This article has been previously published as a part of book Gallipoli Peninsula and the Troad: TAN Travel Guide by Izabela Miszczak
The ruins of Bigalı Fortress (tr. Bigalı Kalesi) are visible just off the Gelibolu - Eceabat road, about 6 km to the north of Eceabat. Although the Turkish Ministry of Culture inscribed Bigalı Fortress on the list of archaeological sites in 1980, there is no ongoing maintenance, and the structure is falling into disrepair. When you are looking for the information about Bigalı Fortress, you should know that it has several alternative names: Bogali Kalesi, Bokali Kalessi, Bokali Kalessı, and Boğalı Kalesi.
The construction of Bigalı Fortress began in the late 18th century, during the reign of Sultan Selim III, and ended at the beginning of the 19th century, during the reign of Mahmud II. The fortress was founded as an artillery outpost, with the task to protect the Dardanelles Strait from the threat of the British Navy. At the same time, Nara Fortress was built opposite Bigalı Fortress, on the Asian shore of the strait.
Building materials obtained from the nearby ancient Sestos Castle were used for the construction of Bigalı Fortress. Therefore, not much of Sestos Castle has been preserved to our times. Nevertheless, it is worth mentioning the mythological tale of tragic lovers: Hero of Sestos - the priestess of the goddess Aphrodite and Leander from Abydos. Every night, Leander swam across the Dardanelles to his beloved Hero, led by the light of a lamp placed in the window. One night, when the light was extinguished during a storm, Leander got lost in the waters of the Dardanelles and drowned. On hearing the news of his fate, Hero killed herself by jumping from a tower. In 1810, Lord Byron recreated Leander's feat by swimming from Sestos to Abydos, and it took him four hours to complete this challenge.
Although the walls of Bigalı Fortress are relatively well preserved, the access to them is impeded by bushes growing on the grounds of the castle. Brambles can hurt your legs during the exploration of the fortress, so wear long trousers made of solid material. The fortress is unguarded, and there is no need to buy entrance tickets. In 2013, the area of Bigalı Fortress was cleared of undergrowth, so sightseeing was much more pleasant, but nobody knows how long this situation will be maintained.
By car: Bigalı Fortress is located just off D550 route, 6 km north of Eceabat. Its location is marked with a brown signpost Bigalı Kalesi, which is visible only for the travellers coming from the direction of Eceabat.