Alaçatı – A Turkish Jewel

Currently, I’ve been travelling around Italy for a little less than a month now, and it’s been lovely to see so many new faces along the way. One thing that almost everyone I’ve met has in common is that when I mention that I live in Turkey, they seem to draw a relative blank as what that actually must be like, or at least offer me a puzzling look. The most common reaction is a raised eyebrow accompanied by the question, “why?”

Unfortunately, much of the press about Turkey tends to be negative, which is understandable in one sense, but unfair in another. It’s unfair as many of the joys and pleasures of Turkey are well hidden behind the headlines about protests, unrest and violence. It’s vitally important that those issues are brought to the international stage, but it’s also important to make the international community aware that Turkey has ever so much to offer, and many places worth visiting and experiencing.

Without question, Alaçatı is a town that’s worth visiting, and not just if you live in relatively nearby Istanbul like myself. This Aegean town, on the western coast of the provence of Izmir, is a quaint, charming place that allows you to quickly forget about the chaos of whatever city you left to get there (this is a particularly inviting thought when you live in Istanbul.) It has been famous throughout Turkey and surrounding countries for over a century due to that aforementioned charm, which is largely due to its beautiful architecture, narrow cobblestoned streets, quality food, as well as nearby vineyards. More recently, it has reinvented itself as a wind and kitesurfing capital, something I hope to go back and investigate for myself.

The town itself has an interesting history and feeling. Like many places in this area, Alaçatı had a large Greek population at one point, though not after the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne, which led to the massive population exchange between the Greeks and Turks. Turks came over across the Aegean to continue the legacy of the town, much of which was built by the Greeks. Today, Alaçatı is pouring with Turkish hospitality, and its proximity to a slew of desirable beaches make it a top destination. Nearby Çeşme can be reached by a short bus and is gaining popularity by the day, especially among Istanbul’s Turkish elite. While certainly not part of the Turkish elite, we did spend some time there as well while soaking up plenty of sun and enjoying the refreshing water.

The list of places I’ve been so far in Turkey isn’t exactly exhaustive just yet, but I can safely say that Alaçatı currently reigns supreme as my favourite Turkish town. Bri and I went with some of our best pals, Anjali and Jamie, and it really couldn’t have been a better visit.

The good news is that the historical significance of the town is well recognized in Turkey, and its stone houses are in the plans to be preserved for the foreseeable future. Furthermore, any new buildings have to adhere to the town’s architectural style – a style well worth protecting.

Just for its sheer beauty, Alaçatı is a spot that should make it onto your two week Turkey itinerary.

The allure of a place like Alaçatı is that every street seems worth stopping on, if only for a quick cup of Turkish çay. The list of things to see isn’t exactly expansive, which forces you to take notice of all that doesn’t normally make it into a guide book. You look for warm conversations, blooming flowers and climbing vines, a seat cushion with an intricate pattern, or a local restaurant with inviting smells. Sometimes it’s far too easy to forgot about the things that are perhaps most worth remembering, and, in Alaçatı, you’ll find them.

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