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KUSADASI HISTORY



Pigeon island in Kusadasi, which means “bird island”, is set in a gulf in the Aegean region of Turkey and is known for its turquoise sparkling water of the Sea, broad sandy beaches, bright sun and large marina with a capacity for 600 boats. A glorious ancient city stands beside it, Ephesus with thousands of visitors from tours each year.

The town is not far from Adnan Menderes Airport, Izmir (only 80 kilometers or 50 miles). Numerous holiday villages and hotels line its shores and hundreds of restaurants serves food from all around the world and, of course, Turkish Cuisine, which is one of the largest cuisines of the world. There are also many hostels, discos, bars, cafes, pubs and “Turkish Nights”; all those to cater holiday-makers.

Kusadasi has retained a certain earthiness to it and inexpensive meals and pensions can still be found in town. Many shops do a brisk trade with passengers from hundreds of cruise ships that dock for a day or two, allowing enough time for a trip to Ephesus and a shopping expedition.

The tiny Güvercin Adasi (Pigeon Island) is connected to the mainland with a causeway. Its romantic setting includes a well-maintained flower garden which surrounds the restored 14th or 15th century fortress housing a restaurant and disco frequented by lovers or those hoping to find one by the night’s end.

Beaches close to town tend to get quite crowded during summer. If you prefer more serenity, head for Dilek Peninsula National Park, known locally as Milli Park about 28 km (17 miles) from Kusadasi.

It is also possible to get to Greek island Samos by regular daily ferries.

Lately, many foreigners have bought (and continue to buy) property in and around Kusadasi for their holidays or for the retirement.


History

Around 2000 BC. people coming from Lelek, Caria and Lydia had settled down as a society to the slopes of Pilav Mountain. Later one by one with the unit settlements Pigale, Maratheson, Neopolis and Panionion came to life; Ionians and later Romans by Ephesus coming into the dominance of Rome, had lived in these lands.

Today’s Kusadasi is founded in 16th century by Venetians as a colony. The castle on the small island was built for the purpose of observation in Byzantine times. In the Middle Ages, Kusadasi was ruled by Venetians and Genoese which had taken the name of Scala Nova.

The city was surrounded with castle walls for being protected from the violence of pirates, very common in the Mediterranean those centuries. It’s known that there is an Ionian Region of Kusadasi. This had taken an important harbor mission on Asia – Europe trade road for many years.

Kusadasi is a harbor town and Turks had kept this in mind. Although they were nomads from central Asia and far away from maritime business, they had learnt maritime as well as the Ephesians in a short time. They had lived comfortably with the spoils they caught at naval battles. Kilic Arslan added this town to Selcuk government and Scala Nova again had become the exportation gate of Anatolia in 1186.

Kusadasi is living parallel to Ephesus in history and the settlements around it.


The places that have historical and tourist values are

  • - Panionian Agora,
  • - Roman Bath,
  • - Ilica Hill,
  • - Scala Nova,
  • - Pygale,
  • - Kadi Castle,
  • - Andiz Tower,
  • - Neopolis,
  • - Aquaducts,
  • - Ania,
  • - Melia,
  • - Kursunlu Monastery,
  • - Öküz Mehmet Pasha Caravanserai,
  • - The Castle on Pigeon Island,
  • - Ramparts surrounding the City,
  • - Kusadasi Houses,
  • - Kaleici,
  • - Mosques,
  • - Turkish Baths,
  • - Yacht Harbor and
  • - Dilek National Park.

EPHESUS

Ephesus was an ancient Greek city and later a major Roman city, on the west coast of Asia Minor, near present-day Selçuk, Izmir Province, Turkey

It was one of the twelve cities of the Ionian League during the Classical Greek era In the Roman period, it was for many years the second largest city of the Roman Empire; ranking behind Rome, the empire's capital Ephesus had a population of more than 250,000 in the 1st century BC, which also made it the second largest city in the world The city was famed for the Temple of Artemis (completed around 550 BC), one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World The temple was destroyed in 401 AD by a mob led by St John Chrysostom Emperor Constantine I rebuilt much of the city and erected new public baths

The town was again partially destroyed by an earthquake in 614 AD The city's importance as a commercial center declined as the harbor was slowly silted up by the Cayster River (Küçük Menderes)

Ephesus was one of the seven churches of Asia that are cited in the Book of Revelation-The Gospel of John may have been written here It is also the site of a large gladiators' graveyard

Today's archaeological site lies 3 kilometers southwest of the town of Selçuk, in the Selçuk district of İzmir Province, Turkey The ruins of Ephesus are a favorite international and local tourist attraction, partly owing to their easy access from Adnan Menderes Airport and via the port of Kusadasi


ŞİRİNCE

Şirince is a beautiful hill town only 8 km (5 miles) east of Selçuk, near Ephesus, in the Aegean hinterland south of Izmir. It's famous for its olive oil, wine and beautiful, restful boutique hotels and inns.

The story goes that it was formerly inhabited by Ottoman Greeks and named Kırkınca ("Forty-ish"), which the locals pronounced Çirkince, which means "sort of ugly" (which it certainly is not). After the exchange of populations following World War I, Turks from Greece were moved here. They changed the name to Şirince (shee-REEN-jeh, "sort of sweet, charming"). Some say the Orthodox Christian Greeks who lived here formerly were famed for the excellence of their wine. Others say the Muslim Turks who moved here pretty much started the wine trade, but in any case production has been continued (or re-started), and you can taste the results and judge for yourself when you visit. They sell red, white and rosé, dry and sweet.

Besides grape wines, the locals sell many fruit wines, including apple, apricot, banana, blackberry, blueberry, creamberry, mulberry (black, and white), mandarin orange, melon, orange, peach, quince, sour (Morello) cherry and strawberry.

Go to Şirince for a stroll, some shopping, photography, a bit of cooler air, a lunch or dinner in one of the many small restaurants, or even overnight.

Şirince is a stop on guided bus tours, so it is busiest at mid-day, and quietest in the evening and early morning.

A number of village houses have been beautifully restored and opened as inns, with comfortable double rooms, as well as suites for families, and even rental houses for longer stays.

Here's how to drive from Izmir's Adnan Menderes Airport to Selçuk and Şirince.

Minibuses run between Selçuk and Şirince every 30 minutes during the warm months (April through October), less frequently in the winter (November through March).


APHRODISIAS

Aphrodisias is the City of Aphrodite, Goddess of Love, and one of the Aegean region's most interesting archeological sites. Nestled in the broad, fertile Meander River valley, this city has been here for millennia. At its heart is an acropolis on a hill formed of the detritus of settlements dating back at least to the Early Bronze Age

By the 8th century BC, Aphrodisias was famous as the City of Aphrodite, and pilgrims came to pay homage to the Goddess of Love at her temple. The goddess was called Venus by the Romans, and it's easy to imagine ancient fertility rites such as the belly dance being performed in her temple here.

Without the flow of pilgrim Money, the city declined. In 1402 the fledgling Ottoman Empire and Aphrodisias were attacked by Tamerlane. The empire recovered. This city did not.

Today the ruins, set amid fertile fields of cotton and groves of spindly cypresses, include an elaborate Tetrapylon, or monumental gate, the foundations of the Temple of Aphrodite, the Christian bishop's palace, a beautiful marble odeon (small theater) in excellent condition, and a stadium still capable of seating nearly its original capacity of 30,000 spectators.

Aphrodisias had a famous sculpture academy in Roman times, probably because of the high-grade marble quarried only a few kilometers away at Babadağ. The museum at the site thus has an especially good collection of Roman sculpture. Take a look at the Faces of Aphrodisias.

Aphrodisias is best seen on the way to or from Pamukkale.


MAGNESIA

Magnesia was an ancient Greek city in Anatolia, considerable in size, at an important location commercially and strategically in the triangle of Priene, Ephesus and Tralles. The city was named Magnesia, after the Magnetes from Thessaly who settled the area along with some Cretans. It was later called "on the Meander" to distinguish it from the nearby Lydian city Magnesia ad Sipylum.

It was 15 miles from the city of Miletus.

Magnesia lay within Ionia, but because it had been settled by Aeolians from Greece, was not accepted into the Ionian League. Magnesia may have been ruled for a time by the Lydians and was for some time under the control of the Persians, and subject to Cimmerian raids. In later years, Magnesia supported the Romans in the Second Mithridatic War.

The first excavations at the archaeological site were performed during 1891 and 1893 by a German archaeological team conducted by Carl Humann, discoverer of the Pergamon Altar. These lasted 21 months and partially revealed the theatre, the Artemis temple, the agora, the Zeus temple and the prytaneion.


DAVUTLAR

After the establishment of Turks in Anatolia, the first settlement in this region was established to the east place that is called Koycegiz.

During the occupation of the Greek, people had to leave Davutlar and migrated to Central Anatolia. After the Independence War, they again returned to their places.


GÜZELÇAMLI

Güzelçamlı (locally also called Çamlı in short) is a sea-side town with own municipality in the district of Kuşadası in Turkey's Aydın Province, and a rising tourists' resort. It is situated at a distance of 23 kilometers following the shoreline south to the internationally famous tourism center of Kuşadası, in the same bay, and the town of Güzelçamlı borders on the Dilek Peninsula - Büyük Menderes River delta national park to its south.

The history of Güzelçamlı reaches as far back as the 700's BC. In the Ionian era, the locality was the convention place of the Ionian city states and was named Panionion.

During the Ottoman period, the town used to be called Rumçamlısı (Greek Çamlı) and was entirely populated by Greeks. In the last phase of the Greco-Turkish War (1919-1922) (on 7 September 1922 precisely), with the Turkish army approaching, the town population had fled by boats and took refuge in the nearby island of Samos and the town had remained empty for about two years. In 1924, it has been re-populated by Turks from Leftere near Kavala in the frame of the Exchange of populations between Greece and Turkey. The settlement's name was changed to Güzelçamlı and after having had the status of a village for seventy years, Güzelçamlı was made into a township with own municipality in 1992.

- Cave of Zeus

According to legend, when Zeus provoked and annoyed his brother Poseidon, he used to hide in this cave to rest. While Poseidon, Greek god of the sea, made the seas rise, Zeus hid from his bad temper and wrath in the calm waters of this cave.

Cave of Zeus at the National park entrance contains a pool of fresh water, and many visitors to the park stop here to shower on their way home. Legends about the cave are diverse. Some say, on account of the name, that Zeus bathed here, and others that the Virgin Mary did so.

The Cave of Zeus Located in Güzelçamlı district, is visited by hundreds of people every day. Today, when the sea is not very convenient to swim in due to the waves, the people come here to swim and recall the legend. Surrounded mostly by trees and flowers, The Cave of Zeus, pretends to be hidden from the view, making it a secret, mystical place. At the entrance you'll see a wish tree covered in pieces of material. People believe that if they make a wish and tie a piece of clothing onto a branch, it will be granted.

The sparkling clear and deep water inside the cave, forms the unique pool, suitable for swimming. The lake inside the cave tastes of carbonated mineral water due to the drinkable spring water coming from the mountains and the salty seawater. It's very very cold during the summer and hot in the winter, the cave attracts the attention of both local teenagers and tourists.

Indicating that the cave was the last stop for jeep safari tours organized around the national park, the mayor of Güzelçamlı explained the story of Zeus cave.


DIDYMA

The gigantic Temple of Apollo at Didyma (Didim in Turkish) was among the most famous oracles in the ancient world, equal in importance to the oracular temple at Delphi in Greece.

There has been a temple here since very early times, but the older structure was destroyed by Cyrus of Persia in 494 BC. Construction began on the present stupendous structure soon after.

The Didymaion, as it was also called, was reached by a Sacred Way from the harbor of Panormus.

The huge white-marble temple is simply amazing, with a forest of 120 giant columns at the front porch. At the back of the porch, temple priests met petitioners in a huge portal to accept questions for the oracle, and to deliver oracular poems.

- Apollon Temple


This was the site of a stupendous temple to Apollo, occupied by an oracle as important as the one at Delphi. The ruins you see today belong to a temple started in the late 4th century. This replaced the original temple, which was destroyed in 494 BC by the Persians, and a later construction which was completed under Alexander the Great.

The Temple of Apollo was never finished, though its oracle and priests were hard at work until, after 1400 years of soothsaying, Christianity became the state religion of the Byzantines and brought an end to pagan practices.


MILETUS

Miletus is known for its gigantic Hellenistic theater, reconstructed by the Romans and perhaps the most impressive theater structure in Anatolia.

The city has a solid place in history. Thales of Miletus (6th-5th century BC), one of the Seven Sages of Greece, has been called "the founder of science," with especially great contributions in the fields of geometry and astronomy. It was in Miletus that St Paul met with the elders of the church of Ephesus (the Ephesians) before his final journey to Rome. Isidore of Miletus was one of the two men who changed the course of architecture with the design of Hagia Sophia in Istanbul.

Though a settlement was known to be here in Hittite times, it was the Ionian Hippodamos who gave Miletus its street grid plan, a revolutionary feature of urban planning that was copied in nearby Priene, and later by all new Roman cities. Made rich by maritime commerce and its colonies, Miletus prospered through Byzantine and Seljuk times, but finally died when its harbor filled completely with alluvium from the Meander River.

Nowadays, with the Meander flood plain covered in cotton fields, it's difficult to imagine ships docking right in front of the theater where


PRIENE

The ancient city of Priene is famous for its dramatic setting on flat table land overlooking the broad expanse of the Meander River flood plain with the steep rock of Mount Mykale at its back. It's the northernmost of the three ancient sites (Priene, Miletus and Didyma) you can visit on a day trip from Selçuk (Ephesus) or Kuşadasi.

It's worth visting today for its situation, its well-preserved theater and bouleuterion (council chamber), and the remains of its grand Temple of Athena, a work of Pythius of Halicarnassus, the architect of the famed Mausoleum (see Bodrum).

Other ruins abound, including a gymnasium, stadium and Byzantine church. It's an interesting place.

Priene, 30 km south of Kuşadası, 35 km south of Selçuk (Ephesus), was among the first cities in the world to have its streets laid out on a grid plan, an idea that its planners borrowed from neighboring Miletus.

The city was laid out on several levels. The flat, fertile fields you see today in the Meander River (Büyük Menderes Nehri) flood plain were in fact covered by the Aegean Sea in ancient times, allowing ships to sail right to Priene's harbor.

Portions of the great walls 7 feet (2 meters) thick that surrounded the city are still easily visible. The gymnasium and stadium were on the lower slopes of the hill, below the table land. The acropolis was farther up the slopes of Mount Mykale.

Today you approach Priene from the town of Güllübahçe, 34 km (21 miles) south of Kuşadası and 54 km (33 miles) south of Selçuk and Ephesus by way of Söke.

Drive up a ramp to the parking area, buy your ticket, then walk uphill for about 10 minutes along a stone-paved street by the city walls to reach the table land. Toilets and simple snacks are usually available by the parking lot.

Nearby Güllübahçe has shady tea houses, simple restaurants and a few small pensions.

Founded by the legendary Aegyptus, Priene prospered around 550 BC, but was captured by Cyrus of Persia in 545 BC. It was a center for activities of the Ionian League around 300 BC. It later became a Roman city, then Byzantine, and was still active when captured by the Turks in the late 1200s.

After you've explored Priene, head for Miletus, 22 km (14 miles) south across the Meander flood plain.

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