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ŞİRİNCE

The "rather pretty" town                       Population: 600

Sirince1

Old name: Çirkince, Kırkınca

What would you do if you were living in a little piece of paradise and didn’t want to have to share it with the rest of the world?

Well, one rather sneaky possibility would be to give it a name so deceptive that no one would suspect a thing.

So it was that the hillside village above Selçuk, which now basks in the name of Şirince (Rather Pretty), was originally given the name Çirkince (Rather Ugly) by the group of freed Greek slaves who settled there in the 15th century and didn’t want their rural idyll disturbed.

That's how one story goes anyway, although another suggests that the old name came into being when a man who had been asked about his village described it as ‘rather ugly’.

Yet another tall tale suggests that the village was first settled by 40 freed slaves, hence its alternative name of Kırkınca, in reality almost certainly a corruption of Çirkince.

Of course the ‘Greeks’ left in the 1924 population exchange, their place taken by ‘Turks’ from around Salonica. Shortly afterwards, an İzmir governor, apparently enthralled by the village march composed by the local school teacher, decreed the name change that risked giving the game away.

Actually, it took a surprisingly long time for outsiders to cotton on to the charms of Şirince – even in the early 1990s it was a rare visitor who ventured up here.

These days, however, the sceret is well and truly out, and coach-loads of visitors regularly arrive to mob a village full of Safranbolu-style wooden houses which cling to cobbled terraces cut into the hillside and beg to be photographed.

Most of these houses were built in the 19th century by villagers who were making a good living from the sale of peaches, grapes, olives, tobacco and figs. Today most have been painstakingly restored by owners who make an equally good living selling lace and fruit wines to visitors.

SirincechurchThe pleasures of a visit to Şirince are low-key, although you can visit the two old Greek churches - St John’s, which has been restored and is open to visitors, and St Demetrius, which is currently being repaired (2012).

There's also a small local museum inside the Artemis Restaurant. 

What if you hate crowds, and don’t fancy being badgered to look at lace or buy a bottle of wine? The best way to appreciate Şirince’s more subtle charms is to book a couple of nights in one of several boutique hotels inside the old houses. That way you get to explore the streets in peace once the groups have departed for the night.

Its prettiness aside, for most visitors the really great thing about Şirince is its proximity to the remains of Ephesus (Efes), erstwhile capital of the Roman province of Asia Minor. 

The Mayan debacle. In 2012 Şirince was caught up in a weird episode when somehow many people came to believe that it was one of only a handful of places that would survive the end of the Mayan Long Calendar. Needless to say the date came and went with hotels full of journalists and no end of the world. 

sirincewine

Drinking

The Artemis Restaurant housed in what was once the local school is a popular place to try out the fruit wines although you'll see them on sale all round town. 

Sleeping

İlyastepe 

Tel: 0232-898 3208, www.nisanyan.com

Kırkınca Pansiyon 

Tel: 0232-898 3133, www.kirkinca.com

Nişanyan Hotel

 

Transport info

Şirince is within easy reach of İzmir airport. Many bus companies serve Selçuk, with an hourly dolmuş continuing from Selçuk otogar to Şirince.

Day trip destinations

Ephesus (Efes)

Kuşadası

Meryemana

Pamucak

Selçuk

Seven Sleepers

 

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