Çesme is a popular holiday resort and a spa center
located 80 kms/ 50 miles to the west of Izmir at
the westernmost tip of the Çesme Peninsula, facing
the Greek Island of Chios. Çesme offers natural
beauties with its innumerable bays washed by a crystal
clear sea, white sand blue flagged beaches including
Sifne, Küçük Liman, Ilica, Çiftlik,
Altin Kum, Çatal Azmak, Sakizli Bay, Tekke,
Aya Yorgi beaches... Çesme also offers sulfurous thermal springs with some
of them springing from the sea as can be seen in
Ilica. Modern accomodation facilities are available
around the thermal springs in Ilica, Sifne. The
healing waters have therapeutic effect on arthitis,
muscular, dermatological, cardio-vascular, women's
and neurological-psychiatric diseases. Thalassotherapy,
hydrotherapy and pelotherapy (mud therapy) are also
available in Çesme.
The coastline of Çesme offers kilometers of beaches
In Ilica, hot thermal water springs in the sea
The richness of Çesme also consists in its cultural
heritage, a blend of Aegean and Ottoman-Turkish
Following the Trojan wars and according to Pausanias,
the city of Erythraea (Ildir located 20 km/
12.5 miles northeast of the center of Çesme) was
founded by Erythros, son of Ramadanthys from Crete,
whose name means "the Red" in Greek language.
After the arrival of Ionian settlers, Erythraea
developed considerably and became one of the twelve
cities of the Ionian Confederacy.
The city, which had temples dedicated to Heracles*
and Athena Polias**, was renowned in antiquity
for its Erythraean Sybil, Herophile, the most famous
prophetess after the Cumean Sybil. During the 8th-7th
centuries BC, the city, which was ruled by tyrants,
had an important economic power with active trade
relations with cities in the Eastern Mediterranean.
Erythraea came under the domination of the Lydians
(ca. 560 BC) and the Persians (545 BC). In 494 BC,
the Erythraeans sent eight ships to the naval Battle
of Lade near Miletus, but the Persians crushed the
Ionians united in a coalition. For a better protection
against the renewed Persian attacks, Erythraea joined
the maritime organization of the Delian League (or
Confederacy of Delos) established by the Athenians.
In 412 BC, Erythrea, which had remained subject
to the supremacy of ambitious Athens, refusing any
longer to pay tribute, together with chios revolted
against Athenian hegemony and even served as a base
during the Peloponnesian War. Later, Erythraea entertained
good relations with Mausolus
of Halicarnassus who was considered as the city's
benefactor. In 334 BC, Erythraea regained its freedom
through Alexander the Great, but quickly passed
into the hands of the Kings
of Pergamon. In 133 BC, Erythraea was incorporated
into the Roman Province of
Asia finally gaining the status of free city.
During this period, the area of Erythraea was named
Cyssus. Together with the Island of Chios
Cyssus was one of the main centers in the trading
of slaves and wine. The city gradually declined
at the beginning of the Christian
era, and a great majortiy of the ancient pagan
works were destroyed. Until the 11th century, the
city and the region remained under the rule of the
In 1081, the area was conquered by Çaka
Bey, Turcoman leader and Kiliç
Arslan I's father in law, and was populated
by Seljuk Turks. The name
of the city changed once again, becoming "Ildiri".
In Çesmeköy (2 km to the south of the town
center) are the remains of the "old mosque"
and a cemetary, evidences of this early Turkish
The city, newly conquered by the Ottoman sultan
Yildirim Bayezit, fell
for a short period to the Mongol Tamerlane and to
the Aydinogullari after
the Battle of Ankara in 1402, but was recaptured
by the Ottomans in 1422.
In 1508, they rebuilt the previous
Genoese fortress which served
as a base to the Ottoman navy. Today,
castle houses the Archaeological Museum where
the finds from the excavations held in Erythraea
and in the area are displayed. In front of the castle
stands the statue of Cezayirli Hasan Pasha who was
the commander of the Ottoman fleet in the Battle
of Çesme against Russia and who became Grand Admiral
Upon the defeat of the Ottomans in the First World
War, Çesme was occupied by the Greeks. It was liberated
during the War of Independence
on September 16th, 1922.
The Ottomans named the
a name derived from the numerous 18th- 19th centuries
fountains (çesme means "fountain" in Turkish )
scattered in the town and its surroundings.
The name also refers to the many springs found in
the area during the same period.
Also dating from the Ottoman era, a
caravansarai built in 1528 (it currently
fonctions as a hotel and contains many shops) and
19th century mosques can
The typical stone houses of Çesme that
reflect the influence of the Greek and Turkish coexistence,
are built side by side and the sgrafitto technique
is used in the decoration of their facades. The
houses have a direct access to the street and do
not have a front yard. AgiosHaralambos Church,
built in the 19th century, has
been converted into a cultural center.
to Pausanias, a statue depicting Heracles was put
to the sea on a raft from Tyre in Phoenicia. When
it reached the Cape of Mesate (Top Burnu) just midway
between the harbor of Erythraea and the island of
Chios, the inhabitants of both lands made great
efforts to pull the raft on their own shores without
success. Phormio, a blind fisherman from Erythrai,
saw a vision and professed that the women should
cut their hair to make a rope and that the men should
use it to tow the raft to their shores. Whereas
the citizen women refused to obey him, Thracian
slaves and Thracian free women did what he suggested
and the men towed the raft ashore. A temple was
erected to keep the statue of Heracles but no women
except Thracian women were allowed inside.
As for the visionary fisherman, he recovered
** Always according to Pausanias, inside
the temple was a huge wooden statue of the goddess
Athena Polias sitting on a throne.
Çesme and the mastic tree: the use of mastic (sakiz
in Turkish), resin from the trunk of the lentisc
tree, goes back to the dawn of time in the region.
Since antiquity, it has been used in the healing
of a great variety of diseases. However, the fame
of the mastic became widespread across the world
from Chios. Mastic gives a delicious aroma when
added to beverage such as the mastic raki
(arak), or to some desserts
such as the mastic icecream (sakizli dondurma) which
is the speciality of Çesme.
The Çesme International Song Contest is held every
year in July. Additionally, Çesme castle acts as
a venue to a great number of events and activities.
are regular car ferries between Çesme and
the Greek Island of Chios, and between Çesme
and Bari and Brindisi in Italy.
A few kilometers southeast of Çesme is Alaçati,a village overlooked by old windmills. Alaçati
boasts narrow cobblestone streets lined with old
houses built of pumice stone, which keeps the interior
cool in summer and warm in winter. The
Constantinos Church constructed in 1874 has
been converted into a mosque called the Market Place
Thanks to its location near a beautiful bay where
steady and consistent winds blow (the "poyraz"
ideally blows from north to south in summer and the "lodos"
from south to north in winter), in the early 1980's
Alaçati has changed from a remote fisherman's village
to one of the most popular windsurfing and
kitesurfing centers in Europe. On the Alaçati-Çark
Beach area, there are windsurfing schools with bilingual
fully qualified licenced instructors. Modern hotels,
beach clubs, restaurants, cafes, beach and water
sports facilities serve all windsurfers, kitesurfers
and other water sport lovers. Alaçati regularly
hosts windsurf championships with races hold in
both Slalom and free Style disciplines.
The surf center is located in a U shaped bay
with clear waters and ideal winds
In the background, wind turbines generating electrical power
Alaçati Windsurf Paradise
Foça is a delightful fishing town and a small holiday
resort located 70 kms/ 43 miles to the north of
Izmir, in the middle of a beautiful nature. Its
old stone houses, fish restaurants, cafes, colourful
fishermen's boats make it an attractive place
to spend a calm and relaxed holiday.
In antiquity, Foça was known as Phocaea.
The site, within the limits of Aeolia,
was first inhabited by Cymaeans*. According
to Pausanias, in the 8th century BC, Ionian colonists
from Teos and Erythraea settled here. Phocaea
rapidly became a famous trading port and joined
the Ionian confederacy
(Panionium), thus becoming the northernmost of
the twelve cities of the confederacy. The Phocaeans,
who were bold seafarers and skilled traders, established
colonies on the Black Sea (Amisos-Samsun), at
the mouth of the Dardanelles
(Lampsaque) and on the western coasts of the Mediterranean.
The main colonies founded on this part of the
Mediterranean were Massalia (around 600 BC) today's
Marseille (Massilia, Marsilia) in the south
of France; Alalia in Corsica; Eleae (Velia) in
Lucania/Italy and Emporion (Ampurias) in Spain.
Phocaea was also famous for its coinage made of
electrum (following the Lydians,
the Phocaeans were among the first to make and
use coins as money), and for its purple dye. But
Phoceae lost its prosperity after the Persian
conquest and many of the inhabitants emigrated
to their Mediterranean colonies. Although the
city could only send three ships to
the Battle of Lade, the commander in chief (Dionysios
of Phocaea) of the Ionian fleet was chosen among
renowned for their great knowledge of naval strategy.
Until the Roman era,
the city met the same fate as Erythraea's. In
132 BC, having supported the revolt lead by Aristonicus
against the Romans, Phocaea was saved from destruction
thanks to the intercession of Massilia.
Although it became the see of a diocese in the
early Christian era, the city lost much of its significance.
In the late 13th century, thanks to the Genoese
who were mining alum there, the city experienced
a renewal of prosperity as a trading post. The
Genoese, to whom the Byzantine Emperor Michael
VIII Palaeologos had granted Phocaea in fief,
built a new town and a castle not far from
the ruins of the ancient city, naming it Foggia
Nova. During the eventful next century, the
city suffered the assaults of the Byzantines,
of the Venitians and those of Tamerlane, and in
1455, was finally conquered by the Ottomans.
* The largest Aeolian city was Cyme, located
on the coast to the north of present Menemen.
Most of the few ruins of ancient Cyme are underwater
and visible while snorkeling.
Phocaea (or Foça in Turkish)
is supposed to have taken its name from the Mediterranean
seals that populate the surrounding bays and
rocky islands. Seals are members of the family
Phocidae. These monk seals or " Monachus
Monachus" are under World Wide Fund (WWF)
and national protection in order to preserve and
enhance the population of this threatened species.
A statue of a seal, symbol of Foça, stands in the
town square of Old (Eski) Foça.
The group of six rocky islands near Foça
are called Siren Islands (Orak Island
being the biggest). In Greek mythology (cf
the sirens sang so enchantingly that they
would lure the sailors, causing them to
be shipwrecked. The myth of the sirens could
be explained either by the fact that it
was the wind blowing smoothly through the
rocks that made sounds resembling a woman's
singing, or why not by the sound (vocalisation)
made by the seals!
It is possible to take a daily boat tour
sailing among the pristine islands and to
nearby coves including breaks for swimming.
Kalesi (Five Gate Castle): in antiquity the
fortification walls passing over the hills
east of the city also defended the peninsula where
the Temple of Athena stood. The best preserved
sections of these walls are those which are included
in the Beskapilar Castle, a
Genoese structure repaired and enlarged by the
Ottomans who added towers to the ramparts in the
16th century. The part used as the open air theatre
was the boat house. Within the castle are the
Fatih Mosque, named after Sultan Mehmet
the Conqueror, Kayalar Mosque and Hafiz Süleyman
Kaleburnu (The Outer Fortress) was built in
1678 by the Ottomans at the tip of a promontory
for a better protection of the city. The fortress
is separated from the continent by a large ditch.
Ev (the Stone House) is a tomb rising
at the side of the road, 10 km away from
Foça. This 4C BC tomb reminds of the Lycian
Seytan Hamami (the Devil's Bath)
is another 4C BC rock-cut tomb at the foot
of Çan Hill (Çan Tepesi). It is 2 km from
the town center.
The Music, Folklore and Watersports Festival is held
in Foça every year in June.
Nestled at the far end of a small gulf between the headlands of Doganbey and Teke lies Sigacik,
a small but colourful fishing port. Ancient
seafarers discovered this hospitable harbour
whose calm waters have inspired its name which
derives from the Turkish word siginak which
means shelter. In the 16th century the Ottoman
fortress was constructed on the advice of
Piri Reis, the famous Turkish navigator and
cartographer, replacing a former one built
by the Aydinogullari. Stones from the site
of Teos were reused in this construction.
Today only the lower level of the fortress
has remained. Picturesque traditional houses
can be seen inside the city walls and a white
tomb on the opposite shore. According to a
local legend, one night, sailors caught in
a storm saw a light which helped them find
their way to safety in Si?acik Harbour, and
the captain made the wish to be buried on
the spot where he had seen the light.
The road climbing the hill behind the tomb leads to
Teos located at a very short distance
on an isthmus. Teos, which was founded in 1050-1000
BC, was one of the twelve cities of the Ionian
Confederacy. It was known as an active artistic
centre and towards the end of the 3C BC, became
the first seat of the guild of the Ionian actors
who attended the cult
of Dyonisus and gave performances at various
places. From the acropolis, the city of Teos extended
to the south where the main harbour, protected by
a mole, was located (the northern harbour being
on the site of Si?acik). There, the remains of the
Hellenistic walls, the 2C BC theatre,
the odeon can be seen as well as
where inscriptions found here reveal that it had
three classes and three teachers, two for sport
and one for music. In the western part of the lower
city stand the remains of the Ionic
peripteralTemple of Dionysus.
The temple was built
at the beginning of the 2nd century BC by the architect
Hermogenes and restored during Roman
times. It stood on a stylobate
that measured about 18.5 x 35 m/ 61 x 115 ft
with 6 x 11 columns. It was the largest temple dedicated
to Dionysos in the ancient world. Fragments of the
temple can be seen in Yzmir Archaeological Museum.
Two famous natives of Teos were the Lyric poet Anacreon
(6 C BC) and the Peripatetic philosopher and bibliophile
Apellikon (1 C BC) who bought Aristotle
's library for an exorbitant sum and carried back
to Athens the precious collection which was usurpated
by dictator Sulla (86 BC) who took it to Rome.
To the north of Doganbey headland (which
can be reached by road) is a small island where
ancient Myonnesos is located.
Founded in the 6C BC, it was deserted in the early
2C BC. Only a piece of the city walls dating from
the archaic period, has remained. Its harbour
was connected to the shore by a 80/ 262 ft long
pier today submerged 25-30 cm/ 10-12 inches beneath
the surface of the water. So no need to take a
boat as it is possible to walk in the clear water
like the mountaineers do when they come to climb
the towering 62 m/ 203 ft high rock cliffs on
the south side of the island. The fact that the
island became a pirate stronghold is recalled
in one of its names korsan Adasi or Pirates Island.
Its other names Cüneyt Kalesi (from Cüneyt Bey
the last emir of the Aydinogullari defeated by
the Ottoman sultan Murad II) and Çiftkale (kale
means fort) as well as ruins and cisterns recall
the island's Seljuk and