Turkey’s newest park is the Underwater Museum of Fourteen Ships that lies beneath the waves of the Dardanelles Strait, a glimpse into the fierce battles between Ottoman and Allied forces in World War I.
Turkish photographer Savas was one of the first to board the Caracas motor boat and then dive on the seaside grave when the park opened on Saturday. There, he says, he was able to be reunited with his grandfather, who had fought in the Gallipoli Campaign of 1915.
“My grandfather’s hands were disfigured and burned in action, and I was always afraid of him,” said Caracas, who lives in Istanbul. After the war whose name is “War”.
“But when I come to Gallipoli and dive, the rusty metal and steel debris reminds me of my grandfather’s hands and I hold his hand underwater.”
The Gallipoli Historic Underwater Park opened 106 years after Ottoman and Allied German forces repelled an invasion by British, French, Australian and New Zealand troops.
Ottoman resistance remains a matter of deep pride in modern Turkey. At the time, this thwarted the Allies’ plan to control the strait connecting the Aegean to the Black Sea, where they had Russian naval allies.
Heavy British losses included the 120-metre HMS Majestic battleship, the first stop for diving at a depth of 24 m off the coast of Seydulbahir.
This and other ships remain largely intact at sea level.
“We are a lucky generation because we … can still visit those monuments,” said Ali Ethem Keskin, another underwater photographer from Istanbul.
“When I started diving… I realized that moment they had sunk, and I felt the tension of the war,” he said. “I felt the panic he felt at the time.”
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