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- SIGHTS & LANDMARKS
- THINGS TO DO
Çeşme is a coastal town and the administrative centre of the district of the same name in Turkey's westernmost end, on a promontory on the tip of the peninsula which also carries the same name and which extends inland to form a whole with the wider Karaburun Peninsula. It is a popular holiday resort and the district center, where two thirds of the district population is concentrated. Çeşme is located 85 km west of İzmir, the largest metropolitan center in Turkey's Aegean Region. There is a six-lane highway connecting the two cities (Otoyol 32). Çeşme district has two neighboring districts, Karaburun to the north and Urla to the east, both of which are also part of İzmir Province. The name "Çeşme" means "fountain" and possibly draws reference from the many Ottoman fountains that are scattered across the city.
The urban center and the port of the region in antiquity was at Erythrae (present-day Ildırı), in another bay to the north-east of Çeşme.
The town of Çeşme itself lived its golden age in the Middle Ages when a modus vivendi established in the 14th century between the Republic of Genoa, which held Chios (Scio), and the Beylik of Aydinids, which controlled the Anatolian mainland, was pursued under the Ottomans, and export and import products between western Europe and Asia were funneled via Çeşme and the ports of the island, only hours away and tributary to Ottomans but still autonomous after 1470. Chios became part of the Ottoman Empire in an easy campaign led by Piyale Pasha in 1566. In fact the Pasha simply laid anchor in Çeşme and summoned the notables of the island to notify them of the change of authority. After the Ottoman capture and through preference shown by the foreign merchants, the trade hub gradually shifted to İzmir, which until then was touched only tangentially by the caravan routes from the east, and the prominence of the present-day metropolis became more pronounced after the 17th century. In 1770, the Çeşme bay became the location of naval Battle of Chesma between Russian and Ottoman fleets during Russo-Turkish War (1768–1774).
Çeşme regained some its former lustre starting with the beginning of the 19th century, when its own products, notably grapes and mastic, found channels of export. The town population increased considerably until the early decades of the 20th century, immigration from the islands of the Aegean and the novel dimension of a seasonal resort center becoming important factors in the increase. The viniculture was for the most part replaced with the growing of watermelons in recent decades, which acquired another name of association with Çeşme aside from the thermal baths, surfing, fruits, vineyards, cheese, tourism and history.
Transportation - Get In
There are several ways to get to Çeşme, it's a half an hour drive from Izmir by car, and there are several bus companies that will drive you to Çeşme from Izmir on any time of the day. Buses from Çeşme to Izmir at the time of writing are around TL 10, ie around €5.
There is one, possibly two, daily ferry(ies) to Çeşme from the Greek island of Chios, the boat ride takes slightly over an hour and costs the whopping sum (for such a short ride) of €23 one-way or €40 return.
Bus services are also available from Istanbul, the route lasts approximately 8 hours.
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Beaches in Cesme
It is possible to swim almost anywhere in Cesme, the water is super clean and people can be seen swimming even just near the harbour. Summer residents staying at their summer homes usually have their small daily-use beaches close to their homes but we've compiled this list to illustrate the best beaches in Cesme. Here they are in alphabetical order:
Leave the town of Alacati towards Windsurf Paradise, pass the Windsurf Paradise and continue down the coast. A little ways ahead (about 3-5 kilometers) you will begin to see beautiful sandy coves to swim in. The best spot is a beach club known in the past as Seaside, today named Bobou Beach Club. Definitely check it out while in Cesme.
Translated as Golden Sand Beach, this beach is famous for its natural beauty, cold water and its pristine sand.
Aya Yorgi Beach
Aya Yorgi Bay and the beaches there are made famous by such world class beach clubs as Marrakech, Babylon and Sole Mare. Paparazzi, a Cesme classic, is also at Aya Yorgi.
Izmir residents who have their summer homes in Cesme usually dream about Boyalik Beach during the winter.
Ilica Beach is Cesme's most famous and well known beach hands down. It is also known as a public beach. It is completely vulnerable to northerly winds. On less windy days, Ilica has one of the clearest waters you will find anywhere. But usually the area is quite breezy or even windy, so ready yourselves for some mid-size waves. Because of the shallow water, even the wind and waves can be fun at Ilica. The sand on the beach is exquisite and the water is quite warm thanks to the underwater hot springs in the area. On the left of this beach is the Cesme Sheraton Hotel and on the right side is the Ceshme Plus Hotel. You can pay to use the facilities and parasols at several of the beach clubs on the sand or you can comfortably take your own equipment. Weekends in July and August are super crowded, so beware.
Kocakari Beach - Dalyan
We don't know where the name came from (it means Old Woman Beach), but this is Dalyan's best beach. Because it's protected against the north winds, it's usually pretty calm. You can see its location on the map above.
Pasa Limani Beach
Because Pasa Limani and its region is full of small coves, there isn't a big beach to speak of but the water is beautiful here. There is a beach club with facilities worth checking out if you're in the area named Dodo Beach Club.
Pirlanta Beach is in one of Cesme's westernmost areas, and it overlooks the Greek island of Chios. Like Ilica, it is open to the north winds. This pretty sandy beach has become the center of Cesme's kite surf activities and you will usually see dozens of kite surfers here. It is still very comfortable as a swimming beach though. You can see the location of Pirlanta Beach from our map above.
- Kumru — a kind of local warm sandwich. Tasty, it is made with a special bread originally stuffed with salami, Turkish garlic-flavoured sausage (sucuk), grilled cheese and tomatoes; nowadays a vegetarian version is also available if you ask for it, prepared without the sausage and with the addition of green pepper. Most famous eatery specialized in kumru is Kumrucu Sevki at downtown.
- Ice cream (dondurma) — Veli Usta is a great place to have an ice-cream. There are lots of flavors available, including very local balbadem (honey and almond) and black currant, which are the most favorite flavors.
Sights & Landmarks
- Çeşme Castle (Çeşme Kalesi) (at the town centre). A well-preserved citadel by the shore.
- Old town. Old part of the town (virtually all of downtown) has lots of neo-classical buildings from late 1800s/early 1900s that wouldn't be out of place in, say, Symi, which are well preserved and are quite elegant.
Things to do
Windsurfing in Cesme
Çeşme is known as the windsurfing and kite-surfing capital of Turkey, and the third best surfing resort in the world.. Alaçatı, a town located here, offers the ideal location for surfing, and this is where all the surfing schools are located. Surf Festivals take place here every year. Alaçatı is unique as the depth of the water does not go deeper than 1 meter for over 700 meters off shore and the area receives heavy winds.
Ilıca is a large resort area 5 km east of Çeşme to which it is attached administratively, although it bears aspects of a township apart in many of its characteristics. It is famed for its thermal springs, which is the very meaning of its name.
Ilıca started out as a distinct settlement towards the end of the 19th century, initially as a retreat for wealthy people, especially from İzmir and during summer holidays. Today, it is a popular destination for many. Mentioned by Pausanias and Charles Texier, Ilıca thermal springs, which extend well into the sea, are also notable in Turkey for having been the subject of the first scientifically based analysis in Turkish language of a thermal spring, published in 1909 by Yusuf Cemal. By his time the thermal springs were well-known both internationally, scientific and journalistic literature having been published in French and in Greek, and across Ottoman lands, since the construction here of a still-standing yalı associated with Muhammad Ali of Egypt's son Tosun Pasha who had sought a cure in Ilıca before his premature death.
Ilıca has a fine beach of its own, about 1.5 km long, as well as favorable wind conditions which make it a prized location for windsurfing.
One of the main landmarks of Ilıca is the Sheraton hotel.