Şirince Village

8 km (5 miles) east of Selçuk; 12 km (7½ miles) from Ephesus.

Once upon a time, villagers of this picturesque little hilltop aerie christened their town Çirkince (Turkish for “rather ugly”), allegedly to keep outsiders from discovering its charms. Now renamed Şirince (appropriately, the name means”cute” or “quaint”), this lovely cluster of shops, traditional Greek houses, and restaurants is set on a lush hill; the rows of houses have decorative eaves with nature motifs.

A former Greek enclave, Şirince has a 19th-century church and a stone basilica, also 19th-century, which has been restored and turned into an art
gallery. In the past few years, the village has become popular with travelers visiting the nearby historical sites. Village shops cater to them with quality handicrafts, including beautiful felt, or keçe at Kırkınca Keçe in the village center, as well as the famous locally produced fruit wines (the villagers also grow olives, peaches, figs, apples, and walnuts and the approach road is lined with tempting farm stands). In December 2012, believing Şirince’s “positive energy” would shield the village from the impending Mayan Apocalypse, would-be refugees flocked to the mountaintop. Canny villagers produced a commemorative wine, presumably some comfort to the “survivors.” Hiking around Şirince is quite pleasant, as the hills are a bit cooler than the lowlands. In winter, Turkish visitors come for local wine by a roaring fireplace, as the cold rain readies the valley for spring.

Bisecting the city of Selçuk is Atatürk Caddesi, which runs roughly north to south, and which doubles as the highway to Izmir once you leave the center of town. The tourist attractions are all within walking distance to the west of Atatürk Caddesi, with the castle crowning the summit of Ayasoluk Hill. Midway down the hill to the south are the Isabey Mosque and St. John’s Basilica, both accessible via St. Jean’s Sokaǧı. The train station, good for excursions to Izmir, Aphrodisias, and Denizli, near Pamuk -kale, is located on the eastern side of town near the end of Cengız Topel Caddesi (the eastern continuation of St. Jean’s Sok. to the west). This end of town acts as the hub of Selçuk’s shopping and business center, with a good concentration of banks, Internet cafes, kebap houses, and tea gardens. A green park in the center of town on the west side of Atatürk Caddesi hosts the tourist information office; on the west side of the park is the Ephesus Museum. The road to Kuşadası heads west from the otogar, passing the Gendarmerie and the Artemesion on the way past the turnoff for Ephesus.