İzmir Dergisi, 8 terabytelık Dünyanın en büyük İzmir Arşivi

A never ending dream; Foça

Foça is a place where joy and calmness surrounds your soul thanks to its crystal clear sea, bougainvillea that adorn stone houses, seagulls that sing, great smelling wonder flowers and warm people.

 There are places that caress your soul and bring out the joy in you even if you've been there only once. Before seeing Foça, you surely haven't dreamed of a space nestled inside the sea. There are only a handful of places that are amazing throughout the year, inhabited by birds, fish and seals where you can swim in a crystal clear sea.

Foça is one of the few towns that has managed to preserve its authentic structure in the Aegean. This cute town, which looks like a dreamland, draws you in with its narrow streets that lead to the sea, stone houses adorned with colorful flowers, windmills, horse carriages and warm people. It is impossible not to fall in love and return to Foça. 

When you get to Foça, the amazing unison of green and blue accompanies you on your journey. While you are driving from Old Foça to New Foça, the bays of Mersinaki you'll see along the way are the best beaches in the area. The bay at the center of Foça, at the intersection of Reha Midilli and Aşıklar Avenue, is called Little Sea. This is the heart of the city; restaurants, shops, bars and the fishing market are all here. In this town that smells of fish and moss, you can share your morning tea with the fishermen or jump into the sea for a quick swim.

The land of islands

There are many islands of all sizes such as Orak (93 ha), İncir (18 ha), Fener (14 ha), Hayırsız (5 ha), Kartdere (2 ha) and Metelik (1,5 ha). There is a long pebble beach on the southern shore of Orak Island and steep cliffs on Orak, Hayırsız and Kartdere islands. The islands are usually covered in herbaceous plants and macquis. There is a small pine forest on the northern shore of İncir Island and a space covered with cacti on Fener Island. 

You can take a daily boat tour or rent a yacht to travel to these islands. Your first stop will be Orak, which is half an hour from Foça. There is a small lake on the first part of the island. If you walk parallel to the lake, you will get to the amazing Siren Cliffs. If you're lucky, you can see Mediterranean seals between the cliffs.

Enchanting stone houses 

Foça, which has been home to many civilizations throughout history, attracts attention with its stone houses that have retained their originality. Old stone houses that have stood the test of time adorn the historical streets of Foça. These houses, which have bas relief epigraphs and symbols regarding the owner and construction date of the house, are historical structures. These houses which were built in the1800's are amazing with their high ceilings, wooden shutters, magnificent decorations, doorjambs and elegant alcoves. Some of these houses are now used as boutique hotels, restaurants or cafes. 

A natural cuisine

Foça, with its clean air, perfect sea and great cuisine, is like a therapy center. Foça is Turkey's first representative in the International Slow Food Movement, and its market called Foça Earth Market was named the best market in 2014 during the Earth Markets Competition in Italy.

The cuisine of Foça consists of all dishes made on the shores of Western Anatolia and Aegean islands. The basis of the cuisine includes Aegean herbs and seafood and important dishes are; olive oil dishes made with artichoke, fennel and endemic herbs, appetizers and salad. Fish in yoghurt, fish soup, stuffed calamari, stuffed fish and fish leg are the special dishes you must sample.

The city of free sailors

Foça (Phokaia) which takes its name from the seals that live on the islands in the vicinity, was built by the Aioli in 11th century B.C. Foça, which developed with the arrival of Ionians, had a dynamic economy based on seafaring and overseas colonization. The people of Foça, who were advanced engineers, built fast boats that could carry 500 passengers instead of large cargo boats. They were the free sailors of vast blues with their sailboats that stood even the fiercest winds and storms.

The success of Phoenicians at sea made them also successful in trade. Phokaia was one of the first cities in Ionia to mint the electron coin, a mix of natural gold and silver. While they laid the foundations of Western civilization, they became the pioneer of philosophy, art and architecture. The Phoenicians, thanks to their superior intellect in engineering and success at sea, established many colonies in the Aegean, Mediterranean and Black Se. Amisos in the Black Sea (Samsun); Lampsakos in Çanakkale Strait (Lapseki); Methymna on Lesbos Island (Molyvoz); Elea in Southern Italy (Velia), Alalia in Corsica, Massalia in Southern France (Marseilles), Nice and Antibes and Emporia in Spain are some of the colonies they established.

Traces of history

Beş Kapılar Castle is located between two bays called Küçükdeniz and Büyükdeniz. This antique castle was given to Manuel Zacharna in 1275 by Michel Paleoloc and its walls were repaired by the Genovese. The walls were renovated once again when Foça became a part of the Ottoman Empire in 1455 and were adorned with towers; which 9 of them we can see today. The amphitheatre at Beş Kapılar is known as the boat shed. According to its epigraph above the gate, it was renovated during the reign of Suleiman the Magnificent.

The castle on the southwest of Foça, located at Cape Kale, is referred to as the Outer Castle or Genovese Castle. According to sources, it was built in 1678 on a strategic point for defense purposes. The castle, which is located on a cape, is separated from the mainland with a huge trench.

Cybele amphitheatre, which is one of the most important historical remains in Foça, is dated to 580 B.C. In the five niches, there used to be the statues and bas reliefs of Cybele, the main goddess. The sacrificial pool carved into the rock and small niches for lanterns prove that sailors came here to worship.

An artworks from every civilization

One of the most important remains from historical Foça are the remains around the tomb called Taş Castle, Taş House or Satrap Tomb. It is believed that the tomb belonged to a commander or a satrap that was in the region during the Persian reign and was built in the second half of 546 B.C. The tomb, which has steps that lead to a cubic top, was carved into a local rock. There are steps on the right and left side of the tomb for religious ceremonies. Pits that are located on these steps were carved as fire pits. Niches carved around the stone were established for sacrificial ceremonies.

The rock tomb on the outskirt of Can Dede Hill is known as the Bath of Satan. This structure, which is a family tomb carved into rocks, consists of a long path and two tomb chambers. Ord. Prof. Dr. Ekrem Akurgal dated the tomb to 4th century B.C. during his excavations.

The antique theatre, known as the oldest theatre in Anatolia, is another artifact unearthed after digs. The theatre, dated to 340-330 B.C., was made from tufa, a durable stone known locally as Foça stone.

The walls known as the Archaic Wall had 5 kilometer long ramparts in the Archaic Age and still stand strong. Since Herodotus often mentioned it, it's also known as the Wall of Herodotus. The 4 meter gap near the wall was the gateway. The 5 meter wide towers on both sides of the gate have wooden beams but they are almost burnt down. Persian arrows and spearheads, broken amphorae and an old catapult ball prove that there was a huge war here in 546 B.C., most probably between the Persians and the Phoenicians.

Turkish period artworks 

The most important structure in this category is Fatih Mosque. There are two epigraphs in the mosque. The one on the courtyard door is dated 1531. According to the epigraph, the courtyard door was built by someone named Mustafa Ağa. According to the epigraph above the main entrance, the mosque was rebuilt by the order of Suleiman the Magnificent. So we can deduce that the mosque was commissioned by the sultan after the conquest of Foça, surrounded by a courtyard in 1531 and then rebuilt.

The Ottoman Cemetery is also an important historical site. We can clearly see that the cemetery was open for burials until the end of 16th century. Tombstones include various decorations such as rose- the symbol of the Prophet Mohammed- tulip- the symbol of elegance, cypress tree- the symbol of eternity, grapes which symbolize fertility, the date tree, the symbol of heaven and many plant motifs.

Siren Cliffs and the sweetest melody

Siren Cliffs are one of the most important scenic beauties in Foça. Sirens, which lived on empty islands and cliffs according to Greek mythology, were beautiful creatures that had huge wings, the body of a bird and the head of a woman. Their faces are beautiful and their voices are impressive. According to legend, they lure sailors with their voices, and when their ships collide with the cliffs, simply devour them. 

We first see sirens and the cliffs in Homer's Odyssey. According to legend, King Odysseus, who is returning from the Trojan War, approaches the island near Foça where the sirens live. While he is about to go between these cliffs, he remembers Circe's warning about the sirens. In order not to give in to the screams of the sirens, he wraps himself around the masts of the ship, seals his mouth with a sponge and seals the ears of his sailors with candle wax. Just as he's passing by the sirens, he feels and urge to stay at this spot forever. He wants to shout out to his sailors to stop but his mouth is covered with sponge.

.Sirens, from Odysseus, the hero of Homer's Odyssey;

..."Great Goddess Kirke said to me, no matter what, avoid the sirens..

Avoid their enchanting voices, their flowery meadows.

You listen to that voice but they should tie you to the mast...

I said and warned my friends...

In the meantime our ship had reached the island of the sirens..

Because a fierce wind was pushing us from behind...

Then the wind fell, the sea became flat.

A god had calmed all the waves.

My friends got up and gathered the sails,

Then foamed the sea with their oars.

Then I ripped the wax with my copper sword,

Crushed it with my strong hands.

Wiped on the their ears.

They could no longer hear the sirens...

They tied me to the mast..

Then they began whipping the sea with their oars...

-We thought- wish we can quickly get out of here.

But the sirens saw the fast ship near 

They started singing:

-Come here Odysseus, the pride of the Akha.

Stop the ship and hear our voice.

No ship has passed though here,

without listening to the sweet sounds,

They listen and they learn,

We know what happens in Troy...

They sang and my heart wanted to listen,

I used my brows to signal my friends

Told them to untie me

However, they kept on rowing..

A while later, we were far away from the sirens

We could no longer hear them..."

The symbol of vitality and waking early

Witnessing the rise of a nation on the shores of Foça...

One of the symbols of Foça is the rooster, the symbol of early rising and vitality. This symbol was used at the bow of ships, in the Public Senate as terracotta statuettes, in temples and the agora in Phokaia.

In the first half of 6th century B.C., Phokaia was living its golden age but those years also saw the unstoppable expansion of Persians. Persian armies, which defeated everyone, besieged Phokaia. The city was surrounded with 18-20 meter ramparts but nothing was strong enough to stop the Persians. The people of Phokaia knew they couldn't resist any longer and asked for a single night of peace before surrendering. Persian King Harpagos agreed. When the Persians invaded the city in the morning, no one was there. The people of Foça, who preferred to become refugees rather than slaves, had already set sail with their most valuable possessions. Each ship that sailed had a rooster carved from wood on the bow.

They were skilled sailors so they made it to port cities and built settlements. Marseilles, which is the second biggest city in France, is one of these settlements. A brass plate at the Port of Marseilles reads, "This city was built in 600 B.C. by Phoenicians from Anatolia" In France, the city is still known as "La Ville Phocéenne ".

This is how the rooster came to Marseilles and became the symbol of the city. This symbol, also known as the Galician Rooster, slowly spreads to entire France. After the French Revolution, it becomes the symbol of France thanks to the people of Marseilles who sing the anthem with flags with roosters on them.

From Foça to Marseilles

In the summer of 2009, an important event occurred and thanks to a project by the 360 Degrees Historical Research Society, the historical journey of Phoenicians in 600 B.C. was reenacted via a ship called Cybele, built with original materials from that period. The ship, with a crew consisting of scientists and volunteers, set sail on June 7, 2009, followed the route taken by Phoenicians and reaches Marseilles in 56 days. The ship was 19 meters log and 4, 5 meters wide. It had 20 oars and a 12 meter mast.

Cybele, which aimed to unearth the source of Aegean and Mediterranean joint culture, enlighten us about the history of Aegean based European cities, accentuate the importance of Izmir and its vicinity in commerce during the antique age and advertise Turkey in France, carried out a very important mission.

Under the most beautiful sky... 

Foça, which was established under the most beautiful sky we know and the best climate, in the words of Herodotus who came to Anatolia to write about the Trojan War, takes you to a dream World with its magnificent nature, cultural structure and historical assets. It embroiders the warmth and joy of the Aegean onto your soul.

Don’t forget; it is time to pay a visit to Foça and discover the blue shelter of your dreams

Source: www.kultur.gov.tr