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Title: Ayvalik  
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For other places with the same name, see Ayvalık (disambiguation).


Location of Ayvalık within Turkey.
Location of Ayvalık within Turkey.

Coordinates: 39°19′10″N 26°41′40″E / 39.31944°N 26.69444°E / 39.31944; 26.69444Coordinates: 39°19′10″N 26°41′40″E / 39.31944°N 26.69444°E / 39.31944; 26.69444

Country  Turkey
Region Aegean
Province Balıkesir
 • Mayor Hasan Bülent Türközen (CHP)
AreaTemplate:Turkey district areas
 • District Template:Turkey district areas km2 (Formatting error: invalid input when rounding sq mi)
Population (Template:Turkey district populations)Template:Turkey district populations
 • Urban Template:Turkey district populations
 • District Template:Turkey district populations
Time zone EET (UTC+2)
 • Summer (DST) EEST (UTC+3)
Postal code 10400
Area code(s) +90 (266)
Licence plate 10

Ayvalık (pronounced [ˈajvaɫɯk]) is a seaside town facing the Greek island of Lesbos on the northwestern Aegean coast of Turkey. It is a district of the Balıkesir Province.

It was alternatively called Κυδωνίες, Kydonies by the town's former Greek population, although the use of the name Ayvalık was widespread for centuries among both the Turks and the Greeks (pronounced as Ayvali by the latter).


Ayvalık is a district in Turkey's Balıkesir Province on the Aegean Sea coast. It is situated on a narrow coastal plain surrounded by low hills to the east which are covered with pine and olive trees. Ayvalık is also surrounded by the archipelago of the Ayvalık Islands on the sea and by a narrow peninsula in the south named the Hakkıbey Peninsula. Ayvalık is the southernmost district of Balıkesir. Gömeç, Burhaniye and Edremit are other districts of the Balıkesir Province which are situated on the Aegean shores and they are lined up respectively to the north. The region is under the influence of a typical Mediterranean climate with mild and rainy winters and hot, dry summers.

In antiquity

Ayvalık was located in the ancient region named Aeolis in antiquity. The ruins of three important ancient cities are within a short driving distance away from Ayvalık: Assos and Troy are to the north, while Pergamon is to the east. Mount Ida (Turkish: Kaz Dağı) which plays an important role in ancient Greek mythology and folk tales (such as the cult of Cybele; the Sibylline books; the Trojan War and the epic poem Iliad of Homer; the nymph Idaea (wife of the river god Scamander); Ganymede (the son of Tros); Paris (the son of Priam); Aeneas (the son of Anchises and the goddess Aphrodite) who is the protagonist of the ancient Roman epic poem Aeneid of Virgil) is also near Ayvalık (to the north) and can be seen from numerous areas in and around the town center.


Various archeological studies in the region prove that Ayvalık and its environs were inhabited as early as the prehistoric ages. Joseph Thacher Clarke believed that he had identified it as the site of Kisthene, mentioned by Strabo as a place in ruins at a harbour beyond Cape Pyrrha[1] Kisthene was further identified by Engin Beksac of Trakya University, as Kiz Ciftlik, near the centre of Gomeç.

The Ayvalık Region was studied by Beksac in his survey of the Prehistoric and Protohistoric settlements on the Southern Side of the Gulf Of Adramytteion. The survey showed different settlements near the centre of Ayvalık which appear generally to relate to the Early Classical Periods. However, some settlements near the centre of Altınova were related to the Prehistoric Period, especially the Bronze and Iron Ages. Kortukaya, identified by Beksac, in his survey project in the 1990s and early 2000s, aids understanding of the interaction between the peoples of the interior and of the coast. Kortukaya is one of the most important settlements, along with another settlement, Yeniyeldeginmeni, near the centre of Altınova.

Traces of a hillfort were identified by Beksac on Ciplak Ada or Chalkys. Some Late Bronze Age and Early Iron Age Pottery fragments related to the Aeolians were found on the same island. Two tiny settlements, near the centre of Ayvalık were settlements in the Peraia of Mytillini.

Pordoselene, near the centre of Ayvalık, was also an important settlement ın Antiquity. The remnants, were on the eastern part of the Island of Cunda or Alibey, near the sea. All the archaeological data was related to the Classical and Medieval Ages.

The constant threat posed by piracy in the region during the previous ages did not allow the islet settlements to grow larger and only Cunda Island (alternatively known as Alibey Island, known among the Greeks as Moschonisia, literally "The Perfumed Island") could maintain a higher level of habitation as it is the largest and the closest islet to the mainland.

After the Byzantine period, the region came under the rule of the Anatolian beylik of Karasi in the 13th century and was later annexed to the territory of the Ottoman beylik (principality), which was to become the Ottoman Empire in the following centuries.

The locals contributed with their economies to the Greek struggle for Independence, including the famous Psorokostaina.

As of 1920, the population was estimated at 60,000. It had a small port, exporting soap, olive oil, animal hides and flour. The British described Ainali and nearby Edremit, as having the finest olive oil in Asia Minor. They reported large exportations of olive oil to France and Italy. However, the oil industry suffered due to the deportation of Christian populations in the area, who were primary makers of olive oil. During this time, the Turkish government relocated 4,500 Greek families to the area to make olive oil. Olive oil making Greeks were kept under government watch, in what the British described as olive oil labor camps.[2]

Until 1922, Ayvalık was almost entirely populated by Greeks. Anecdotal evidence indicates that, immediately after the defeat in the naval Battle of Chesma (Çeşme), the Ottoman admiral (later grand vizier) Cezayirli Gazi Hasan Pasha and his men from the ships who survived the disaster were lodged on their way back to the capital by a local priest in Ayvalık who did not know who they were. Hasan Pasha did not forget the kindness shown to his sailors in the hour of need, and when he became Grand Vizier, he accorded virtual autonomy to the Greeks of Ayvalık, paving the way for it to become an important cultural center for that community in the Ottoman Empire during the 19th and early 20th centuries.

The town was controlled by the Greek Army on 29 May 1919 and consequently taken again three years later by Turkish forces under the command of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk on 15 September 1922. A part of the population managed to depart to Greece. However, a significant part of the local males were seized by the Turkish Army and died during death marches in the interior of Anatolia. Among the victims was the Christian clergy and the local metropolitan bishop, Gregory Orologas.[3][4] Following the Turkish War of Independence, The Greek population and their properties in the town were exchanged by a Muslim population from Greece and other formerly held Ottoman Turk lands under the 1923 agreement for the Exchange of Greek and Turkish Populations. Most of the new population that replaced the former Greek community were Muslim Turks from Mytilene, Crete and Macedonia. One could still hear Greek spoken in the streets until recently. Many of the town's mosques are Greek Orthodox churches that have been converted into Muslim mosques.

Modern Ayvalık

Today, Ayvalık and the numerous islets encircling the bay area are popular holiday resorts. The most important and the biggest of these islets is Cunda Island (Alibey Island) that is connected to Lale Adasi, and thence to the mainland, by a bridge built in the late 1960s. This is the first and currently the oldest surviving bridge in Turkey that connects lands separated by a strait.

In September 1998, an international music academy was established in Ayvalık where students receive master-instructed classes for violin, viola and cello. It brings together students from all over the world and gives them a precious opportunity to work with distinguished masters of their branch.

USA-based Harvard University and Turkey's Koç University have established a joint project in Cunda Island of Ayvalık and run a Harvard-Koç University Intensive Ottoman & Turkish Summer School every summer.[5][6]

Ayvalık also has two of the longest sandy beaches of Turkey which extend as far as the Dikili district of İzmir nearly 30 km (19 mi) in the south. These are the Sarımsaklı and Altınova beaches.

In recent years Ayvalık has also become an important point of attraction for scuba divers with its underwater fauna.

Ayvalık and its environs are famous for the highly appreciated quality of olive oil production.[7]

Today, the population of Ayvalık is close to 30,000, which significantly increases during the summer due to tourism. Ayvalık is also close to Bergama (ancient Pergamon) which is another important attraction for tourists with its ruins, dating back to antiquity.

With its rich architectural heritage, Ayvalık is a member of the European Association of Historic Towns and Regions (EAHTR)

Notable people

See also


External links

  • Cunda Island
  • Panoramic pictures of island Tr
  • Pictures of Ayvalik and Alibey Island Tr
  • AYKUSAD, Ayvalık Association of Culture and Arts (Turkish)
  • Pictures of Ayvalik

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