Alacati

Alacati

Alacati

Alacati is an increasingly popular small township located 7 kilometers from Cesme's center that is well known for its beauty, history, and its narrow and original flower lined cobblestone streets. From the modern Izmir-Cesme highway, Alacati does not look like much but once you submerse yourself in its streets, Alacati will win you over with its charm and soon you will be thinking that you've entered another world.

There are actually two parts to Alacati; the first is the town visible from the highway which is about one kilometer to the sea and the second part is the coast of Alacati which is also called "Windsurf Paradise". Both parts have important characteristics that are unique. The region has seen an explosion of high end restaurants and boutique hotels in recent years.

 

The history of the town dates back to the 1850's. The Ottoman Grand Vizier of the time gave the order that the swamps toward the south were to be dried because of the mess and disease they were causing. Greek workers from nearby islands took up the call and proceeded to build drainage canals which dried up the swamps and resulted in the construction of a small port. The Greek workers were given the opportunity to build a town nearby this port and Agrilia, today's Alacati was hence born. Turkish landowners also granted the workers large tracts of land to earn their living. The town you see in Alacati was therefore built mainly in the years 1850-1890. The Greek workers soon began planting vines in the land they were given and Alacati began cranking out high quality wines during this era. The population of Alacati at this time was about 45,000 of which 40,000 were Greeks.

During the Balkan War of 1912, many Muslims immigrated to the area and many Greeks left. The Greeks returned in 1919 when Greece temporarily invaded Turkey but they left again after 1922 in a mutual population exchange when Turkey was liberated. After 1922, many Muslims immigrated to the area from the former Yugoslavia and other Balkan countries. Life in Alacati began to get hard as these new immigrants removed the vines, planted tobacco (as they were used to growing in the Balkans) and they tried their hand at livestock farming. Neither of these worked as well as the Greek vineries and the area soon became relatively poor.

After the 1980's, Alacati slowly began its now rapid revival. Because the climate is relatively warm and dry, the abandoned Greek houses had preserved their originality and had not become too run down. Alacati's winter population had decreased to below 10,000 but the summer population began its increase, quickly reaching five to six times the winter population. In 2001, the first stone boutique hotel opened it doors and coupled with the international fame of Windsurf Paradise and the surf tourism, Alacati began a furious restoration period which saw the opening of more than 300 boutique hotels!

The township is adamant about keeping quality high and to its credit only gave permits to restore buildings as long as the original plans were employed. They allowed the opening of restaurants and cafes but carefully oversaw their styles and did not even allow plastic chairs or tables. Today when you visit Alacati, you will feel like you've gone back in time. You will see cute Greek houses on narrow cobblestone streets but you will not here a cacophony of sounds and cars you normally hear in other Turkish Aegean and Mediterranean towns. The light breeze will sway the bougainvillea and other flowers on the walls, and you will only ponder which beautiful restaurant you will visit for your next delicious meal.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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