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ERYTHRAE (ILDIRI)

                                                                     Population: 100

ildiri1Old name: Erythrae (Greek)

Market day: Monday

On the western side of the Karaburun (Çeşme) Peninsula north of Çeşme is one village that is truly picturesque, the prettiest by far on the whole peninsula.

This is Ildırı which was built on the coast right over the ruins of ancient Erthyrae and mainly, from the looks of it, reusing almost all the old materials. That means that it's hard to be absolutely certain of the age of many of the houses and warehouses dotted about the back streets, although there are a few standout late 19th-century Rum (Greek) houses with fine facades.

One of the few absolutely modern buildings is the mosque which was put up in the 1960s, adding little to the aesthetics of the village although its minaret makes a handy landmark when following the path back downhill from the ruins.

There's a pretty little fishing harbour behind the mosque.

Ruins of Erythrae

The actual ruins of Erythrae are fairly minor and scattered over a wide area. However, the main site has a simply stunning hillside location with spectacular sea views on all sides. 

The bus from Çeşme will drop you near the main part of the site. You walk uphill to the pretty Agora Cafe and the gate in the fence is immediately opposite. 

erythrae1The first thing you will see is the stepped base of a Heroon, a temple dedicated to a hero specific to the city.

Then you skirt the edge of a field which appears to cover the old agora and come to the remains of the theatre, buit in the 3rd century BC and then improved in the 2nd century AD during the reign of Hadrian. Compared with other sites not a lot survives here, although you can make out where the tiers of seast would have been, and where the stage was, with steps going donw beneath it, perhaps for wild animals to emerge in gladiator shows (?).

If you climb the steps in the middle of the theatre you will emerge on a rough path (sturdy shoes a good idea) that leads to the acropolis on the summit of the hill.

Here stand the shattered and graffiti-covered ruins of the 19th-century Madrone Church and of a deep cistern, just steps away from the remains of a Temple to Athena Polias which appears to date back to second half of the 8th century BC - take a look at the massive polygonal stones used to build the walls without any cement.

A 6th-century BC statue of a kore that was found here is now on display in İzmir's Archaeological Museum.

It's from up here that you get the fantastic views down over Ildırı village, a string of undeveloped offshore islands and the adjacent bay which is likely to be full of yachts in high summer. erythrae2Archaic Temple of Athena on Acropolis

If you come out of the gate opposite the Agora Cafe and turn right the path will lead you round to scant ruins labelled "Hellentistic remains" which look as if they may be of houses or shops.

From behind them a path winds downhill towards the back of Ildırı. It should bring you out near two more enclosures that go unlabelled. One contains the remains of what looks like the lower agora (although it could conceivably be of a basilican church?). The second appears to contain a very overgrown stretch of the city wall

One last piece of the site can be found if you walk back along the coast road towards Çeşme.

Just as you come to the end of Ildırı you'll see a sign pointing out onto the headland where the remains of several fine Roman villas with mosaic floors were uncovered. Don't get too excited though. Most of the site is fenced off and the mosaics have been covered over again for their protection so all you can see are the low walls of the houses. 

Eating

Ildırı does not yet rise to the standards of somewhere like Selimiye on the Reşadiye Peninsula but it does already have a few colourful cafes (Turquaz Cafe and Cafe Şirin) that serve things like frozen pomegranate juice. 

On the northern outskirts of the village an inviting fish restaurant called Balıklama stands on its own opposite a rough shingle beach. 

Sleeping

Herakles Butik Otel. Promising-looking hotel in fine stone house on southern side of centre. Tel: 0232-725 1025

Kaya Prestige Sunshine Hotel. More conventional holiday hotel in adjacent bay. Tel: 0232-725 1500

Transport info

Half-hourly buses connect Ildırı and Çeşme. From Çeşme they leave at quarter past and quarter to the hour from a stop on Atatürk Bulvarı opposite the Adalet Sarayıy (Palace of Justice). From Ildırı they leave on the hour and half-hour from the village centre.

All these services transit Alacatı and Ilıca too.

Day trip destinations

Alacatı

Çeşme

Çeşme Peninsula

Ilıca

İzmir

ildiri2Old Greek house in Ildırı

 

 

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