The Aegean coast of Turkey epitomizes summer. The historic towns and villages, which were inhabited primarily by Greeks under the Ottoman Empire before the establishment of the Turkish republic in 1923, are reviving, attracting a new wave of tourists, and defining a contemporary Aegean culture. Dishes are ready with the district’s sun-doused spices and produce, olive oil from its numerous forests and fish directly from the Aegean. Wines from nearby grape plantations are opened up and mixed drinks are rethought with neighborhood fixings.
Close by exemplary ocean side towns like Bodrum and Alaçatı, two of the coast’s loveliest spots are the mostly secret shoreline town of Ayvalık and the close by island of Cunda. The pair are located across the water from the Greek island of Lesbos, about 100 miles north of Izmir.
Ottoman architecture and Greek churches
During the Ottoman era, Ayvalk was the center of olive oil production. While wandering the winding cobblestone alleys that lead past historic churches and old stone houses with colorful window shutters, you can still see the chimneys of Ayvalk’s old factories.
The engineering mirrors its set of experiences, with Greek and Ottoman structures one next to the other. The “narl” Mosque, which was once the Greek Orthodox church of Ayios Yorgis and was built in 1790, stands out with its ionic columns and cinquefoil windows. In contrast, the Taksiyarhis Memorial Museum is a Greek Orthodox cathedral that was constructed in 1844 and is not a museum in and of itself. Utilized as a stockroom in the twentieth hundred years and afterward deserted, it’s been reestablished to its previous greatness, complete with finished marble sections and frescoed vaults.
Shopping with artisans
The old houses of Ayvalk are a great place for ateliers and artisan workshops. As a result, most of the shopping in the center is for handmade goods, whether they are made of wood, ceramic, or textiles.
Close to the Taksiyarhis Remembrance Exhibition hall, in a perfectly redesigned notable house with huge curved windows, is Moyy Atölye. Owner Zlem Erol collaborates with female local artisans to produce organic clothing from feretiko, a traditional Black Sea region of Turkey hand-woven hemp cloth.
Santimetre’s porcelain studio is in a renovated neoclassical townhouse near the water. Hand-cast, glazed dinnerware by designer Tulya Madra, who has also worked in New York, is famous for its Aegean blues, soft pinks, greens, and sunny yellows.
Modern Aegean eats
Ayvalk’s cuisine is truly Aegean, with dishes based on local and fresh ingredients. It is close to the sea and surrounded by olive groves and orchards. Inside a revamped old house with child blue window outlines, Sofia Ayvalık serves present day Aegean dishes incorporating pilaf with coriander and artichoke, stuffed dried tomatoes with sharp cherries, and celery soup with sage and rosemary. It’s totally joined by neighborhood wines, and tables are set up in the back street outside as well as higher up neglecting the ocean.
One of Ayvalk’s most popular restaurants is Cleto’s, which is inside an olive oil factory that has been repurposed. It is right by the sea. The elegant restaurant, which was opened by chef Anacleto Salciccia and his wife Funda Kocada Salciccia, serves traditional Italian dishes like linguine with squid ink and prawns and seabass carpaccio with lemon mayonnaise.
Karina Ayvalk, located in the village of Küçükköy, is worth the 10-minute drive south for a truly Aegean dining experience within an olive grove. The menu is a declaration of the couple zge and Sinan Sabuncu’s love for fresh, local Aegean ingredients. Think seafood pasta or grilled calamari, paired with carefully selected wines from the region.
The region’s identity is still centered on olive oil. Likewise in Küçükköy, Kürşat Ayvalık – the locale’s most regarded olive oil maker – as of late redesigned their factory, adding an extra structure to house a gallery, shop and eatery. Siblings Zeynep and Ali Kürşat run a Crete-based family business and continue their grandparents’ tradition of hand-harvesting olives to avoid bruising the fruit.
Simple Aegean dishes like seabass ceviche with capers and orange zest and rolled phyllo dough with local cheese, oregano, and wild honey are available at their restaurant, Ayna, which is 15 minutes northwest of Ayvalk on the nearby island of Cunda.
‘I feel history as I walk’
Istanbul-based picture taker and paper design craftsman Deniz Yılmaz Akman has spent the last 20 summers at her family home in Ayvalık, catching the town’s local people and its many secret corners with her focal point. One of her favorite photogenic locations is the historic houses on April 13th Street, also known as Nisan Caddesi.
“Ayvalık is a late spring escape that likewise has the vibe of a city,” she says. ” I can take in the Aegean air and feel history as I stroll through the old roads with their notable houses. It’s a place where I can spend the day at a historic café or in an antique shop, taste modern Aegean cuisine at a hip restaurant, and sip cocktails at a hip bar.
“Visitors should attend a classical music concert at the Ayvalk International Music Academy,” I say. attempt the well known nearby dark mulberry and harsh grape juices at Camlı Kahve; attempt muhallebi [milk pudding] with mastic at Macaron Muhallebicisi, and mastic treats and frozen yogurt at Imren Pastanesi.”
She also recommends cafe eytan’n Kahvesi’s famous Ayvalk toast, which is made with melted cheese, Turkish fermented sausage, and pickles, and restaurant Hüsnü Baban’n Yeri’s fried cuttle fish and mezze.
Cunda is a popular summer getaway for Turks because it is connected to Ayvalk by a causeway. During the day, they walk around the small island and at night, they eat and drink at the restaurants and bars in the crowded Hayat Caddesi area near the beach. Modern Italian restaurant L’arancia, with its Sicilian-inspired decor, and third-wave coffee shop Nona, which serves excellent cappuccinos and lemon cheesecake, are two of the local favorites. Cocktail bars like Orman and eşni are packed with young people drinking craft cocktails made with elderflower, satsuma, and linden, which are some of the best local ingredients.
The historic Taş Kahve café serves cups of freshly roasted Turkish coffee, and the street where Cumhuriyet Forn bakes bread and pastries smells of freshly baked goods since the 1990s.
Off the principal drag, Cunda is more peaceful. In gardens along the winding alleys that climb uphill and away from the shore, pomegranate trees are covered in a bounty of fruit. As stray dogs take a nap beneath flowering vines, residents sweep the fallen leaves off their front steps.
Getting lost on Cunda prompts revelations – like the Cunda Taksiyarhis Rahmi M. Koç Gallery inside a redesigned Greek Universal church with an assortment of classical vehicles, cruisers and toys. One more safeguarded structure was once in a condition of dilapidation yet which, reused, is currently loaded with life.
And so to bed
So, where do we stay? Ayvalık’s most one of a kind get-away rentals were made by the planner couple Erdoğan Altındiş and Gabriele Kern-Altındiş who run Manzara, an assortment of configuration forward homes in both Istanbul and Ayvalık. The properties here comprise of five painstakingly reestablished stone houses with disconnected gardens, ocean perspectives and current insides, while protecting safeguarded noteworthy compositional subtleties. In any case, on the town’s seafront is Estate Pietra Inn, with its café cantilevered over the water.
In the same-named village, the Küçükköy Otel has pretty rooms with exposed brick walls and a quiet little pool.
Engin Reis lives in a renovated stone house on a quiet side street in Cunda. It is one of the most elegant hotels on the island and has a coastal style with white linens and wicker furniture.