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F + 3 : Where Agamemnon hid his Fleet

Updated: Aug 19, 2022

After two days of touring, we decided to take it easy today. Last night, we crossed over to Bozcaada or Tenedos as the island is called in Greek. At night, the island is a party place for young Turkish holidayers. We could hear the bum bum of their music and the happy singing from the harbour well past midnight.

Arriving at Bozcaada Harbour with our Tender at 10 am

Tenedos' history goes way back into antiquity. Being close to the mainland, it was the island where Greek King Agamemnon hid his fleet after leaving the Trojan horse outside the walls. Once they had taken the bait and pulled the horse in, his fleet sailed back under the cover of darkness and stormed the town through the opened gates. Wonder how this really worked. To sail back to Troy, the Greek needed the rare South wind exactly the night after the Trojans pulled the horse into town. The story does not stand the test of probability but the Greek had the Gods on their side - problem solved.

The South Side of Tenedos has a rocky Coast but some decent Bays to anchor

Bozcaada today lives from the tourists who holiday on the island and the hundreds of Turkish day-time visitors who come by ferry from the mainland. The island is quiet until about 11 am but then the buzz starts. The 43 square kilometre large island has 2'600 inhabitants. Before 1945, half of them were of Greek origin. But they all left. The island has only one town. Its beautiful southern beaches are easily accessible.

View from the Harbour to the Ottoman Castle built in 1455

Life was probably peaceful and quiet on the island from the time of the Persian Empire (600 BC) to the 4th Crusade (1261 AD) when Byzantium lost control. Both Genoa and Venice then claimed it and fought the War of Chioggia (1378 - 1381) over it. Genova lost after some initial successes and was finished as Mediterranean power. Henceforth it had to ally itself with the Spanish monarchs and become their bankers - not a bad business either.

The golden Mimosa sold in the Market in Bozcaada smell delightfully strong

Two years after Mehmet the Conqueror captured Constantinople, he set eye on the island, invaded it and built a strong artillery fortress in 1455. His castle is now nicely restored and open for visitors for 50 cents. The island became an ideal place for guarding the entrance to the Dardanelles with a few fast galleys which could take shelter under the Fortress' guns.

Entrance to the Ottoman Fortress from the Island

The Ottoman Castle is built on the remains of an old

Phoenician, Greek or Roman fort and temple

During the tour yesterday, our guide Serhad told us that Tenedos was well known for its excellent wines since the time of Pliny the Elder and that a few young and enthusiastic wine makers had taken up the old tradition again. Most grapes though are sold as table grapes for the day-time tourists coming from mainland Turkey. Serhan encouraged us to buy a few bottles of the local red wine - his secret tip was a wine called Corvus, a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon with the local grape Kuntra. Of course we did as we were told

Street Vendors selling Table Grapes. A kilo is 25 TLI

"We can resist anything but temptation". The Quote from Oscar Wild was spot on!

From 1455 to 1913, Tenedos belonged to the Ottoman Empire. But after the Balkan War (1912 -1913) the island became Greek like all other Aegean islands. The modern Greek Battle Cruiser Georgios Averof had single-handedly defeated the Turkish Navy which could neither match the Averof's gun range nor its speed. Whilst Greece was formally neutral during World War I, it allowed the French and the British to assemble the invasion force for the Gallipoli campaign on the island in spring 1915. During the entire campaign, it was the Allied Forces' logistics hub.

French Troops landing in Lemnos, Tenedos' Neighbour Island to the West, in spring 1915

The situation changed again with the defeat of the Greek Army in Anatolia in 1922. France and England recognised that Turkey could not protect the Dardanelles without being in possession of Tenedos. The island was transferred back to Turkey but under the Treaty of Lausanne, the island has an autonomous status to protect the Greek people living here. But frictions between Turks and Greek people were common. The Greek inhabitants left the island. Living in Greece or with the Greek diaspora around the world was more prosperous than staying on the island. They were replaced by Turkish settlers from Anatolia. Bozcaada is Turkish today.

Market with Turkish Honey and Plenty of Dried Spices

Having done our shopping, we returned with 12 bottles of wine, bread and fruits to the Casa dell' Arte. There is no program for this afternoon except to chill and swim. It is too hot. Am sure the Greek soldiers of Agamemnon did the same when waiting for their return to Troy. It is too hot to do anything else.

One of Bozcaada's beautiful bays - the water could not be cleaner and more turquoise

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