Tag Archives: Kemal Ataturk

Naples, The Inevitability of Giuseppe Garibaldi

Naples Garibaldi

Garibaldi is the only wholly admirable figure in modern history.” –  A.J.P. Taylor (English Historian)

On our second day in Naples we made an early start because we were taking a train journey to nearby Herculaneum, a Roman City destroyed at the same time as more famous Pompeii by the eruption of Vesuvius in A.D 79.

We didn’t have a proper map of course but we were fairly certain of the right way towards the railway station and we confidently set off in our chosen direction and within a few moments came upon a huge piazza and the inevitable statue of Italy’s great hero, Giuseppe Garibaldi who we have come across previously in (no exaggeration here) every town and city that we have visited in Italy.

Every town and city in Italy has a statue of Giuseppe Garibaldi.

This one was an especially fine statue, high on a column with an additional frieze depicting him alongside other Italian heroes.  I couldn’t get a very good picture because this would have involved standing in the middle of the road where I would certainly have been run down several times and so become a permanent addition to the tarmac!!

A few years ago I wrote a post in which I speculated on whether Giuseppe Garibaldi may be the most celebrated secular man ever to be recreated in statue form across the World.  You can read the post here.

After the creation of the Kingdom of Italy in 1861 the state worked hard at making sure Garibaldi would be perpetually remembered and the number of streets, piazzas and statues named after him makes him probably the most commemorated secular figure in history.  Such was the romance of his story of revolutionary heroism and daring-do that Garibaldi was at one point possibly the most famous man in Europe.


In London in 1864 for example people flocked to see him as he got off the train. The crowds were so immense it took him six hours to travel three miles through the streets. The whole country shut down for three days while he met the great and the good.  Literary figures including the poet laureate Alfred Lord Tennyson and Sir Walter Scott lauded him as the “Italian lion” and “the noblest Roman of them all”.

Statues of his likeness stand in many Italian squares and in other countries around the world.  A bust of Giuseppe Garibaldi is prominently placed outside the entrance to the old Supreme Court Chamber in the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, DC, a gift from members of the Italian Society of Washington. Many theatres in Sicily take their name from him and are ubiquitously named Garibaldi Theatre.

Five ships of the Italian Navy have been named after him, among which a World War II cruiser and the former flagship, the aircraft carrier Giuseppe Garibaldi.

Giuseppe Garibaldi Italian Navy

When I went on holiday to Sorrento in 1976 I took a bus ride along the Amalfi Coast the coach stopped at one dangerously precipitous hairpin bend so that the tour guide could point out to us an outcrop of rock in the sea which is said to show the profile of the great man.

Garibaldi Rock Amalfi Coast

The English football team Nottingham Forest designed their home red kit after the uniform worn by Garibaldi and his men and have worn a variation of this design since being founded in 1865 and there is a Nottingham Forest team magazine called the ‘Garibaldi Gazette‘.  Rather interesting that they choose Garibaldi and not Robin Hood in my opinion but then they would have had to play in green shirts which is not a popular football shirt colour.  A college in Mansfield, Nottinghamshire is also named in his honour.

Nottingham Forest Shirt

Garibaldi is like a rash, he is everywhere.  The Garibaldi biscuit was named after him, as was a style of beard, a pop group in Mexico and in Italy there is a cocktail drink called the Garibaldi (based almost inevitably on the Italian drink Campari). The Giuseppe Garibaldi Trophy has been awarded annually since 2007 in the European Six Nations rugby union competition to the winner of the match between France and Italy.

Other places and things named after Garibaldi include a National Park in British Columbia in Canada including Mount Garibaldi, Lake Garibaldi and an entire Volcanic belt; the city of Garibaldi in Oregon, USA; a town and a gold mine near the city of Ballarat in Victoria and a dirt road in Melbourne, both in Australia and a medium sized town in the very south of Brazil (his wife, Anita, was Brazilian).

There are Hotels in Naples, Palermo, Venice and Milan, but only a bed and breakfast in Rome. In England there are streets and squares named after him in London, Scarborough, Grimsby, Bradford and St Albans and a hotel in Northampton.  There is a Pizzeria in Memphis, Tennessee and in the Pacific Ocean near California there is a scarlet fish and a marine reef called Garibaldi. There is a museum on Staten Island, New York; stations on the Paris metro and in Mexico City; a café in Madrid, an area in Berlin, restaurants in Vienna and Kuala Lumpur, a Street in Moscow, a Museum in Amsterdam and a block of high-rise Social Housing flats in my home town of Grimsby.

If I have missed anything important out of my list then please let me know.

I have got rather a lot of photographs of Garibaldi statues from my Italian city visits but I took some more here and then we continued our walk to the railway station.

“We were for centuries
downtrodden, derided,
because we are not one people,
because we are divided.
Let one flag, one hope
gather us all.
The hour has struck
for us to unite.”

Italy National Anthem

Naples Statue 4

More Garibaldi Statues…

Giuseppe in Pisa

Giuseppe in Padova

Giuseppe in Venice


Turkey, The Inevitability of Kemal Atatürk

Kemal Atatürk

“His name is affixed to bridges, airports and highways too many to mention. And seemingly every house where he spent a night from southern Aegean to the Black Sea is now a museum.”  –  Lonely Planet

There was a perfect blue sky when I was woken quite early by an invasion of sunlight bulldozing its way into the room through the gaps in the curtains and I lay still for awhile contemplating being in a new country and I began to think of the most obvious things that I associated with Turkey – Turkish Delight, Turkish Baths, Turkish Tea, Turkish Wrestling, Istanbul, Magic Carpets, Kebabs and Belly Dancers and when my mind was quite cluttered up with all of these thoughts I got up and opened the balcony door and was greeted with a powerful aroma drifting in from an adjacent apartment that reminded me of one more thing – Turkish Coffee!

Now that it was morning we could make out east from west and our location seemed much less confusing so after breakfast we consulted the map and headed off towards the sea front and the centre of the town.

First we walked along the promenade squeezed in between the caramel coloured beach with its sun loungers and colourful umbrellas on one side and the strip of fake produce bazaars, glitzy bars and English breakfast restaurants on the other and then we turned away from the sea and the main arterial road of the town, the Kemal Atatürk Boulevard and about halfway distance north to south we came to an open square and a massive statue dominating the centre.

It is not unusual to find a street named after Kemal Atatürk in any major town and city in Turkey because he is the great hero of the Turks, a sort of Winston Churchill, Franklin D Roosevelt and Charles de Gaulle all rolled into one.  Atatürk was a military officer during World War I and following the defeat and post war dismantling of the Ottoman Empire he led the National Movement in the Turkish War of Independence. He defeated the Allied forces and humiliated the Greek invaders and led the Nation to complete victory and a fresh new modern start.

Kemal Ataturk Postcard

He became the first President of modern Turkey in 1923 and embarked upon a program of political, economic, and cultural reforms, seeking to transform the former Ottoman Empire into a modern and secular nation-state.

Under his leadership the capital was moved east from Istanbul to Ankara, Islam ceased to be the official State religion and in a reform programme called Turkification, thousands of new schools were built, primary education was made free and compulsory, the wearing of the Fez was banned (because he considered it to be a symbol of the old Ottoman  Empire) and women were given equal civil and political rights

His image is everywhere in Turkey – on street banners, shop window posters and flags.  It is difficult for us to imagine how a single man can be revered in such a way.  In 1934 he was honoured with the name Atatürk (Father of the Turks) by the Grand National Assembly of Turkey and his other titles include Great Leader (Ulu Önder), Eternal Commander (Ebedî Başkomutan), Head Teacher (Baş Öğretmen), and Eternal Chief (Ebedî Şef).  He is buried in a massive marble mausoleum in Ankara called the Anıtkabir (literally the Monumental Tomb) which continues to attract hundreds of thousands of visitors every year.

You can read a good account of a visit to the Mausoleum in a post by fellow blogger Uncle Spike.

Turkish people worship Atatürk like a god.  In the late 1990s Time Magazine ran an international voting competition to find the Person of the Century.  Very quickly Atatürk established a surprising lead but eventually Time Magazine withdrew his name from the list of nominations because of multiple voting (cheating) by the Turks which in my book sort of makes them look like hypocrites for complaining about the Eurovision Song Contest!

All of this cult worship means that there are statues of Atatürk in every town, city and village in Turkey and it is said that there is a bust of him at every school in the country.  A few posts ago I speculated on the question of which secular figure in history might have the most statues and likenesses erected in their memory and honour.  I considered Atatürk as a serious contender but was quick to dismiss his claim and concluded that it must surely be Giuseppe Garibaldi, the hero of Italian Unification, but after visiting Turkey I think I might have to make a reassessment.

As well as statues and monuments right across Turkey there are statues dedicated to Atatürk in Canberra in Australia, Wellington in New Zealand, Kushimoto in Japan and Bucharest in Romania;   He also pops up in South America in Santiago, Caracas  and in Mexico City.  There are streets and parks named after him in New Delhi, India; Dhaka, Bangladesh; Islamabad, Pakistan; Larkana, Pakistan; Baku, Azerbaijan, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Israel, Amsterdam, Northern Cyprus and Kabul in Afghanistan.

In 2013 a monument was erected to him in Washington DC and although there isn’t a statue to Atatürk in the United Kingdom there is a likeness of him in Madame Tussaud’s waxworks museum in London.

Yes, I have to concede that Atatürk seriously challenges Garibaldi for the title of most statues erected in his memory.

We spent a few moments admiring the statue and then continued with our walk to the old town of Didim (a sister city incidentally with Gibraltar*) where we were looking specifically for the Mosque.

Ataturk Waxwork

* No one else will twin with Gibraltar!  The troublesome rock offered a twinning arrangement with London but was turned down and offered Goole in Humberside instead.  Goole is a dreadful place and Gibraltar was insulted and turned the offer down.  I think they were lucky to be offered Goole, I would have given them Jaywick in Essex which is generally reckoned to be the worst place possible to live in England.

More Garibaldi – Giuseppe and Others…

Giuseppe Garibaldi Molfetta Puglia Italy

A few posts ago I speculated on whether Giuseppe Garibaldi may be the most celebrated secular man ever to be recreated in statue form across the World and I thought then, before declaring him the outright winner,  that it may be appropriate to take a look at the other contenders.

Some have gone already as they have been airbrushed out of history because surely the public likenesses of Lenin, Stalin, Franco, Tito and Napoleon Bonaparte would have challenged for this accolade and some will have their likenesses in bronze and stone but perhaps in a more limited way and I include here Nelson Mandela, Kemal Ataturk and Don Quixote.

La Colonne de la Grande Armée Boulogne France

So, where does that lead me?  There is no definite list as I can see but here are my suggestions for the top 5:

  1. My favourite – Garibaldi (of course)
  2. The first American President – George Washington.
  3. Another American President  – Abraham Lincoln
  4. The hero of Indian independence – Mahatma Ghandi
  5. Britain’s greatest ever hero – Winston Churchill

These are just my thoughts and I would be pleased to receive any alternative suggestions in your comments.

Mount Rushmore