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ALACATI

Old Greek village turned upmarket urban retreat                  Population: 9,500

alacat1Old name: Agrilia

Market day: Saturday

Nine km southeast of Çeşme on the Çeşme peninsula, Alaçatı is arguably Turkey's most trendy holiday destination at least if you're a well-heeled İstanbullu or İzmirli.

Originally Alaçatı was a small settlement which had, until the population exchange of 1923, a majority Greek population. They lived in delightful stone cottages with walled back gardens, a surprising number of which survived miraculously intact until the 2000s when suddenly they were almost all converted into upmarket hotels and restaurants.

What makes Alaçatı such a particular pleasure to the eye is that there has been an usual degree of central planning behind its restoration. As a result all the conversions that have taken place have been very similar, resulting in a pleasing multiplicity of stone-walled hotels with pale blue doors and window-frames, and neatly jutting out cumba bay windows. About a hundred buildings have been identified for protection; a book by the local conservation committee describes the work being done to ensure their survival.alacati3

Backstory

In the 1830s Greeks from Chios were brought to Alaçatı to help clear the malarial marshes nearby. Some were given land on which they established vineyards and gradually a new Greek town, called Alatzata, developed inland from the coast. 

During the disruption of the First Balkan War (1912-13) Bosnians and Albanians arrived in Alaçatı and some of the Greeks left. In 1923 the remaining "Greeks" left and their place was taken by "Turks" from Thessaloniki, Kavala, Crete and Kos. 

For 70 years little happened in Alaçatı which was a virtual ghist town in the 1990s. In 2001 the first hotel, the Taş Otel, opened its doors and the rest is rampant tourism history. 

Around town

Today the first thing you see once you get past the modern development that encases the lovely old villace centre is a line-up of restored windmills on the hillside, a reminder of the strong winds that once offered a vital power supply, and now ensure that the area is known throughout Turkey as a windsurfing centre. In the distance you will also be able to see some of the modern wind turbines that run out along the isthmus linking İzmir to Çeşme.

For non-windsurfers, it's the pretty streets lined with stone houses that are the real drawcard. Zeynep Öziş was one of the first people to realize the potential for turning the houses into boutique hotels, and her Alaçatı Taş (Stone) Hotel remains one of the finest amongst a string of great places to stay, including one designed to look like an old windmill, and another modeled on a medieval monastery.

The one specific attraction you might like to take a look at is the huge Pazaryeri Cami  (Marketplace Mosque) that was created out of the Greek Orthodox church of Ayios Constantinos dating back to 1874 after the 1923 Graeco-Turkish population exchange. Unuusally the lovely screen with its painted icons has been left intact and merely screened from the view of modern worshippers.

Outside the ground is laid with a spendid blackand white pebble mosaic in which the double-headed eagle symbol of old Byzantium can be seen.

alacati4Those houses that have not been turned into hotels have metamorphosed into gourmet restaurants to give Istanbul a run for its money; try the super-swish Tuval, the trendy fish restaurant Su Dan, or Cafe Agrilia, which moves location with astonishing regularity, for starters, although every season sees new places join the list of eateries, each trying its best to outbid the next in the stylishness of its decor and the originality of its menu.

The sandy bay where the windsurfers get their kicks is 3km out of town, and well-supplied with surf shops selling equipment and offering courses for everyone from beginners through to experts.

A handful of pensions and hotels cater to the surfers with prices at slightly less stratospheric levels than those in Alaçatı itself. In high summer a branch of !stanbul's Babylon nightclub opens here so that live music can compete with the roar of the waves.

Tip: Unfortunately the lovely village streets were never designed to cater for the crowds they now attract, and in July and August it can be a battle to make your way through the crush of holidaymakers. Do yourself a favour and visit in the shoulder season -- although be warned that local hoteliers and restaurateurs  shut their doors at the first sign of a dip in trade.alacati5

Sleeping

Manastır Alaçatı Otel

Adaçatı Konukevi

Bey Evi

Değirmen HoteTel: 0232-716 6714 

Alaçatı Sakızlı Han Tel: 0232-716 6108 

Lale Lodge Tel: 0232-716 7999 

Sailorsotel Ev ve Meydan Tel: 0232-716 8765 

Taş Otel

Eating

Agrilia

Roka Bahçesi

Su Dan Tel: 0232-716 7797, www.su-dan-cafe.com, Mithat Paşa Caddesi No. 22 

Day trip destinations

Altınkum

Çeşme

Dalyan

Ilıca

Ildırı/Erythrae

İzmir

Urla

Transport info

The nearest airport is in İzmir.

There are frequent dolmuşes from Çeşme to Alaçatı via Ilıca. In high summer they run every five minutes or so until the early hours of the morning.

To get to Alaçatı beach you need to take another dolmuş marked Sörf and Solto but this only runs every half-hour.

alacati6Pebble mosaic pavement in front of church-mosque

Events Calendar

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