Ayvalık Trip

Visit to Cunda Island

We visited Ayvalık with Mert, Buket, and Aras. The first stop of our 4-day Ayvalık tour was Cunda Island. Cunda was first mentioned in the works of Herodotus, and it is understood that the name Cunda appeared as Ekotonisos in his works. Another name for Cunda is Alibey Island. While exploring Cunda, do not forget to wander through the narrow streets that resemble a photograph at every step.

One of the first tourist attractions that comes to mind when talking about Cunda is the Stone Coffeehouse, the city's historical symbol. Famous for its coffee, this coffeehouse is among the beloved places with its intimate and warm architecture. Also, the fact that swallows nest in the coffeehouse is an interesting detail. Right after the Stone Coffeehouse, we visited the Rahmi Koç Museum. The old Taxiarchis Church was restored by the Koç Group and turned into a museum. As of 2019, the entrance fees are 7 TL for adults, 3 TL for students and museum card holders, and free for teachers. This museum in Cunda can be thought of as a miniature version of the Rahmi Koç Museum in Istanbul, which houses old cars and toys.

After the museum visit, we stopped by Cunda Black Sea Pastry Shop to try the highly recommended cottage cheese dessert. The cottage cheese dessert, reminiscent of Kemalpaşa dessert, was also very delicious. We also recommend trying the almond, mastic, and tahini cookies of the pastry shop. In the evening, we completed the first day by going to Neş'e Meyhanesi, recommended for delicious appetizers and dishes.

Day 2

We started the second day by visiting Turkey's first throat bridge, which connects Cunda Island to Ayvalık. The bridge is called the first throat bridge in Turkey because it was built 9 years before the Istanbul Throat Bridge. We continue our tour by wandering through the streets of Ayvalık. Since the market is set up in Ayvalık on Thursdays, it becomes quite crowded, and if you want to escape the chaos of the market, you can turn into the side streets. While wandering the back streets, you can visit the Saatli Mosque. Built as a Greek Church in 1879, the Saatli Mosque continued to serve as a mosque after the population exchange starting from 1924. After the Saatli Mosque, we visited the Taxiarchis Monument Museum. Known as Ayvalık's first church, the Taxiarchis Church was built between the 15th and 16th centuries. Ayvalık was shaped around this church. The church, which was worn out over time due to earthquakes and various disasters, took its present form in 1893. Restored by the Ministry of Culture in 2012, the church was reopened to visitors in 2013. Entrance to the church is free for museum card holders.

Before moving on to the Devil's Coffeehouse, let's briefly mention the history of Ayvalık. Firstly, it is worth mentioning that it was called Kidonya and settled by the ancient people of Misya in ancient times. Over time, Cunda Island, which hosted many civilizations including the Romans and Byzantines, was occupied by many states. On May 29, 1919, with the support of the British, the region fell under Greek occupation and was liberated from enemy occupation on September 15, 1922, with the first shot fired by Lieutenant Colonel Ali Bey, the commander of the 172nd Regiment, during the War of Independence.

When in Ayvalık, it is a must to visit the Devil's Coffeehouse, famous for its coffee and featured in the movie "I Can't Sleep While the Moon Is Rising" directed by Şerif Gören. This coffeehouse, passed down from grandfather to grandson, started to be called by the nickname of Mustafa Bey's grandfather in 1907 and has survived to this day. After the coffee break, it was inevitable not to try the original Ayvalık toast when in Ayvalık. You can taste the original Ayvalık toast at Aşkın Tost Evi. Contrary to popular belief, the original Ayvalık toast is made with tulum cheese, butcher sausage, and special Ayvalık bread, not with Russian salad, salami, and sausage. After the meal, you can lose yourself among the old Balat-like houses in the Macaron neighborhood and be captivated by the delicious appetizers at Papalina for dinner, as well as by Saganaki, a fried cheese appetizer famous in Greece.

Day 3

We started the day by visiting the Sevim-Necdet Kent Library, which we could not visit because it closed at 17:30 on the first day. The building, built as a church in 1453, was restored by the Rahmi Koç Foundation in 2007 and converted into a library named after Necdet Kent, one of the important ambassadors of the Republic of Turkey. Necdet Kent, who was awarded the distinguished service medal for helping Jews escape during the Nazi genocide, donated his books to this library, which were later donated by his son, businessman Muhtar Kent.

After leaving Cunda, we arrived in Küçükköy, about a 20-minute drive away. This village, where Fatih Sultan Mehmet placed the Janissaries when he set out on a campaign, was called Küçükköy by the Greeks in the old period. Nowadays, it is called Yeni Çarahori.

This village, where the dominant architecture is Greek, stands out with its art gallery and being intertwined with art. The migration of the Greek population living here during the exchange period to the Balkans and the migration of the Bosnian people to this village affected the village's cuisine. It should be noted that it is also a famous village with dishes such as Bosnian Mantı, Pita, and Bosnian Börek. After Küçükköy, we took a break at Macaron Patisserie. We tried the highly recommended "almond pudding." We cannot fail to mention that the basil sherbet served alongside was also very delicious. We recommend trying other dessert varieties such as orange-chocolate pudding. Finally, we ended the day by visiting the Devil's Table. It is said that there is a pit here where the devil's footprint is found, and we recommend enjoying the magnificent view and sunset without returning.

Day 4

You can enjoy the olive trees and village breakfast in Mutluköy, which is about a 20-minute drive from Cunda Island, and start your journey back home refreshed. We can say that Ayvalık is one of the best choices for a sea vacation and sightseeing in the Aegean Region. A 4-day summer vacation is enough time to explore everything in detail. At the end of our tour, we have a small recommendation for those who are considering a holiday in Ayvalık with a baby or child. If you are using a stroller, be prepared for long walks, as all roads are covered with cobblestones to preserve the natural structure of the region.