Alaçatı

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Alaçatı
Town
A street in Alaçatı
A street in Alaçatı
Location of Alaçatı within Turkey.
Location of Alaçatı within Turkey.
Country  Turkey
Region Aegean
Province İzmir
Elevation 16 m (52 ft)
Time zone EET (UTC+2)
 • Summer (DST) EEST (UTC+3)
Postal code 35xxx
Area code(s) (+90) 232
Licence plate 35
Website www.alacati.bel.tr

Alacati(Alaçati,Agrilia), a unique Mediterranean town on the Western coast of Turkey, which has been famous for its architecture, vineyards and windmills for over 150 years has now made its name in the world of windsurfing and kitesurfing, with its crystal clear water, consistent and steady wind (for an average of 300 days a year) and well acclaimed Turkish hospitality. Alacati is one of the most authentic towns in Turkey with stone houses, narrow streets, boutique hotels and restaurants with tables on the streets. Alacati has a great nightlife, where the nightclubs by the seaside are open until morning. The area is also home to the Alacati yacht marina and the famous Port Alacati development, created by the French architect Francois Spoerry and his son, Yves Spoerry.[1]

Etymology[edit]

There are numerous stories about the formation of the name of Alaçatı. Some resources claim that the old town was called 'Agrilia', and some resources claim, however, the name Alaca At (Red Horse in Turkish) used for the whole area. Their claim is based on a story, that the ruler of Alaçatı had a red horse to ride. When riding the horse, bystanders would refer to him as "Alacaatlı (the man with the red horse)", in time the name was somehow changed to Alaçatı. Some resources claim that the name "Ala çatı" (Iridescent Roof) derives from strong winds causing laundries to fly away and land on neighbour houses.

During the exchange of populations between Greece and Turkey, Muslim refugees from Greece were settled here, and ever since then the name Alaçatı has been adopted both for the town and the harbour area. The harbour area was the export port of İzmir until World War II. After the war, the harbour's use declined, and the bay, in which the harbour was, is now popular among windsurfers. The town also hosts a lap of the world tournament of windsurfing, famously called PWA.

History[edit]

Alaçatı became an Ottoman town in the 14th century, according to some; in the 15th century, according to others. Regardless of the date, Alaçatı was originally settled by Greeks in the 17th century.[2] The Muslim population was 132 out of a population of 13,845 in 1895. After the defeat of the Ottomans in the Balkan Wars, Ottoman Muslim refugees fled to the western coast of Anatolia. The Greek population of Alaçatı was forced to leave in 1914 and the village was emptied. Most of the Greek returned in 1919 during Greek administration of Smyrna (1919-1922) when the Hellenic Army occupied the region of Izmir. The majority fled hastily with the retreating Greek Army following Greece's defeat in the Greco-Turkish War, whilst others fled from the shores of Smyrna.[3][4] The forced emigration of the Greek population, already at an advanced stage, was transformed into a population exchange backed by international legal guarantees.[5]

Under the Treaty of Lausanne in 1923 and according to the implementation of the compulsory exchange of populations, Muslims who lived in Crete, Thrace, Macedonia and Dodecanese settled in Alatsata city in the houses abandoned by the Greeks. Most of these houses still remain in Alaçatı as an attraction for people to see and absorb the feeling of life before the compulsory exchange of populations.

Architecture[edit]

Alaçatı has stone houses with coloured windows and narrow streets with pavements. The centre of Alaçatı has Ottoman houses which are over 100 years old. The houses can be differentiated whether they were Greek houses by looking if they have an additional enclosed balcony area, alcove window or 'cumba' in Turkish. Typically, enclosed cumba balconies are painted by lilac or pale blue colours. The town was declared as a historical site in 2005, the buildings are well protected. The newly built houses refer to the past architectural principles of the Ottoman houses of the agora of Alaçatı.[6]

Culture[edit]

The experiences of novelist Mehmet Culum during his travels in the region inspired him to write Alaçatili, his second novel. The very centre of Alaçatı is famous for viticulture and winemaking as wine factories spread throughout the region of Çeşme but recently the town has picked fame with its developing tourism, boutique hotels and especially with windsurfing.

Festivals[edit]

The Alaçatı Herb Festival takes place every year in April and aims to promote nature-friendly methods in gastronomy and natural nutrition through the introduction of the area’s many herb varieties. Traditional ingredients and cooking techniques are celebrated during a time when the region-specific herbs bloom. In 2017, Alaçatı welcome a new festival called ‘Kaybolan Lezzetler Festivali,’ also known as the ‘Festival of the Disappearing Tastes’ sought to preserve traditional recipes that are facing extinction. Various recipes from different regions are researched and chosen and then promulgated through workshops, events and contests with the final aim of documenting twisted versions of traditional recipes of Alaçatı on a book.[7]

Mastic[edit]

Mastic is a natural resin that runs down when a mastic tree (Pistacia lentiscus) is cut. Originally mastic is sun-dried into pieces of brittle, resulting in producing translucent resin. When chewed, the resin softens and becomes a bright natural white and opaque gummy substance. The flavour is bitter at first, but after some chewing, it releases a refreshing, Mediterranean-maple-syrup-like flavour, however it has a stickier texture than maple syrup.


TEMA, The Turkish Foundation for Combating Soil Erosion for Reforestation and the Protection of Natural Habitats, has been leading a project to protect the native mastic trees and to plant new ones in Çeşme peninsula to revive viable commercial production. As part of this project, which is expected to last through 2016, over 3,000 mastic tree saplings were planted between 2008 and October 2011 to over 368 acres (149 hectares) of dedicated farm areas provided by the Izmir Institute of Technology.[8] From a 15-50-year-old mastic tree, 300-350 grams of mastic can be collected a year. Price standardisation of mastic meets 100-120 Euro per kilo.[9]


Traditionally, mastic pudding and mastic ice cream would be consumed after dining. Specialities made with mastic are offered in the whole town of Alaçatı, as well as Çeşme. Some popular mastic delicacies of the town follow as mastic Turkish coffee or Turkish coffee served with mastic water, mastic pudding, mastic ice cream, mastic jam, mastic biscuit balls, as well as the savoury meze of mastic artichoke. A local mastic desserts shop Imren has been chosen as the representative of mastic culture in town. Imren has multiplied to four shops due to high demand as the locals prefer to eat at home and have ice cream after dinner. The shop also offers a complimentary book about the history and production of mastic.[10]

Windsurf[edit]

Alaçatı is nominated by numerous windsurfing magazines as the best spot for beginners to learn windsurfing due to having a shallow bay that makes beginners to feel safe. Alaçatı bay which is known as one of the world's leading windsurfing bays with continuous and steady wind throughout the year. Alaçatı windsurf schools meet the international standards by offering material for canoeing, kitesurfing, sup and windsurfing.[11] Alaçatı recently has made a name for hosting international windsurfing championships and tournaments and world's most known windsurfing tournament PWA. PWA racers nicknamed Alaçatı as 'the Slalom Capital of the world'.

Media Coverage[edit]

In 2004, a documentary on the town has been aired on Japanese TV, hosted by Nana Eikura. Since then, the town has attracted heaps of Asian tourists.[12] In 2010, Alaçatı has been ranked 8th by the New York Times on top places to visit in 2010.[13]

Toponyms[edit]

Several cities have been named after Alatsata, including Nea Alatsata, Crete; Nea Erythraia, Athens, Greece. A great number of Alatsatean refugees were settled in Greece, in Attica, Euboea, Crete, Chios, Lesvos, Samos, Thessaloniki and in Agrinion. Regions with settlements, bearing the name New Alatsata ("Νέα Αλάτσατα" in Greek) exist in the Municipality of Byron, in Athens, in Chalkis and in Heraklion of Crete. Besides Greece, Alatsateans migrated in almost all the continents but mostly in the U.S. of America, where in Somerville, in Boston the Small Alatsata was founded and in Australia.

Notable natives[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Constantinos J. Garmatis; Marianna N. Mastrostamati (2007). After Alatsata. The Alatsateans worldwide. Association of the Alatsateans. ISBN 978-960-87159-1-2. 
  • Fanis N. Kleanthis (2003). Alatsata my lost homeland. Association of the Alatsateans. 
  • Constantinos A. Vlamos (1946). Alatsata of the Ionic or Erythrean Peninsula (1st ed.). Thessaloniki: Mich. Triantafyllou. 

Coordinates: 38°16′53″N 26°22′27″E / 38.2813889°N 26.3741667°E / 38.2813889; 26.3741667