The first inhabitants of the city, which hosted many civilizations, lived on the Biga Peninsula in the Last Chalcolithic Age c. 6000 years ago. However, very little is known about the identity and lifestyle of these early settlers. According to some excavations and research, the earliest settlements in the region were established at Kumtepe. It is supposed that Kumkale was established in 4000 BC and Troy between 3500–3000 BC. The real history of Çanakkale started with Troy.
Later the Aeolian Greeks settled on that important land in the 8th century BC and established many trade colonies in the region called Aeolis. The region came under the control of the Lydians in the 7th century BC and under the control of the Persians in the 6th century BC. Aeolis went under the control of the Ancient Macedonian army as Alexander the Great defeated the Persians by the Granicus River of the region in the Battle of the Granicus on his way to Asia. The region came under the reign of the Kingdom of Pergamon in the 2nd century BC.
The western part of the Biga Peninsula where ancient Troy is situated was called Troas. Alexandria Troas, an important settlement of the region, was a free trade port and a rich trade center during Roman times. Later in the 2nd century AD, the region was attacked by Goths from Thrace. During the 7th and 8th centuries, in order to attack Constantinople the Arabs passed the strait a few times and came up to Sestos. At the beginning of the 14th century the Karasids dominated the Anatolian part of the strait. During the first half of that century Demirhan Bey from Karasids attempted to dominate the region. The Ottomans gained control of Gallipoli in 1367.
In 1915, during the First World War, Great Britain and France attempted to capture the Ottoman capital of Constantinople and secure a sea route to Russia. Known as the The Gallipoli Campaign, or the Dardanelles Campaign, in Turkey it is referred to as the Battle of Çanakkale (Turkish: Çanakkale Savaşı), in particular the sea battle which took place on March 1915 where the Royal Navy was repulsed by Turkish forces. During the naval battles, Joule, AE2, HMS Triumph, HMS Ocean and HMS Goliath were among the ships sunk by Turkish forces.
As of 1920, the city was estimated to have a population of approximately 22,000. An active port city, it was a stopping point for vessels traveling through the strait, as it had been in the ancient past. It was described as lacking quality accommodations and resources for those passing through by the British who visited the region. Exported goods from the city included wine, hides, pottery, and grain.