In my time at Canakkale no one had mentioned the seaside village of Kilitbahir. Locals will ask you whether you’ve been to Troy, Gallipoli, Assos, and the islands of Bozcaada and Gokceada. They may even enquire whether you’ve mad the ferry crossing from Canakkale iskele to Eceabat and Kabatepe. But Kilitbahir? No, not a word.
So, stuck in Canakkale city on quiet Saturday morning during bayram holidays, I decided to jump on the ferryboat across the Dardanlles to Eceabat, maybe take an onwards dolmus to Kabatepe. Fifteen minutes later the ferry was docking on European shores. Seemed like a shorter ride than last time (Canakkale-Eceabat is about 30 minutes), and it was. Eceabat looked different today, couldn’t see the clutch of seafront cafes I’d sat at last week.
Blinking in the summer sun, the penny (lira) finally dropped. Wrong boat. When you pay for the ferry boat at Canakkale iskele you can enter the departure area. Which boat you get on seems to be up to you, there is no ticket check.
Google Maps told me I was in a place called Kilitbahir. Looked pretty bleak. Started walking in a northerly direction, nothing there to see. Just the road to Eceabat 5km away, and in 30C sun this wasn’t appealing. Was contemplating whether to grab a taxi to Eceabat or just take the next ferry back to Canakkale. Hovered around the three empty taxis for a couple of minutes waiting for the drivers to appear. Then glanced to the south and saw flickers of life on the horizon, at least a couple of stores and hopefully, a café or two.
Wow! A couple of minutes’ walk and the road curls past the tiny local seafront cami. Lying ahead, a stone archway hugs the road just in front of the imposing 15th century Kilitbahir Castle – built by Ottoman Sultan Mehmet the Conqueror. On the seafront, a tiny harbour houses a handful of local fishing boats. Very pretty. Opposite the harbour a couple of cafes serve fresh seafood from local waters. A plate loaded with delicious sardines, salad and a basket of bread can be had for 20TL (2018), while you sit at this harbour gazing across the blue waters of the Dardanelles.
Kilitbahir Castle is worth a visit. For an entrance fee of 15TL you can stroll around the restored towers, view some artefacts, and enjoy its courtyards and lawns. I’m not much of a history buff, so can’t really rate its cultural worth as a “museum”. But it’s an impressive complex, with great character and visual impact. To sit on the grassy slopes of its grounds, looking across at Canakkale city on the opposite shore and watching the boats pass is relaxing and peaceful.
Just to the side of the Castle entrance a rough road leads up a slight hill to a nearby café with great views and friendly owners. Try the banana and milk dessert called Magnolia there. Delicious.
Why Kilitbahir doesn’t rate a mention with the Canakkale locals, including Tourist Information, I’ve no idea. Just a 15 minute, 2.5 TL ferry hop from the Canakkale seafront for a very serene and picturesque change of scenery. For me, a very pleasant discovery. Kilitbahir by accident – recommended! ?