A winter getaway to Çeşme, a pleasant Aegean coastal town located 90 km west of Izmir, will allow you to enjoy a relaxed and quiet atmosphere you would never witness in summer.
In the centre, just a stone’s throw from the shore, you will find the citadel and its six towers. It was built in 1508, under the rule of Sultan Bayezid II. Back then, the sea was closer to the building than it is today.
From 1965 to 1984, it was used as a military museum that sheltered a collection of weaponry from Topkapı Palace in Istanbul. Today, the beautiful arched stone rooms harbour a collection of findings from the ancient site of Ildırı, the town of Alaçatı and Çeşme itself.
From the top of the citadel, there is a splendid view over the marina, where many sailing boats moor for the winter.
In front of the building stands a beautiful statue of Admiral Hasan Pasha with a lion. Nicknamed “Cezayırlı” (the Algerian) because he spent time in Algiers during his career in the Navy, he was also attributed the title of “Gazi” (victorious) due to his successful performance during the naval Battle of Chesma between Ottoman and Russian fleets in 1770.
Not far from the citadel, there is an old caravansary from 1529, which was turned into a hotel.
You will also see a number of pretty traditional houses in the centre, some of which are still lived in, while others have been turned into shops.
On the main shopping street of Çeşme, you will find the old Greek Orthodox church of Ayios Haralambos. It was built in 1832 and was left derelict for many years. It is now used as a municipal cultural building.
The ice cream lovers among you must take a break at the bakery Rumeli, located on the same street. This family run parlour opened its doors in 1945 and is one of the best ice cream manufacturers of the country. The grandfather was the first person to offer mastic ice cream (sakız dondurması) in Turkey.
Finally, the fish auction takes place every morning at 11h15 during fishing season at the north end of the shore, just after the long row of restaurants overlooking the sea. Spending a few moments there can be quite pleasant and interesting as you witness scenes from the world of traditional fishing.