Alaçatı is a dreamland with its cobblestoned streets, bay-windowed stone houses and bougainvilleas, geraniums, jasmines blossoming in every corner. Kemalpaşa Street is where you can find the most ostentatious and magnificent examples of 150 years old stone buildings.
You just need to find the right time away from the crowds, which is either early in the morning or late afternoon to enjoy the architecture in tranquility.
You will definitely be amazed by the beautiful examples of masonry and craftsmanship on walls, doors, windows and oriels of these beautiful stone houses. Meanwhile you will always feel a light breeze while wondering in the streets, thanks to the steady wind of Alaçatı.
The best time to enjoy the village streets is just before the sunset, when all colors shine with full spectrum; red, purple and pink bougainvilleas, blue jasmines dressing the stone walls, orange and red geraniums flowing from the windows… And you will be filled with sweet dazzling smell of white jasmine.
HOW TO ARRIVE AT ALAÇATI
Alaçatı is 77 kilometers away from İzmir Airport, and driving time is around 50-60 minutes. We recommend renting a car from the airport, since the distances for seaside, surf, sightseeing and other activities are far from each other in Alaçatı. Also you can take Havaş buses from İzmir Airport, which arrives at Alaçatı in 90 minutes.
WHERE TO STAY IN ALAÇATI
Alaçatı is an inland village, 5 kilometeres away from the closest beach (Alaçatı Çark Beach). If you are looking for a traditional village atmosphere we’s recommend staying inside the village, and commute for activities and sightseeing. During summer time, if swimming is your priority, you can stay at the seaside hotels, and commute to Alaçatı for eating, drinking and shopping. We have plenty of hotel recommendations sorted by location, style, room number and budget in our Stay section.
HISTORY OF ALAÇATI
Alaçatı was formerly an Ionian town called ‘Agrilia’ in ancient times, meaning ‘old & wild olive tree’.
During the Ottoman period, Alaçatı turned into a village of the cavaliers and infantries. Alaçatı name ise believed to derive from the Alacaat (Red Horse), the name of the tribe whom settled here.
After Hacı Memiş Aga – a notable Ottoman landlord living in the village- invited Greek peasants to the region during 1930’s to work on olives and vineyards, planting mastic trees.
Alaçatı was previously a village by the sea. As the water withdrawn, most of the village became a swamp, and the swamps caused malaria. A channel from Alaçatı harbour to the village was decided to be made; and the villagers employed Greeks to construct the channel. Hacı Memiş Aga gave permission to Greeks to build their houses and cultivate their own lands.
Between 1850 and 1890, as Greeks settled, they started to built stone houses a few miles away from the shore and the original village. After a while a new village was established. As Greek population has grown and the Greeks became richer, their stone houses turned into spectacular mansions. During its Golden Age, Alaçatı’s Greek population reached 12.000 and it was famous with its vineyards, wine, olives and mastic trees.
However, during the Balkan War (1912) and the Exchange Period (1923), Orthodox Greeks living in Alaçatı and Turkish peasants from Balkans, Thessaloniki, Crete and Istanköy had to exchange locations; thus Turkish immigrants from Greece has settled in Alaçatı.
Unfortunately Turkish peasants removed the vineyards to plant tobacco, which did not manage to gain fertility, so they could not earn a living from agriculture and farming. Due to hard economical conditions, they started to leave the town and migrate to big cities and Alaçatı became a ghost town.
During the 1990’s, windsurfers discovered the area and Alaçatı started to revive; as stone buildings got renovated one by one, genuine and authentic restaurants and cafes flourished. After a while Alaçatı started to attract visitors from Istanbul and all over Turkey.
What happened afterwards is obvious; it has become Turkey’s rising holiday destination with new hotels, restaurant and shops after 2005.
As a kid that has spent most of her summers in old Ayvalık’s Greek stone houses, my feelingstowards Alaçatı was ‘love at first sight’ in 2001.
My husband – a wind surfer – was already an Alaçatı lover since 1985.
When we met in 2002, Alaçatı was a special place for us both.
We bought our land in 2003 and built our house in 2005 in Alaçatı. We started spending all our summers in Alaçatı in 2006, and tried to come during spring, autumn and winter weekends as much as possible. In May 2017 we decided to move from İstanbul to Alaçatı permanently, and since then we have been living here for 12 months.
We’ve witnessed the development of Alaçatı with pride & astonishment.
We admire the slow paced village life, cobblestoned streets with magnificent old stone houses, pink bougainvillea & blue jasmines rising from stone walls, orange and red geraniums flowing from the windows, sweet & dazzling smell of blooming white jasmines, continuous breeze that keeps the village cool and enables us to surf throughout the year, invigorating & refreshing sea with its pristine clear and chilly water, delicious Aegean food & wine. We love the genuine restaurants, hotels, ateliers, boutiques that are open all year around.
Unfortunately we are also kind of disappointed; as Alaçatı started to become very crowded & noisy during the summer months, over populated with cheap and vulgar entertainment places in the last few years.
We do our best to contribute to the efforts trying to turn Alaçatı back to its quiet, elegant, graceful, authentic and genuine atmosphere, and help develop & transform in a sustainable way.
Meanwhile we try to create a worldwide awareness on Alaçatı and contribute to its global reputation, with the hope that Alaçatı will become a preferred holiday destination for guests from all over the world, and will be enjoyed for 12 months of the year.
Zeynep & Alp Boneval