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BAYINDIR

Turkey's Flower Capital                              Population: 22,000

bayffOld name: Caystrus

Market day: Friday

Festival: Flower Festival, usually last week of April

The small town of Bayındır, near İzmir, sits at the heart of the part of Turkey where most of its garden plants are grown in kilometre after kilometre of nurseries running here from Torbalı.

It's an unexpectedly pleasant little place sitting against a hill with a picturesque old quarter centred on the Hacı Sinan mosque complex (under restoration in 2014).

Around town

The mosque complex makes a good place to start your explorations.bayff2

It dates back to 1496 and includes a hamam and other buildings that might have been a library and medrese, the latter with pillars and capitals from ancient Caystrus reused in its twin porticoes. 

Across the road from the mosque the Eski Hükümet Binası (Old Government Building) has been pleasingly converted into a small boutique hotel.

If you strike uphill behind the Eski Hükümet Binası you will come to a couple of small mosques and mescids -the Darül Kurra Cami and Çinli Mescid - that also retain traces of ancient Caystrus in their porticoes.

The eastern side of the old part of town on the hillside was once the Greek and Armenian quarter. The Armenian church dating back to 1857 has been completely restored and  provided with a rather unnecessary maroon cover. I was unable to get inside but the frescoed walls had obviously been repainted. Some old tombstones have been preserved against the outside walls.

bayff3The Greek Orthodox church has vanished without trace although the Papaz Evi, the fine house in which its priest ued to live, still survives. In the backstreets around it there are other fine old houses in varying states of repair as well as some fine views back down over the town. 

The Turkish quarter on the western side of the old part of town is not in as good a state of repair. Many of the houses are gecekondus presumably lived in by the people who work in the flower nurseries. Many were for sale when I visited in May 2014. 

Worth looking out for at the top of this quarter is what was once a large communal çamaşırhane (laundry) with a castellated back wall and a fine fountain at the front. It is disused now and completely neglected.

Back down in the newer part of town the Belediye Binası (Town Hall) is a magnificent stone structure with landscaped gardens at the back. If only all Turkish belediye buildings could look like this...

Also in the newer part of town is the Kent Müzesi (City Museum) housed in what was once the old stone-built Tekel Binası. Beautifully presented, it contains a lot of information about the efes, the Turkish paramilitaries who once roamed this part of the world wearing pretty outrageous costumes. bayff4

The Bayındır Friday market is one of the better ones to visit not least because it is frequented by old women from the local villages who wear a costume that includes a black cotton shawl with a white pattern around the edge that they calll a siyah çizgi or a peştamal. Strangely the shawls cannot be bought in Bayındir since they are made in nearby Ödemiş - where nobody wears them!

The siyah çizge comes paired with an önlük (apron) with thick vertical stripes rather like those worn around Rize on the Black Sea. 

Sleeping

Suotel

Transport info

There are buses from İzmir otogar to Bayındır ever half-hour, travelling via Gaziemir and Torbalı. During the festival they continue to run until early evening. 

Buses also connect Bayındır with Ödemiş.

Trains also connect Bayındır with İzmir and Aydın. 

Day trip desttinations

İzmir

Ödemiş

Tire

Torbalı (Metropolis)

Read more about my visit to Bayındır: http://www.todayszaman.com/columnist/pat-yale_347137_on-the-flower-trail.html

bayff6Photo in City Museum of local woman in siyah çizgi headscarf

bayff5What the fashionable efe about Bayındır used to wear

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