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Turkish tourists follow traces of Atatürk in Balkans

THESSALONICA / BITOLA - Anatolia News Agency | 8/3/2009 12:00:00 AM |

The Atatürk House in Greek Thessalonica and the Atatürk Memoir Room at the Macedonian Bitola military academy are among the most popular places visited by Turkish tourists who go to the Balkan countries. The houses display Atatürk's personal belongings, his notes, information about his life and more. The most interesting thing among these is a love letter written by Atatürk's first love Eleni, and distributed to visitors in the Atatürk Memoir Room

When Turkish tourists travel to the Balkans to visit the birthplace of the founder of the Turkish Republic, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, they mostly visit the house where he was born in the Greek capital Thessalonica and the Military Academy in the Macedonian city of Bitola where he pursued a military education.

Canan Emin, curator of the Atatürk House museum, provides information about the museum for Turkish tourists visiting there. The house is located in the Aya Dimitriya neighborhood on Apostolu Pavlu Street, next to the Turkish Consulate General.

It is easy to visit the house for tourists who go to the city via travel companies but for others the house is often difficult to find. Because even though it is a museum, there is no signboard to show its location and no cultural brochures promoting it. No tourism companies in Thessalonica include the Atatürk House in their brochures about cultural, historical and archaeological places in the area.

[HH] Military school in Bitola

The military school in Bitola, where Atatürk attended from 1896 to 1899, is one of the most popular places for Turkish tourists in the city.

The military school serves as the Bitola Cultural Museum today. The first floor of the building has been organized as a memoir room and displays Atatürk’s beeswax statue, bust, some personal belongings and information about his life, the wars he fought, quotations, and also books, brochures and magazines that feature Atatürk.

When visitors come, Emin shows a short film titled “Güneşin Adı: Mustafa Kemal” (The Name of the Sun: Mustafa Kemal), directed by Fuat Çağlar and prepared by the Turkish General Staff.

The Sakarya and Çanakkale wars are featured in Turkish, English and Macedonian languages in huge lighting billboards. Also in the room where Atatürk took notes during his education there is a visitor’s book for tourists to sign and leave their mark on Atatürk’s history.

[HH] The tears of Eleni, Atatürk’s love

Museum officials give a love letter to those who visit the Atatürk Memoir Room. This is the letter written by Atatürk’s first love, Eleni Krintte, when Atatürk was a student at the military school. The daughter of a Greek businessman, Eleni says that Atatürk’s mother Zübeyde Hanım did not let her son marry her and later on, her father made her marry his housekeeper.

The following is the letter written by Eleni to Atatürk:

“Many years have passed, I am still waiting to hear from you. If you receive my letter at anytime, remember me. You can see my tears on the paper. Years and events pass, there are many things said about you. If you love another woman when you read my letter, tear it up. Eleni Krintte from Bitola has spent all her life for a man she met and fell in love with. If you love that woman as much as I love you, don’t tell her anything, I wish her to be happy like you. But if you remember the girl in the balcony, and don’t love any other woman, I want you to know that I am waiting for you and will wait until the end of my love. I know that you won’t forget me and will be back. My father has died. One year has passed since he made us part. He locked me in the house and did not let me go out for a month. I cried. I knew that he wasted all locks and prisons. I saw the man that they wanted me to marry only once and he told me that I could love him. I told him ‘No, I love my first love only.’ My father has never forgiven me and I didn’t forgive him, either. I am no longer as young or as beautiful as I was in those years. Your Eleni Krintte, who will always love and wait for you…”

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