From Alaçati to Sirinçe

by | Feb 10, 2020 | Asia, Diaries, Turkey

These two villages may be apparently totally different – the first is on the coast while the second on a mountain – but they are both connected by history: a Greek history. 

Both Alaçati and Sirinçe were predominantly Greek villages of the Ottoman empire. There where 14.000 Greeks in Alaçati in 1895 while only 132 Turks, according to wikipedia. The same analogy was valid for Sirinçe. 

A pogrom against Greek inhabitants and a population exchange followed in 1922 and as a result, the people who live today in these two villages – among many others at the coast of Asia Minor – are descendants of Muslim Turks who used to live on soil which now is Greek. 

You can read much more about the Greek and Turkish history, which still is a matter of debate and friction between the two countries, so let me write only two words about these two villages as they stand today. 

Both Alaçati and Sirinçe are popular destinations for tourists from all over Europe, even from China. Subsequently their character is altered by this simple fact. From a distance, Sirinçe may look as it did a century ago but if you walk on its cobblestone streets, it’s overwhelmingly touristic.

Little shops sell the same stuff, from fruit wine to oil and from berries juice to jewellery. The place is very busy during weekends especially in spring and summertime. It was calm though when we visited it on Monday to Tuesday in February. 

Old Alaçati is extremely touristic and overwhelmed by the real estate development in its surroundings. If you drive there from Izmir or Çesme, you will hardly understand where the traditional village with the cobblestone streets and the stone houses stands. Strolling around there is a pleasant experience but still there are so many shops and restaurants that I can’t imagine how could life be there during summer months. And how many people want to take a walk there in August.

Locals advertise Alaçati as the Turkish Mykonos but there are hardly any similarities between the two: just 2-3 fancy restaurants in pure Mykonian style and nothing more.   

The best memory I bring from Sirinçe is the friendly conversation – while drinking sweet Turkish coffee – I had with the owners of a restaurant, who gave me many insights about modern Turkey and its politics.

People in the specific part of the vast country are more open minded, less religious and less Kemalists (or Erdoganists) than average. They just love Turkey and want to keep a modern, secular lifestyle. And they bring no negativity against Greeks. In contrary, they love them as their country!   

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