Popular beaches, invigorating hot springs, a lively nightlife and beautiful marina’s: You can find it all in Çeşme, a district located approximately 85 kilometres West of Izmir. Çeşme means fountain and it is one of Turkey’s most prominent tourism centres. Here wealthy Turkish people, from Izmir and nowadays the jet set from Istanbul as well, own super expensive country retreats and during the summer months there is continuous coming and going of luxurious yachts. Foreign tourists as well are increasingly finding their way to this holiday paradise with its forever blowing wind.
Çeşme is located a good eight hours drive from Alanya. It is the name of a district on the extreme western tip of Turkey but it is also the name of a city within that district. Within the Çeşme district you will find places like Alaçatı, Ilıca, Paşalimanı, Şifne, Ardıç, Boyalık, Dalyan, Ovacık, Ildır and Germiyan. Turkey has many beautiful seaside destinations and Çeşme is one of them. It is a well-known vacation resort for the wealthy – and famous- Turkish tourist. The golden beaches of Çeşme are thé places to be seen but they come with a price tag. Of course there are public beaches too which you can visit free of charge and these are also just as beautiful!
Because the beach was deserted and the wind was still blowing quite hard, we decide to find a place along the promenade in the centre of Çeşme to enjoy the local famous ‘Kumru’ sandwiches. Kumru means dove and the sandwiches get there name from the shape of the bread. We sit overlooking the harbour and see the cruise ships departing for tours along Greece and the Greek islands.
Çesme means ‘fountain’ and it probably takes its name for the many wells and Ottoman fountains that can be found scattered through the region. Up to the middle Ages, Çeşme wasn’t considered to be of great value. That started to change from the beginning of the 19th century. The trade in fruit and wine flourished and its population continued to increase. The inhabitants of Çeşme were predominantly Greek. However, after the First World War, most of them moved to the nearby Greek islands. This was due to the population exchange between Turkey and Greece after the proclamation of the Republic of Turkey in 1923. Turks who had lived in Greece until then, came to Turkey and their place was taken by Greeks who had been living in Turkey until then.
The Çeşme district developed into a popular site for the wealthy of Izmir. They bought a villa or country house to escape the heat and bustle of the city during weekends and holidays. When the infrastructure between Izmir and Çeşme improved, the seaside resort was also discovered by the ‘rich & famous’ from Istanbul. Although Çeşme in recent decades has thus experienced tremendous growth, the government has been able to preserve the authenticity of the area. You won’t find high-rise, all-inclusive resorts or excessive neon lights. The original architecture is still evident everywhere. In winter, many restaurants, hotels and shops close and the region appears calm and deserted.
Many other places in the Çeşme district are well worth visiting too. This particularly applies to the famous wind surfing paradise Alaçatı. Alaçatı – at 5km southeast of Cesme- is considered one of the best places in the world for windsurfing. Especially for beginners, it is an ideal environment. Alaçatı owes its image to the nearly two kilometres wide bay and the ever-present, constant winds. These winds blow from north to south in summer, and in winter from South to North. The sea is shallow for the first 500 feet from the shore line; this provides the perfect learning conditions for beginners.
For those who do not come to surf, the old centre of Alaçatı is an experience in itself. From afar, the three windmills that symbolise this place, can be seen. You can reach them by a road flanked on both sides by pine trees. The streets are small and paved with shiny pebbles and the original Greek atmosphere prevails. There are a multitude of restaurants, shops and coffee houses throughout and eyes fall short in experiencing all the colours and details.
This article is published in Hello Alanya Magazine November 2014 and updated on 13 March 2017.
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