Some history first...
ALAÇATI, also known as ‘Agrillia’ in ancient period and as ‘Ionia’ in the history of West Anatolia, is situated at the heart of the area from the Gediz River to the Greater Menderes River.
Herodotus, the father of the history, describes Ionia in his first book as;
‘Ionians have built their cities in a region where the air and climate are the most beautiful in the whole world; for no other region is equally blessed with Ionia, neither above it nor below it, nor east nor west of it. For in other countries either the climate is over cold and damp, or else the heat and drought are sorely oppressive.’
Ionian cities lived their golden ages in 7th century B.C. as the colonies started to be established along the Mediterranean shores. In this period, ‘Ionian Union’ which composed of 12 cities guided the world especially in terms of science, philosophy, sculpture, and architecture.
These bright days also continued in Roman period; this had an influence on the spread of Christianity and the birth of Byzantine art.
In early Ottoman history resources, the name of Alaçatı is written as ‘Yaya-Müsellem” type of village, where the ‘ALACAAT TRIBE’ was settled. In other words, a ‘yaya’ (infantry) and ‘müsellem’ (cavalary) village which were the constituents of army established in 1361 as the number of population and soldiers increased due to new conquered regions… The town derives its name from ‘Alacaat Tribe’ that was settled here in the same years.
In the meantime, folks of Alacaat village south of which was marsh had to fight malaria. It was decided to open a canal to Alacaat Dock in order to drain the marshy area. Turkish people who owned large amount of land gave their farms in exchange of their labor to Rum (Greek of Turkish nationality) workers who came to work in the construction of the channel on the condition that they improve and cultivate the fields. Today’s Alaçatı, the ‘new village’ of that time, was established a few kilometers away from the sea for such reason. Most of the stone houses restored today in Alaçatı were built between 1850 – 1890.
In 1802, Sultan Mahmud II convened all landed proprietors in Istanbul and signed a charter of alliance with them. In this alliance, landed proprietor of Çeşme and its vicinity was ‘Memişoğulları’. Mahmut Ağa from Memişoğulları was also an Algerian just like Chief Admiral Barbaros Hayrettin Pasha and took shelter in Alaçatı with his ships as a result of a huge hurricane.
As we said; falling victim to the wind…
After a while, sun and grandchildren of Mahmud Ağa became the landed proprietor of the area. As of 1830s, Grandchildren Hacı Memiş Ağa invited the depleted Rum population of the Chios Island which was shaken by earthquakes to Alaçatı in order to employ them in various tasks. Thus, the population structure not only in Alaçatı, but also in the neighboring regions of Çeşme, Karaburun and URla began to alter. As the men of Turkish population had to leave for battles, Rum youngsters started to work in vineyards and olive orchards.
Would the destiny of Alaçatı change, if the Hacı Memiş Ağa was not caught in a northeaster in the middle of 1850s? The end of Yumlu steam, the chronic problem of Alaçato folks in the past as it was a large marshy area spreading malaria, is one of the most important surfing centers in the world today!
The one who drained the marshy area and removed the pain of malaria was Hacı Memiş Ağa.
It is also ensured that the foundation of economic wealth which were to bring along the international fame were laid, that the most of the Rum population came to Alaçatı in order to drain the marshy area due to Yumru and Buca steams were Chiso Island based and that products suitable to the agricultural conditions shaped by clean and windy weather of the area were grown.
New Alaçatı folks planted grapevines and established vineyards by the help of the climate and the soil in the region. They planted olive and gum trees all over the peninsula.
They even remembered to construct a small wine business in order to convert grape into vine!
They exported olive oil and palm olive. This fertility, which was created by effort, was the first wealth of Alaçatı. They created a beautiful town with narrow streets full of stone-walled and hipped-roofed houses with wooden bay windows which would witness enjoyable lives.
Looking at Ancient Alaçatı houses…
The same properties draw our attention in all Alaçatı houses built in the late 19th century and early 20th century. They were built in north-south direction in such a way that they would see little sunshine due to unbearable summer heat. These are the houses that invite the wind which characterizes their destiny…
Because it is with this wind that they dry their grapes on their roofs and air their olive oil and vine cubes in their basements...
In the late 19th century, Rums also started to refer to Alacaat as “Alasata”. Alaçatı then became (thanks to Rums who were knowledgeable about viniculture) a remarkable production and trade centre especially with its vineyards and vine. The population, which was mostly comprised of Rums reached up to 12 thousand. Municipal organization was established in Alaçatı in 1873.
Alaçatı’s faith began to change with the Balkan War in 1912.
Panic and immigration started among Rums upon arrival of Turks fleeing from Balkans. However, Rum population returned with occupation of İzmir in 1919.
This time, Balkan immigrants coming to Alaçatı felt disturbed and started to immigrate towards inner regions of Anatolia. At the end of this period and upon ending of the War of Independence, “Exchange Agreement” was signed between Turkey and Greece in Lausanne on January 30, 1923.
With this application performed for the first and last time in the world, around 2 million people were displaced. In accordance with this agreement, apart from the Orthodox Rums in İstanbul,İmroz (Gökçeada) and ve Tenedos’daki(Bozcaada) and Muslims in Western Thrace; Muslims settled in Greece were sent to Turkey while Orthodox Rums settled in Turkey were sent to Greece. In this way, the exchanged people from Salonika (Karaferyeliler), Kavala (Kınalı and Karacaovalılar), Crete and Istankoy were added to the Albanian and Bosnian immigrants coming from Kosovo and Bosnia to Alaçatı in Balkan War years.
Population of Alaçatı changed completely only in 10 years.
While it experienced a bright era in times of Rums through viniculture and viticulture, rough times started for Alaçatı following the population exchange.
Vineyards in Alaçatı were removed; terraces were ruined and immigrants from Salonika planted tobacco in their place as Muslim Turks coming from Balkans were not knowledgeable about viticulture and viniculture.
Immigrants from Kosovo and Bosnia started husbandry, which was known by them.
However, the climate was appropriate neither for tobacco nor for husbandry. Tobacco, which was cultivated, broken and lined with great effort did not provide income; it only satisfied hunger. This poverty caused the architectural texture of Alaçatı to be preserved as there was no money to renew the town while the whole region was destroyed and altered rapidly.
In 1990s, Alaçatı’s faith changed once again. The dynamism which arose as wind surfing fans started using the dock brought about discovery of this cute town where old and cool stone houses smelling of gum and lavender were preserved.
Restoration of the stone houses which were kept intact and the youngest of which is almost 100 years old one by one carried Alaçatı to a very different position than the other holiday resorts not to mention the colorful shops and stylish cafes in narrow streets, special venues and enjoyable hotels which embrace the principle “small is beautiful”.
As Alaçatı has been declared “urban protected area”, construction of multi-storey buildings inconvenient for the traditional architecture is prevented today. This is an important gain for Alaçatı and its lovers.
Alaçatı is one of the most important windsurfing centers in the world today and many international surfing events are organized in Alaçatı.. Alaçatı shores have the purest water and the finest beaches of Mediterranean. In Alaçatı, it is forbidden to play loud music all night long and to open bars and discotheques..
There is no plastic chair in the cafes in Alaçatı!
Shady roads are covered with paving stone..
The first thing that attract attention in Alaçatı is the architectural texture.. The houses made from face stone which is also called as ‘Alaçatı stone’ and looks like pumice stone are warm in winter and cool in summer..
The reason is that the stones of Alaçatı act as a filter by forming limestone after reacting with the carbon dioxide in the air..
Bozulmadan korunmuş ve en genci neredeyse 100 yaşında olan taş evlerin birer birer onarılması, bugün Alaçatı’yı diğer tatil beldelerinden çok farklı konuma getirmiştir.’Küçük güzeldir’ ilkesini benimseyen keyifli oteller, özel mekanlar,daracık sokaklarda renkli renkli dükkanlar ve şık kahveler cabası…
Alaçatı ‘kentsel sit’ ilan edildiği için, bugün geleneksel mimariye uygun olmayan çok katı yeni bina yapılmasının önüne de geçilmiştir. Bu da Alaçatı ve sevenleri için önemli kazanımdır.
Alaçatı,artık dünyanın en önemli rüzgar sörfü merkezlerinden biri ve bir çok uluslar arası sörf yarışması da Alaçatı da yapılmakta.. Alaçatı sahilleri ise Akdeniz in en temiz denizlerine, en güzel plajlarına sahip.Alaçatı da sabahlara kadar yüksek sesli müzik yayını yapılmasına,bar ve diskotek açılmasına izin yok.
Alaçatı daki kahvelerde plastik sandalye de yok!
Gölgeli sokaklar parke taşlarıyla kaplı..
Alaçatı da dikkatinizi çeken ilk şey mimari doku..’Alaçatı taşı’ adı verilen ve pomza taşı görünümlü kesme taşlardan yapılan evler,kışın sıcak,yazın serin..
Çünkü adı taş ama havanın karbondioksiti ile birleşince kalker oluşturup filtre görevi yapıyor Alaçatı’nın taşları…