KUSADASI


Kusadasi is set in a superb gulf, on the site of a settlement founded by Ionians and identified as ancient Neapolis. In the vicinity were the two other Ionian cities of Phygale and Marathesion, but mighty Ephesus swapped Marathesion with Samos for Neapolis. Ephesus and Samos were both part of the Ionian Confederacy whose council, the Panionion, was held at the foot of Mount Mycale (today near Güzelçamlik*) . Following the Persian, Hellenistic and Roman domination, Neapolis was ruled by the Byzantines. After Ephesus had lost its prior prosperity and its harbour was totally silted up by the alluvial deposits of the Cayster river (küçük Menderes), the Byzantines searched for a new port and a new road that would be suitable for trading and chose Neapolis, then renamed Ania, instead. The town became an important port with the Greek, Jewish, and Armenian merchants, and was called Scala Nueva in the 15th century by the Venetian and Genoese colony of merchants which had established there. Following the Manzikert Battle in 1071, the Seljuk Turks spread widely in Anatolia. During their decline in 1284, the Aydino?ullari Emirate was set up in the region and Kusadasi was incorporated to it in the early 14th century. But the Turks preferred to live mainly inland on the foothills near the ancient settlement known as Andizkule. Ottoman sultan Mehmet I finally conquered the region of Kusadasi in 1413. The town of Kusadasi took its” present” form during the early 17th century under Öküz Mehmet Pasha who was grand vizier under the reign of sultan Ahmet I and Osman II. Öküz Mehmet Pasha Caravanserai, Kale içi Bath and Kale içi Mosque, all built inside the ramparts, date back to this period. In 1920 the domination of Izmir and its surroundings, of which Kusadasi, was granted to Greece by the Treaty of Sèvres. During the War of Independence in September 1922, it was taken back by the Turkish forces and the Treaty of Lausanne (1923) gave Izmir and its surroudings back to the new Turkish Republic.

Kusadasi, which means the “Bird Island”, was named after the small island situated some way off the harbour where cruise ships and liners draw alongside. The Ottomans, who renamed it “Güvercin Ada” (Pigeon Island), used this strategic island for military purposes, like the Byzantines who had already built a fortress to defend themselves against the pirates. Today Pigeon Island, which is connected to the land by a sea wall (10 minutes walk from the harbour area), is the ideal place to enjoy a panoramic view of Kusadasi sipping a drink in the garden cafes.
Öküz Mehmet Pasha Hani, the largest caravanserai in the Aegean region, is located at the beginning of Harbour Street near Orient and Grand Bazaar. Since its restoration in 1967, it has been used as a hotel and a shopping center, and special “Turkish nights” are held in the inner court yard of the building during summer time.
Barbaros Hayrettin Street, located in a pedestrianized precinct, is one of the most popular area for shopping.
A long waterfront stretches between the harbour, where a couple of fish retaurants are located, and the marina. Lots of restaurants of all kinds, cafes, bars, pubs can be found everywhere in Kusadasi.
The specialty of the region of Kusadasi, the "çöp sis" made of small pieces of lamb on tiny wooden skewers, is a sort of miniature sis kebab.





Today Kusadasi has become a most sophisticated and well equipped holiday resort. It is an ideal starting point towards the famous places of interest of the region: Ephesus, Miletus, Priene, Didyma, Aphrodisias, Pamukkale...

Ferries link Kusadasi to Greek Samos Island whose coasts can be easily seen from Kalamaki in the Dilek National Park located 28 km/ 17.5 miles south of Kusadasi.

In the north-east of Dilek Peninsula, near Güzelçamlik, at the foot of Mount Mycale (today Mount Samsun) on the site of ancient Melia stood the Panionion, a meeting place in Priene’s lands and under its management, where the cities of the Ionian Confederacy held their council and celebrated a yearly festival (end of summer) called Panionia in the sanctuary dedicated to Poseidon Heliconios. For the improvement of their cities, the members would discuss politics, business, trade, farming processing, art, science etc... and would share their problems, trying to find appropriate solutions. The commercial and cultural influence of these cities spread over Anatolia where they opened new trading posts.
Excavations conducted in 1913 and 1957-58 have revealed the remains of a circular wall which are thought to belong to the Panionion. Also remnants of Melia’ s rampart walls which protected Panionion as well as a long thin structure measuring 18x4/ 60x13 inches, have been brought to light.

14 km/ 8.7 miles east of Kusadasi and 12 km/ 7.5 miles south of Selçuk is Çamlik village, famous since 1991 for its Steam Engine Museum (Buharli Lokomotif Müzesi) which displays one of the largest steam engine collection in Europe. Çamlik station was on the former ORC line, the oldest line in Turkey. As it is located at the highest and most difficult part of the line, with steep gradient and sharp curves, the station has been disused (except for a slow local train operating between Selçuk and Ortaklar) since the Izmir - Aydin main line has been following a new route . The museum also displays two interesting hand powered quay cranes among other miscellaneous items.


 



SIRINCE

Set in the hills 8 kms/ 5 miles above Selçuk, this picturesque charming village was once named Kirkince by its Greek inhabitants who settled here by the end of the 18th century. After the great exchange of population following the establishment of the Turkish Republic, the village was repopulated by Turkish people who called it Çirkince, a distortion of Kirkince (which in fact was how the Greeks pronounced the Turkish name Kirkinca!). As the word Çirkince means “ugly” in the Turkish language, the name was finally transformed in Sirince which means “pretty” and which really suits the village.
Most of the old Greek houses have been restored with their original characteristics outside ( wattle and daub technique, projecting upper storey) and the local Turkish layout and decoration inside, allowing the place to keep an authentic appearance and reveal a synthesis of Greco-Turkish culture. Some of these houses are open to visitors. A nice stroll will allow to discover the village with at the top its old church, and enjoy the panoramic views of the vineyards, peach orchards and olive groves.
Unusually for Turkey, here the local people make and sell wine and even invite visitors to taste their vintage. They also sell other local produces such as olive oil, bay leaves, origano, fruits... Handicrafts (embroideries, baskets etc...) are sold by peasant women in the cobbled streets.
Pensions and restaurants have been established in some of the historic houses. There are also a few simple restaurants where very nice gözleme is served.
 



PRIENE

Ancient port of the Ionian confederacy, today 15 km/9.5 miles away from the sea, the splendid site of Priene is located at the foot of Mount Mycale, and overlooks the alluvial plain formed by the Meander River. The site that dates back to the 5 C B.C., spreading among olive trees, is of great interest due to the fact that it is laid out on a grid plan ,also called hippodamian plan, named after the architect of the city ,Hippodamus of Miletus. The city was divided into four sections according to cultural, political, religious and commercial life.

The theatre
, Hellenistic monument of the second half of the 4C B.C., is one of the best preserved ancient Greek theatres. It was renoved by the Romans and had a seating capacity of 5,000 people. It was also used as the People Assembly (Ekklesia).

The Bouleuterion
is well preserved and held a capacity of 640 people: It was used for political meeting as a council chamber.

The Prytaneion was the city hall.

The Bouleuterion

Temple of Athena Polias


Hippodamian (grid) plan of the city

The Temple of Athena Polias who was the protectress of the city, was rebuilt in 334 B.C. by Alexander the Great. Only a few columns are left today.

The Agora
or market square was located in the center of the city.