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Sığacık: Hidden beauty and unique tranquility

The cove of Sığacık immediately captures ones attention with its clean air and deep blue water. Its beauty waits silently for you at the end of the tangerine-scented road from İzmirs Seferihisar district just five kilometers away.

The lovely fishing village offers a unique ambience for those seeking peace and a trove of historical treasures for culture buffs.

Sığacıks name is the source of many different tales. According to some legends, a fishing boat was once caught in a storm on a dark night in the Aegean centuries ago. Stranded by the pitch black the fishermen thought that they were going to die. But they suddenly came across a ball of light, following it they safely arrived on land at this cove, naming it “Sığacık” — derived from “sığınmak,” meaning to take shelter.

This old, warm fishing village is home to a castle that guards its harbor and sits in a veritable cloud of historical atmosphere. Many houses back on to the well-maintained castle walls, creating a unique ambience.

The village was once the center of an old city-state. That is why this lovely coastal town is surrounded by city walls, left by the Genoese. You may enter the city through several gates and, as soon as you enter, you are met by flowers blossoming at the windows of the citys historical residences. As you continue, the streets get narrower and twist and turn. You feel reminded — in the best possible way — that you are indeed in a fishing village as the smell of that days catch cooking wafts past, a very inviting aroma if one is hungry. Should you come across a hospitable local, such as Hatice Hanım, you may dine together! Hatice Hanım, who was in front of her house cleaning some fish that her brother had caught, insisted that she would cook for us. If your path ever takes you to this area, be prepared for such invitations.

The “kargir” houses (made of brick) and the stone buildings have stood the test of time. There is a century-old mosque and a ruined Ottoman hamam (Turkish bath) within the castle. There is also a restored medrese (religious school) that dates back to the era of Suleiman the Magnificent. The recently renovated houses are part of the citys living history. Many foreigners have bought and restored old village houses here and you may meet many foreign couples in the town. One American we met in the market square is a good example. Originally from Florida, he said that he has been living in Sığacık for a long time and that he likes it here. He is one of those who chose to buy a house here and live a simple and tranquil life, passing each day peacefully buying “gözleme” (a type of flatbread) from the bazaar and so on.

One may suddenly come across another city gate while walking and admiring the local architecture. You may continue to explore outside the walls, climbing them to watch the fishermen and take in the view of the harbor from above. The scene of cats crowding around the fish, to a backdrop of the coves deep azure and bobbing boats, does not fail to enchant.

It is almost impossible to find a proper spot to swim in Sığacık itself because the beach isnt very clean due to its small size. However there is the Akkum (white sand) beach, further out of the town. There are three small islands, Eşek (donkey), Kanlı (bloody) and Küçük (small), located in the cove. A short distance inland from Akkum beach, the forest is the perfect spot for a picnic. Ekmeksiz beach, one of Turkeys coldest and cleanest coves, is also nearby. It owes its bracing nature to the fresh water that flows in from the surrounding hills. The coves pine-dotted slopes make a perfect spot for picnicking or camping.

Ancient city of Teos

The ruins of the ancient city of Teos are two kilometers away from Sığacık along an olive-lined route. Only a few columns still remain from Teos, which was one of the 12 cities of ancient Ionia. You may see the ruins of a theater, the port and the odeon (concert hall) if you walk through the olive groves. However, you may miss the historical sites because there are no signs to indicate their locations. Try to find a member of the local archaeological team to help you explore.

While going towards the theater you may come across Mariana Ergun, who has a home and garden within the ancient site. She settled in Sığacık after retiring in Germany. Ergun says that she is trying to build a tandir, a traditional oven formed from a clay-lined pit, so she can cook her own bread.

According to some historians, Teos was established as an Ionian colony in 1000 B.C. It was then colonized by the Persians, followed by the Lydians and then by the Persians once again. The founder is said to be Athames, son of Dionysus. It eventually gained its freedom like other Ionian settlements and became a significant place for architecture and trade. Although Teos was captured by the Spartans between 407 and 406 B.C., it regained its independence in 349 B.C. There are also some vestiges of the Hellenistic and Roman eras in Teos. The temple of Dionysus, the theater, the odeon, the city walls, the agora and the remnants of the port are among the most significant historical sites.

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