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URLA (CLAZOMENAE)

Birthplace of George Seferis                     Population: 43,500

urla2Old Custom Houee, now Batis Restaurant

Old name: Hypocremnus

Market day: Friday

As you approach the Çeşme Peninsula from İzmir you'll come to the small town of Urla which played a footnote in literary history as the birthplace of Yorgo (George) Seferis (1900-71), the Nobel Prize-winning Greek poet whose family home has since been turned into a boutique hotel.

The town is divided into two parts. If you head north from the Uğur Mumcu Kavşağı (Junction) following the "Şehir Merkezi (Town Centre)" sign you will come to the heart of old Urla with several fine old mosques and many old houses and warehouses. If instead you head south from the junction to "İskele (Harbour)" you will come to Seferis's home close to the fishing harbour and to the scant remains of ancient Clazomenae. 

Note that the main İzmir-Çeşme motorway bypasses Urla completely.

Town centre

urla1In the town centre you might want to track down the Necati Cumalı Anı ve Kültür Evi, a stone mansion that serves as a memorial to Cumalı (1921-2001), a writer, born in Greece, whose family settled in Urla following the Graeco-Turkish population exchange in 1923.  It's theoretically open every day except Sunday and Monday although when I arrived there was no one to let me in.

If you keep walking around the back streets you should eventually stumble upon Sanat Sokağı where several of the lovely old houses have been spruced up and found new uses. 

Eventually you may also find the 16th-century Fatih İbrahim Bey Cami whose portico incorporates stonework presumably taken from the ruins of Clazomenae. This is true, too, of the small building in the courtyard that could be a medrese and even of the interior where several columns and capitals are obviously reused. 

In the vicinity of the mosque there are many fine mansions with cumbas (bay windows) rather like the ones in the Alsancak part of İzmir. Here, too, you will see several small olive-oil factories that have since ceased working. urla3Fatih İbrahim Bey Cami

Then there is the lovely little Hacı Turhan Kapan Cami whose brickwork incorporates piece of old Roman carving and whose şadırvan (ablutions fountain) has a painted ceiling depicting the ships that used to carry grapes away from Urla harbor (there's a similar painted şadırvan in İzmir too).

Internally, the mosque is in an unusually poor state of repair, its frescoed ceiling badly cracked. Just up the road you'll see the remains of the primary school that was once associated with the mosque. 

Urla's bazaar area is still very alluring, with vines shading the streets and a fine monumental fountain dating back to the early days of the republic. 

urla6Reconstructed ship on the site of ClazomenaeHarbour

The old Ionian colony of Clozemenae was on Liman Tepe looking down on the modern fishing harbour although there's precious little to see in the excavated sections still visible.

More interesting are the replica ancient ships in the shipyard right beisde the ruins that serves as Ankara University's underwater archaeology research station. 

The magnificent colonnaded building, erected in 1820, that was once the Customs House now serves as a restaurant and pastisserie while plans to convert it into a boutique hotel are on hold. It has therefore reverted to something of its original identity since in the early 20th century it belonged to a Greek, nicknamed Batis, who turned it into a coffeeshop-cum-tavern. It was abandoned in 1987 and restoration began in 2008.

The stone house that was home to Yorgo (George) Seferis is now a small hotel.

Eating

The waterfront hosts a few fish restaurants waiting to serve sunset-seeking diners; check prices carefully - I have been stung here.

More run-of-the-mill places to eat are clustered in the town centre.

Sleeping

Han Hotel, Town Centre. Tel: 0232-754 2077

Hotel Pera, Harbour. Tel: 0232-752 0050

Yorgo Seferis Evi, Harbour. Tel: 0232-752 0414

Transport info

To get one of the frequent buses to Urla from İzmir you need to head for the Üçkuyular western bus terminal rather than the main otogar. 

There are also a limited number of timetabled buses to Urla from Çeşme via Alacatı.

Day trip destinations

Alaçatı

Çeşme

İzmir

Read more: http://www.todayszaman.com/news-322559-twin-pearls-of-the-cesme-peninsula-alacati-and-urla.html
urla4Hacı Turhan Kapan Cami's painted şadırvan

 

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