THE ADDRESS OF TRANQUILITY
VILLAGES OF THE NORTH AEGEAN

Article & Photography for OnAir Magazine of Onur Airlines, March 2019.

With the arrival of spring, following the olive trees, I am on the serpentine roads that meet the sea. I know that these roads lead to hillsides of Ida Mountains with fresh air and lush villages by the sea. It is time to leave the heart of your heart in Çanakkale’s villages in the North Aegean region.

 

It is time for nature to wake up from hibernation with blooming branches and heartwarming sun. I’m on the road to listen to bird sounds more closely, to touch the olive trees that have settled in the North Aegean region and to reach the Mount Ida, where I have been fascinated by its legends since I was a child. I visit Aynalı Bazaar placed in the center of Çanakkale, where I walk around and give a coffee break in the relaxing courtyard of Yalı Han. Walking by the seaside, where the statue of Trojan Horse is greeting the blue waters, I hear the 'Trojan Sonata' of Fazıl Say from a distance. At that moment, I am ready to welcome the spring in the villages of Çanakkale.

 

In Between Green and Blue: Yeşilyurt Village

 

My first stop is Yeşilyurt village. I simply followed the road in the west Küçükkuyu-Ancient City of Gargaron, where Zeus refers to as “It is between the Aegean blue and Ida green” in Iliad and Odyssey by Homer. Just like in the story; it is a village between the Aegean Sea, which is seen from the top of the hill, and among lush pine and olive trees on the hillside of Mount Ida. Its architecture has always been preserved since the period when the Greeks and Turks lived together, and the buildings are built with stones from the region. That’s why I think how lucky those who live here while wandering in the streets. After taking a break in the tea cafe on the village square, I visit the mosque, which has an elegant architecture with its green details and stop by the vendors to buy local products like olives, thyme, honey and bread. Apart from its friendly shopkeepers and plenty of oxygen, the use of natural materials in the products makes this place even more special. I once again understand the value of nature, which is hard to find in urban life, while tasting regional olive oil dishes, the famous Çetmi dessert in the cafes and lavender and thyme flavored ice cream of Yazgara Mola.

 

Sound of the Silence: Adatepe 

 

When I first came to Adatepe years ago, I was surprised by the silence that dominated the streets. The only thing I heard was the songs of birds and roosters, a few neighborly conversations echoing in the street and sounds from the ceramic workshop. I felt like I was on the set of a historical movie in this small world, where nearly 500 people lived, as I was looking at the stone houses with colorful wooden blinds. Adatepe keeps the same simplicity since it is a protected area hosting ruins of the Roman period. During the summer, activities organized in the restored historical primary school Taş Mektep (Stone School), the streets revive, and the voices increase for a time. Towards the end of the spring, local food and traditional jewellery shops are set on the streets. The time slows down while witnessing the journey of olives in the Adatepe Olive Oil Museum on the way or tasting local products in Hüseyin Meral’s shop and watching that fairy-tale street stretching in front of me. The most beautiful gift that Adatepe has to offer at the end of the day is the warm yellow sunset I meet in the garden overlooking the village in Refika Cafe and the Altar of Zeus which take me to mythological stories.

 

Peace on the Hill: Altınoluk 

 

Before I return to Çanakkale, I visit the village of Altınoluk and finish my trip in the cafe under the giant plane tree on the center of the village. The ice-cold spring water coming from the mountain arrives in a copper jug. I order the famous black mulberry juice and “kesme börek” and observe my surroundings. In this small village, most of the people live happily and earn their living on olive industry. The square is getting crowded with people coming from the surrounding holiday resorts towards the evening. A lady with a scarf is preparing “gözleme” and her sons are serving mulberry juice and sour grape juice to customers. Climbing on the hill to the right side of the square there is the Abdullah Efendi Mansion with 150 years of history and elegance. Today it serves as the Antandros Antique City Association building. Many other historical buildings accompany the mansion like an old friend… It is impossible to finish the journey without buying jam, sage and tarhana from the counters set in front of the fountain. I look at the view from the top of the village once more while my hands are full of local products. Stretching beyond the trees, the Aegean Sea calms my soul like the spirit of this village.

© 2023 by Deniz Yılmaz Akman

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