Where Is the Hellespont?
The Hellespont is the ancient name given to the strait of the Dardanelles which joins the Eastern Mediterranean to the Sea of Marmara. The Sea of Marmara is almost landlocked—except for the Hellespont and the Bosporous which flows into the Black Sea between Russia and Turkey.
The shores of the Hellespont are formed by the peninsula of Gallipoli in Europe on the north bank and by Asia Minor on the south. The Hellespont is only 38 miles long and between three-quarters of a mile and four miles wide. Many famous castles overlook the strait including the Old Castle of Anatolia and the Old Castle of Rumelia. The strait has long been prominent in history. The army of the Persian King Xerxes crossed it by a bridge of boats.
This expedition against the Greeks probably explains the origin of the name Hellespont: “Helles” comes from “Hellenic” or “of the Greeks” and “pont” means “bridge”. During the First World War, the Hellespont was the scene of much fierce fighting.
The Dardanelles, also known from Classical Antiquity as the Hellespont, literally “Sea of Helle”, is a narrow, natural strait and internationally significant waterway in northwestern Turkey that forms part of the continental boundary between Europe and Asia, and separates Asian Turkey from European Turkey. One of the world’s narrowest straits used for international navigation, the Dardanelles connects the Sea of Marmara with the Aegean and Mediterranean Seas, while also allowing passage to the Black Sea by extension via the Bosphorus. The Dardanelles is 61 kilometres (38 mi) long, and 1.2 to 6 kilometres (0.75 to 3.73 mi) wide, averaging 55 metres (180 ft) deep with a maximum depth of 103 metres (338 ft) at its narrowest point abreast the city of Çanakkale.
Most of the northern shores of the strait along the Gallipoli Peninsula (Turkish: Gelibolu) are sparsely settled, while the southern shores along the Troad Peninsula (Turkish: Biga) are inhabited by the city of Çanakkale’s urban population of 110,000.
Together with the Bosphorus, the Dardanelles forms the Turkish Straits. As part of the only passage between the Black Sea and the Mediterranean, the Dardanelles has always been of great importance from a commercial and military point of view, and remains strategically important today. It is a major sea access route for numerous countries, including Russia and Ukraine. Control over it has been an objective of a number of hostilities in modern history, notably the attack of the Allied Powers on the Dardanelles during the 1915 Battle of Gallipoli in the course of World War I.