With its rich history, geography and nature, the Aegean Sea region, has been the source of inspiration for civilizations since ancient times. Science and philosophy have always flourished in these lands. Since the Neolithic era, Urla has taken a very special place in ancient geography.
Comprised of the rich traditions of the past, the warm human relations interlaced with the peninsula’s multicolored culture, Urla continues to carry along an integral part of that ancient abundance its geography offers.
Urla’s proximity to Izmir, the area’s beaches and forests, historical ruins, the town’s unique local life and configuration in a wide settlement geography topped with its illustrious vineyards and rich olive orchards, offers its visitors a peaceful, relaxing, and memorable visit. The most unforgettable part of Urla is its healthy and delicious local cuisine. You can taste distinctive local flavors within a short evening walk.
For those who want to experience nature engulfed in deep blues and lush greens, feel the magic of history and experience the exceptional local cuisine, the destination is Urla…
BRIEF HISTORY OF URLA
The history of Urla dates back to the ancient city of Klazomenai in 2000BC. The ancient city was inhabited by the Ions, who crossed into Anatolia from Greece and established new cities by settling in the region extending from the Izmir Bay to the Mandalya Gulf. This entire region is called Ionia.
The Limantepe Mound in the Iskele District is one of the oldest known ports of the Aegean Sea. The most striking historical evidence here is the Klazomenai Olive Oil workshop, the first and oldest olive oil production facility in Anatolia. It has been open to visitors since 2005.
During the Hellenistic-Roman period, the mainland was evacuated and the settlement on Quarantine Island gained importance. From the various archaeological artifacts excavated at the settlement, it is estimated that it existed until the 5th century.
With the arrival of the Turks into the area in the 1080's Izmir was no longer a Byzantine, but a Turkish city. İzmir and Urla joined the Aydınoğulları Principality in 1330, and a new settlement was established 4 kilometers inland from the coast. In records from the end of the 14th century, Urla was described as a busy market place, called Karye Pazarı. Ottoman rule began in 1390, where Urla rapidly developed as trade point. It is noted that there were about 200 shops in the district marking the development during this period.
The port facility unearthed in the archaeological excavations in Limantepe, located in the Urla Pier area, is one of the earliest examples researched so far in the world. The most important feature of these archaeological excavations is that they are carried out under the sea besides the land.
In the light of the finds uncovered, Limantepe was a strong port that has been at the center of overseas trade relations since the earliest cultural strata. During the Early Bronze Age II period, the city spread over a wider area and a new defense wall was built, supported by monumental and horseshoe-shaped bastions. When evaluated in terms of its dimensions and architectural remains, Limantepe represents one of the most magnificent settlements of the Aegean Region.
The ancient city of Klazomenai, one of the 12 Ionian cities in the area, spreads from Limantepe to the skirts of Ayyıldız and Cankurtaran hills in the west. Part of the city is on Quarantine Island. The olive oil workshop, which was excavated in Klazomenai, proves that the technology used today was developed in this region for the first time in the world 2600 years ago. The ruins carried by the ancient city of Klazomenai, albeit in a scattered way, are quite rich and worth seeing.
Quarantine Island (Karantina Adası)
While following the traces of the past, you may want to turn your direction to the misterious Quarantine Island. During the Ottoman period, the island was used to prevent infectious diseases. The French had started the first Ottoman quarantine zone in 1865. The facility was established for commercial and passenger ships and especially for the pilgrims coming for the northern pilgrimage route, and it remained active until 1950. The education center was built 150 years ago and the first deadly diseases intervention was made here. It later became the head of the most advanced health centers of its time period. The facility was used as a Sea and Sun Treatment Institute after 1950 and was transformed into a hospital for bone and joint diseases Hospital in 1960. In 1986 it gained the status of a State Hospital. Today, International medical rescue trainings are held by the Turkish Ministry of Health at the facilities on the island.
Historical Turkish Baths and Mosques
There are a number of sites worth visiting today, however a few are still ruins that need to be rescued. Hersekzade Ahmet Pasha Bath, built in the 15th century, is located in the urban area of town and is registered as an architectural structure that is historically-protected. Kamanlı Bath is another building built at around the same time, but is in ruins today, waiting to be restored.
The four walls and the dome of Rüstem Pasha Bath remain in the Rüstem Pasha Complex today, also awaiting rescue. The Rüstem Paşa Mosque stands as the only wholesome remain of the complex. It was damaged in a great earthquake during the 19th century, and it was later partially repaired using Byzantine Stones, a site worth a visit.
URLA FESTIVAL TOURISM
Urla has become quite popular with its many gastronomical festivals in recent years. The International Urla Artichoke Festival, the Barbaros Scarecrow Festival, the Traditional Herb Festival, the Bademler International Village Theatres Festival, the Nohutalan Cantaloupe Festival, the Sardine Festival, the Literature Festival and the traditional 2600-year-old Grape Harvest Festival may be one of the many reasons to visit and experience Urla.
Urla International Artichoke Festival
The International Urla Artichoke Festival is held every year, at the last week of April, to honor and promote the infamous Urla mastic artichoke. The festival lasts three days and hosts thousands of out-of-town and international visitors. The festival is enlivened by tasting events, kitchen workshops, cooking talks, exhibitions and music concerts. The event is a part of the World Gourmet Cities Network and has become a cooking and tasting playground for world famous chefs.
The mastic artichoke is a perennial plant with purple flowers and is unique to the Urla Peninsula. The beauty of this delicious plant lies in the fact that it is entirely edible – you would be surprised how delicious its stems can be. The artichoke has been commercially produced in Urla since 1945 and shown a great increase in planted agricultural land in the last years. Thanks to this festival, artichoke production in the town reached 35 million pieces per year and the producers' income has increased tremendously. In 2018, the Urla mastic artichoke was awarded a regional geographical distinction and is a special gastronomic product that is now exported to many corners of the world.
Urla Grape Harvest Festival
This traditional holiday has been carried out under the name of “Grape Festivals” for more than 20 years in cooperation with the Municipality of Urla and the Chamber of Agriculture. The festivities are held every year in August, in the historical Malgaca Bazaar.
During the festival, the producers bring out their hard-earned harvest and present their grapes to the festival visitors, accompanied by folk music and drums. The festival starts with folk dances on the giant stage set up in the festival area and continues with the selection of the best grape producer. Ranked producers are awarded.
Barbaros Scarecrow (Öyük) Festival
Barbaros Öyük Festival was fırst initiated in 2016 with the support of the Izmir Metropolitan Municipality, the Urla Municipality and the Western Urla Villages Association, and bacame one of the favorite events held in Urla.
The three-day festival attracts attention every year. The hand-made scarecrows give the village a misterious, beautiful view. The villagers have called these scarecrows ‘öyük’ for many generations, therefore, the name of the festival became Öyük Festival. The most beautiful scarecrow, the most beautiful courtyard, and best cooking competitions are held throughout the festival.
There are many meanings of the olive tree. It is a symbol of friendship and reconciliation, cleansing and healing, light, victory and richness - a sign of peace. It is a plant which should be treated with reverence as it holds many spiritual gifts.
It’s been blessed by all religions and you would encounter it along the fig tree bearing the same sacred meaning in Urla. Did you know that every olive orchard has a fig tree?
Urla is the place, where the first known olive oil workshop was built. Olives grown in Urla are perhaps the fattiest ones grown in the country. In addition, there is a species called 'date' ('hurma' in Turkish) that matures on its branch and becomes edible right off the tree. This phenomenon can only be observed in a narrow region starting from Urla and extending to Karaburun and can occur only under special atmospheric conditions in the middle of the olive harvest.
Grape vines, Fig and Olive trees, spread out all over Urla, have existed in this geography since prehistoric times and have been known as the ‘fruits that established civilizations’ in the world.
The Urla mastic artichoke harvest producers are able to meets almost all the artichoke needs of our country today. This miraculous plant diversifies its wide local cuisine culture. Therefore, it is very likely you encounter artichokes in any given meal in Urla.
To taste the abundance and colorful flavors of the local produce from the beautiful citrus gardens and the pomegranate trees, planted in almost every olive orchard, you should come and visit Urla.
Urla Wine Route
Imagine a laid back, peaceful town by the crystal clear waters of the Aegean. Situated between Izmir and the famous resort town of Çeşme; URLA, is a special place where you can stroll along the old streets of multi cultural coexistence, roam freely in the vineyards and olive groves for exceptional products.
Famous for its wine, this land has been named unique and indispensable for the likes of Ionians, the Persians, the Romans and finally the Turks.
It has touched the lives of many famous and important characters such as the Greek philosopher Anaxagoras, the Roman ruler Dominiatus, Evliya Çelebi, the Noble Laureate Seferis and the famous Turkish writer, Necati Cumalı.
When the subject is viticulture for wine production, Urla is one of the premier spots in Turkey. In the fertile soils of the region, besides the internationally known grapes Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Chardonnay, SanGiovese, Nero D’Avola grapes; Anatolian varieties such as Boğazkere, Sultana and the local Bornova Muscat are popularly grown.
All these vineyards, some are 6000 years old, are the proof of historical abundance and productivity.
Among the modern day heirs, Urlice Vineyards was the first to prove its worthy of this rich heritage with its national success, where Urla Wines carried its fame internationally, with its state-of-the-art production facilities and its efforts in renovating antique local grape varieties such as Gaydura and Urla Karası. Likewise, USCA Winery with its Foça Karası and MMG Winery with its Bornova Muscat produced their signature red and white, respectively, from these antique and local grape varieties. Another claim to fame from this region is Mozaik Winery, collecting international medals with the new hybrid grape varieties of the modern viticultural world.
With new wineries, Limantepe, Urla Bağevi and Perdix, under construction, Urla is soon to be the number one Boutique Wine Destination in Turkey. Urla Wine Route and its associates are welcoming you to discover the region, its natural beauty and internationally acclaimed delicacies
Urla Olive Route
The olives in Urla have a story to tell ...
Klazomenai: Urla, as we know it today; is one of the 12 cities of the Ionian Civilization. Home of Anaxagoras, teacher of one of the most prominent figures in the history of thought, the founder of Ethics - Socrates. Also home of the Nobel-prised poet Giorgos Seferis. It is where Neyzen Tevfik has decided to learn to 'breathe into' the ney, where Necati Cumalı has created his best pieces of literature, where Evliya Çelebi has praised the 'date olive' (Hurma - olea europea), where the ancients and poets have found inspiration... Urla is where monumental olive trees, bear witness to history and an unfathomable knowledge in olive cultivation. There is a lot to say about Urla when it comes to olives and olive oil.
Olive Oil has been produced in Urla Since 600BC!
In Limantepe excavations, small handy-mortars used to crush olives from 3000-2000 BC grinding stones ceramic pots used to separate olive oil from the 'black water' and olive oil stores from later periods have been found as the precursors of the adventure of olive in Urla. The olive oil workshop in Klazomenai is a priceless asset dating back to 6th century BC. Its impact still lingers as this was the ‘Silicon Valley’ for many technological advancements of the time where many ‘firsts’ took place.
How did humans actually learned to eat a fruit that was so bitter on its branch? According to one view, the answer to this question is hidden only in the Erkence Tree, the indigenous olive variety of the Urla Peninsula, and its fruit, the ‘date’ olive.
An atmospheric effect carried by the wind blowing from the sea by a fungi-like particles, the olives on the Erkence Olive Tree ripen on their branches and they become fruity and edible with the help of the suitable environmental conditions of the region. The color of the olive fruit changes from black to golden brown becomes wrinkled and resembles a dark date fruit. This mysterious transformation, observed only in this region of the world, strengthens the argument that human beings have discovered that this bitter fruit is edible and consequently over time, resulted in processing its oil.
Your eyes undoubtedly get caught in the Anıt Erkence Olive Trees while wandering around on the Olive Route in Urla, you cannot help but noticing that they hide the history of our region in its artful curves.
2600 years ago, olive oil and wine were transported in ceramic amphorae with Cycladic boats from Urla Limantepe port to all Mediterranean ports. Our esteemed local producers have taken over today and carry on this great historical heritage with pride. With their valuable efforts, Urla’s name is up onto the national and international trades today.
Agro- and gastro-tourism in Urla revolve around the vinyards and mysterious olive trees where you are invited to be a part of the stories the Urla peninsula offers you when you step on its soil.
Urla Gastronomy Route
The most memorable stories always start with discoveries. The points of the route followed, the doors open, new people and unexpected flavors are the main heroes of these stories. Although maps show the way, it is up to us to explore.
Urla’s local cousine is enriched with the contribution of the diversity of Turks who settled in Urla and its surroundings from the Aegean islands and the Balkans 100 years ago. Combined with the opportunities offered by the modern world, the local dish alternatives offer colorfully rich and tasteful variety which is difficult to choose from.
This is a discovery route that contains dozens of different memorable stories.It leaves it up to you to be caught in the flow of time, to determine the points to go and to take breaks. It assures you that it will only offer unforgettable flavors in an attractive geography.
Urla Gastronomy Route was created in 2019 with the aim of creating a common language by coming together in a number of famous restaurants in Urla. These restaurants set out to present the geography of Urla with its unique atmosphere and menus to all the enthusiasts of the route.
The restaurants in this formation are scattered throughout the route and promise to be unforgettable points of your discoveries with menus honoring local production in Urla.
So are you ready to taste one of the best, most talked about cuisines in the world from the hands of modern, delicious and master chefs?
Klazomenai Olive Oil Workshop
The excavations in the antique city of Klazomenai in Urla, reveal the first workshop and tools for olive oil production. It is the oldest one ever known in Anatolia. The technology was used to produce olive oil in 2600 BC and still can be used for production today.
The findings revealed small handy-mortars used to crush olives with grinding stones into ceramic pots used to separate olive oil from the 'black water' and olive oil was stored in amphorae then shipped away from the port.
After a thourough renovation in 2005, the ancient facility was converted into museum. The conversion of the wild olive tree into cultivated olive tree led to the obtaining of oil from its fruits. The workshop proves that Ionians had great technological contributions in the cultivation and production process in this geographical area. From Urla, olive oil and wine were transported by boat throughout the entire Mediterranean basin.
The museum is 350 m away from Maison Vourla Hotel.
Köstem Olive Oil Museum
Working Days: Tuesday-Sunday from
Working Hours: 10:00 - 17:00 (18:00 on weekends).
Phone: +90 537 911 2323.
Admission includes a guided tour of approx. 30-45-minutes.
Köstem Olive Oil Museum is located close to the village of Uzunkuyu, just northwest of Zeytinler, is the largest olive oil museum complex in the world. The museum construction initially started in 2002 by owner Dr. Levent Köstem, and historian Ali Ertan İplikçi and opened its doors to the public in November 2017.
The museum has an internal area of 5,650 square meters situated in a 20,000 square meters land and an arboretum with over 500 trees. The olive oil technology museum aims to preserve and display olive oil pressing systems established in Anatolia. Restored industrial equipment, ancient press stones and artifacts, as well as historical reproductions, trace the evolution across 4,000 years of the crushing, pressing, separation, and storage processes of olive oil production and distribution. A systematic approach has been taken to bring the education function to the forefront, including equipment demonstration and workshops.
At the entrance of the museum are a café/restaurant and a store selling olive oil, organic & handmade products, local interest books, olive wood items, ceramics and local craft items. There is an active olive oil processing on-site and storage plant collecting olives from over 11,000 trees in the vicinity. The museum also hosts wood & ceramic workshops and temporary exhibitions.
The museum is 25 km away from Maison Vourla Hotel.
The Limantepe Excavations in Urla, managed and carried out by Ankara University, shed light on important historical information about the oldest settlement of the region. Limantepe is known as the oldest city settlement in Urla. It is one of the harbors of the ancient Klazomenai City. It was one of the most important port cities of the Aegean in the year 3 thousand.
The excavations are 900 m away from Maison Vourla Hotel.
Vehbi Koç Marine Archeology Research Center
The Ankara University Underwater Archeological Research and Application Center opened the Ankara University Mustafa Vehbi Koç Marine Archeology Research Center in the Urla district of Izmir with the collaboration of Vehbi Koç Foundation, TINA Turkey Underwater Archeology Foundation and Urla Municipality.
It was established in in 2009 in an 11 acres area allocated by the Municipality of Urla in Çeşmealtı. The center consists of five different units: a restoration laboratory for underwater studies, a warehouse area, a library aimed to host national and international researches, a conference hall, and 4 acres of exhibition area. The academic research center has undertaken the mission of being the face of Turkey for international collaborations on underwater archeology research. The aim of the Archeopark in the project is to help contribute to the tourism activities in the region.
The underwater excavations are about a kilometer away from Maison Vourla Hotel.
URLA EMERGENCY ACCESS
Police Department: 155
Fire Department: 110
Coast Guard: 158
Mayor's Office: 0232 754 1088