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 characteristics.
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 Byzantines.

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 settlement.
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, the well preserved 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 in 1770.
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 place Çesme, 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 be seen.
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. Agios Haralambos Church, built in the 19th century, has been converted into a cultural center.

>* According 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 his sight.

** 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.

There 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 Agios Constantinos Church constructed in 1874 has been converted into a mosque called the Market Place Mosque.
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 the Phokaians 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 Homeros), 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.
Beskapilar 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 Aga Mosque.

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.

Tas 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 funerary architecture.

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 the gymnasium 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 peripteral Temple 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 Ottoman past.