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KUŞADASI

The old Scala Nuova                     Population: 95,000

kusad1Old names: Neapolis, Scala Nuova

Market days: Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday

Boozy hellhole or exciting Aegean holiday resort? Kuşadası is one of those places that attracts both battalions of devoted fans and a good deal of knocking copy.

The problem is that it has so outgrown its original boundaries that it’s sometimes hard to see what made it attractive to tourists in the first place. But just as you’re grumpily thinking this you’ll find yourself on the terrace of your hotel as the sun is going down and all of a sudden the myriad noisy bars and the shops selling tacky souvenirs will seem but a distant memory.

Around town

The most interesting part of Kuşadası is the area towards the harbour that is called Kaleiçi (the Inner Castle). Look for the surviving medieval tower-gate beyond which the main shopping street crudely divides the area into two.kusad2

It takes a bit of imagination to see it but Kuşadası actually started life as a harbour town used by Italian merchants in the 14th century when it was called Scala Nuova (New Harbour). Very slight traces of the sea walls still survive on the inland side of the coast road. The attractive castle on Güvercin Adası (Pigeon Island) dates from this period. The 17th-century traveller Evliya Çelebi says that it acquired its name because it was a popular resting place for migratory birds.

Kusadasi1

In 1612 Öküz Mehmet Paşa (1550-1662) was responsible for building a huge new caravanserai on the waterfront. In 2013 it finally abandoned the effort to operate as a hotel although it still acts as a carpet showroom and venue for Turkish nights.

The caravanserai is on one side of the main shopping street. If you cross to the other side and duck into the area called the Old Bazaar you will come upon the delightful Kaleiçi Cami that is contemporary with the caravanserai; its courtyard is a blissful oasis from the hurly-burly outside and even contains a few fragments of Roman masonry testifying to an earlier settlement on the site. The Turkish bath nearby once formed part of the same mosque complex. The surrounding streets are full of whitewashed Ottoman houses that are easy to overlook amid all the shops. 

The pedestrianized shopping centre is frankly disheartening, but the new marina has brought a much-needed injection of upscale shopping and eating options. So what that it’s another branch of Starbucks - - the view is to die for.

OttkusBut perhaps the most interesting part of Kuşadası is the area tucked away above the harbour and approached via some very steep streets. Here you will find many more fine old Ottoman houses, once in a poor state of repair but about to be given a complete makeover which will probably mean many more boutique hotels. There's a second Turkish bath up here. Compared with those in İstanbul its prices seem very reasonable. 

The Old Town Tanneries is a development on the site of the early Republican-era leather tanneries where stone buildings have been restored to serves as a tourism and entertainment centre behind the DoubleTree Hilton Hotel. There's a small museum on site and several cafes amid small art galleries. Sadly when I visited it was virtually empty. 

Kuşadası has several small beaches including one right in the town centre. Kadınlar Denizi (Ladies Beach), to the south and accessible by bus,  is very popular despite being very built-up with the sort of restaurants that make much of their all-day full English breakfasts. North of town the Kuştur Beach is less built-up but has the main Kuşadası-Selçuk road running behind it.Ladiesbeach

Classier are the private beach clubs on Yılancı Burnu (Snake Headland) just south of Pigeon Island. 

Eating & Drinking

Kuşadası used to have rather a rough reputation when it came to food, serving up rather too many "full Englsh breakfasts" for many people's tastes. Recently things have been looking up a bit in particular on the seafront leading north towards the new Marina where many popular Turkish chains and a few one-off places now offer much more reliable food.

Sleeping

Anzac Golden Bed Pension

As high up in Kuşadası's old quarter as you can get (and making a joke of it) is this smart  backpacker favourite. Tel: 0256-614 8708

Efe Boutique Hotel 

Right by the water as you walk towards Güvercin Island, this hotel, tiered so many rooms have sea views and with a pub on the ground floor is one of a new generation of more upmarket hotels. Tel: 0256-614 3660

Hotel Kismet 

In splendid isolation, this historic hotel is the most interesting in town although it's very expensive and some people think it a tad old-fashioned. Tel: 0256-618 1290

Liman Hotel 

Villa Konak 

17-room boutique hotel in the old, upper part of  Kuşadası with attractve rooms set round an inviting garden. Tel: 0256-612 2170

kusad3Behind the tourist facade Kuşadası still retains its old Turkish quarterTransport info

The nearest airport is in İzmir.

There are frequent buses from İzmir, Selçuk and Aydın to Kuşadası. 

In summer there are daily ferries to and from the Greek island of Samos. 

Day trip destinations

Hoteliers and local travel agents will happily organize a trip to Ephesus for you. Alternatively pop to Selçuk by public transport and walk to the ruins.

Aydın

Claros (Ahmetbeyli)

Dilek National Park

Ephesus (Efes) 

Eski Doganbey

Güllübahçe

Kirazlıköy

İzmir

Özdere

Pamucak

Priene

Samos

Seferihisar

Selçuk

Söke

Read more about what to see around Kuşadası: http://www.todayszaman.com/newsDetail.action;jsessionid=GKzTSoSY25OUyLp8h+NAgETt?newsId=323654&columnistId=0

Read more about what to see around Kuşadası: http://www.todayszaman.com/newsDetail.action;jsessionid=GKzTSoSY25OUyLp8h+NAgETt?newsId=324309&columnistId=0

kusad4Uphill the old Greek quarter is now being restored

 

 

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