There are places that evoke myths and legends only by saying its name... and the Aegean region is certainly one of them. This area of the country has witnessed centuries of settlements that are today some of the world's most impressive archaeological sites. Among them, the beautiful Aegean coast, fishing villages and green landscapes are also there.
Among the historical sites of the region we can talk, for example, about Assos, one of the most important centers of learning in ancient times which saw, among others, Aristotle and Plato. Also Pergamon or the ancient city of Ephesus, now recognized as one of the most impressive open air museums, having for example the impressive Library of Celsus facade. Opposite the ruins of Ephesus, on top of a hill, is also a small enclave known in Christianity by, they say, being the place where the Virgin Mary lived after the death of Jesus Christ.
Near Ephesus, in addition, there is one of two major cities in the region: Selçuc, with the Basilica of St. John the Apostle of the sixth century, built where the tomb of this Jesus' disciple was supposed to be. Izmir is the second city, full of nightlife, bars and restaurants and the harbor where many cruise ships arrive.
Among all these historical and interesting places, a small village perched on hills of olive and fruit trees attempts to pass unnoticed to the eyes of the world, trying to keep its local charm. However, the secret of Sirince has been now discovered.
The small village of Sirince, about six hundred inhabitants, dates from the fifteenth century, when the city of Ephesus was abandoned. However, the buildings that we see today in the village, which make it be known as the Turkish Toscana, are from the nineteenth century.
At those first times, the town was called Kirkince, which many people mistook Çirkince. This term would come to mean something like ugly, and it seems that the locals fed the myth to not be discovered by freigners. They say it was a mayor of Izmir who changed its name to Sirince, which means beautiful.
Sirince is an unexpected place nestled among vineyards and olive and peach trees. Its streets are narrow, some labyrinthine and they are full of street markets, wine shops, bohemian restaurants, vines and sun awnings that protect the traveler from the sun. Walking around the village is one of those experiences that offer peace and tranquility. One can walk through Sirinçe to be suddenly involved in the aroma of a typical Turkish dish that a woman prepares in an oven or to find a fruit wine tasting overlooking the vineyards. For the latter, the Artemis restaurant is probably the most famous place, with multiple options for tasting different wines.
Among its cultural attractions, Sirince features the beautiful Church of St. John the Baptist, Orthodox, reformed and with charming terraces to have a coffee (or wine) around, and also a mosque.
The fact that Sirince is full of olive trees and vineyards is something clear at this point, but there is another element that also forms part of the decor and the people themselves: the Evil Eye or Nazar Boncuk. This kind of blue crystal amulet shaped eye is literally spread all over the place. It can be seen in pendants and bracelets sold in shops and stalls but also hanging from the trees, facades and windows of houses and even stuck to the ground at the entrance to some places or as a decoration in fountains and doors.
This amulet, known in Turkey as boncuk nazar, is widespread in the country and elsewhere in the Mediterranean coast and its tradition dates back centuries ago. They say that its origin dates back to the invasions of northern peoples, who apparently had blue eyes, so the villagers of Anatolia began using them to protect themselves. Currently the Evil Eye is used to ward off the evil eye and bad luck both in oneself, bracelets and necklaces, as in homes, offices or restaurants.
But as a picture is worth a thousand words, enjoy these snapshots of Sirince ... and go there as soon as possible!