Kilitbahir is a village and car ferry port facing the Dardanelles strait on the eastern shore of the Gallipoli peninsula 2.3 kilometers (1.5 miles) south of Eceabat and across from Çanakkale at the narrowest part of the strait.
The village takes its name from the Kilitbahir Fortress (Kilitbahir Kalesi, “Lock on the Sea”) which dominates it. Paired with Çanakkale’s Çimenlik Fortress, often called just “Chanak” in foreign history books, these two fortresses could indeed lock the narrows to the passage of enemy ships, as they did during the 1915 Dardanelles naval campaign.
Today Kilitbahir (kee-LEET-bah-heer) is known mostly for its car ferry dock, launching point for frequent ferry voyages between Kilitbahir and Çanakkale. Larger vehicles prefer the Eceabat dock because of its wider access roads. Smaller vehicles may prefer using Kilitbahir because of the shorter voyage time, 12 to 15 minutes versus 20 to 25 minutes via Eceabat. More…
As you debark from the ferry at Kilitbahir, you’ll see signs pointing left (south) to Abide, the Turkish war monument at the southern tip (Cape Helles) of the peninsula near Sedd-ül Bahir; and right (north) toward Eceabat, Gelibolu, Edirne, Tekirdağ and, eventually, Istanbul.
The Kilitbahir Fortress is part of a more extensive defensive compound, parts of which have been restored and are now used for exhibitions and as museum space. The fortress itself is under restoration, and may be open to visitors during the centennial commemorations for the Gallipoli campaign in 2015.
Otherwise, the village has very few services for travelers, who mostly just pass through, admiring the design of Kilitbahir Fortress from the deck of the ferryboat as it crosses the Dardanelles strait.
Dur Yolcu Inscription
In a cleared field on the hillside above Kilitbahir, an inscription in huge white letters quotes the first two lines of a poem by Necmettin Halil Onan:
Dur Yolcu! Bilmeden gelip bastırdığın
Bu toprak, bir devrin battığı yerdir.
Eğil de kulak ver, bu sessiz yığın
Bir vatan kalbinin attığı yerdir.
Bu ıssız, gölgesiz yolun sonunda
Gördüğün bir tümsek, Anadolu’nda,
İstiklal uğurunda, namus yolunda
Can veren Mehmed’in yattığı yerdir.
Traveler, halt! The earth you, heedless, tread
Witnessed the end of an era.
Stop, listen, hear: in these now-silent hills
There once beat the heart of a nation.
That small mound you saw
At the end of this forsaken, sun-parched road, in Anatolia—
The road to freedom, the road to honor—
Is the resting-place of our soldier who sacrificed all.
—by Tom Brosnahan