreadnought battleship off the Golden Horn of Istanbul. Sir Ian Hamilton's Mediterranean Expeditionary Force was unsuccessful in its attempt to capture the Gallipoli peninsula, and its withdrawal was ordered in January 1916, after 10 months fighting and more than 200,000 casualties.
Following the war, the 1920 Treaty of Sèvres demilitarized the strait and made it an international territory under the control of the League of Nations. This was amended under the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne which restored the straits to Turkey but allowed all foreign warships to traverse the straits freely. Turkey rejected the terms of this treaty and subsequently remilitarized the area. The reversion to this old regime was formalized under the Montreux Convention of July 1936. The convention, which is still technically in force today, treats the straits as an international shipping lane, but Turkey retains the right to restrict the naval traffic of non-Black Sea nations (like Greece or Algeria).
During World War II, through February 1945, when Turkey was neutral for most of the length of the conflict, the Dardanelles were closed to the ships of the belligerent nations. Turkey declared war on Germany in February 1945, but it did not employ any offensive forces in that war.
I have sailed the world, beheld its wonders
From the Dardanelles to the mountains of Peru.
There is more than one meaning of Dardanelles discussed in the 1911 Encyclopedia. We are planning to let all links go to the correct meaning directly, but for now you will have to search it out from the list below by yourself. If you want to change the link that led you here yourself, it would be appreciated.