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Old and New: FOÇA
2002 / September

Heading westwards across the fertile plain watered by the Gediz River, you suddenly catch the salty scent of the sea in the air. Then a monumental tower thought to have been built by one of the generals of Alexander the Great comes into sight at the right-hand side of the road next to a Roman bridge. Then you cross the pine clad hills and suddenly find yourself facing the blue Aegean, a coast indented with bays stretching out in both directions, the sand beach of Orak Island, lighthouses, and the minaret of Fatih Mosque. Gazing upon this entrancing landscape, it feels as if you only have to reach out to touch the sails of the yachts, the nets of the fishermen and the light of the lighthouse.

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Old and New: FOÇA
2002 / September

At the entrance to the town of Foça are statues of seals, which are both the origin of Foça's name and its mascot. The small colony of just nine Mediterranean seals (Monacus monacus) is protected under a programme supported by the Worldwide Fund for Nature, and it is forbidden to dive and fish in the sea around the cliffs where they live. The name Foça comes from the ancient Phokaia, which means 'town of seals,' and many coins minted here bear the figure of a seal.

Foça was founded by the Aeolians in the 11th century BC, and expanded in both size and wealth in the 9th century with the arrival of Ionians from Kyme, Erythrae and Teos. The Phokaians established colonies far and wide, not only on the Aegean, Mediterranean and Black Sea coasts, but at Elea (Velia) in Italy, Alaia in Corsica, and Marseille in France, using boats with 50 oars capable of carrying 500 people.

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Old and New: FOÇA
2002 / September
The historic tie between Foça and Marseille is commemorated today in a special friendship between the two ports. Navigation and trade brought prosperity to Phokaia, whose earliest settlement was on an island that today is a peninsular joined to the mainland and lying between two bays known as Büyük Deniz and Küçük Deniz (Big Sea and Little Sea). In the 13th century Foça came under the rule of the Seljuk Çakabey, and in 1455 became part of the Ottoman Empire. The castle at Bes Kapilar was constructed during the reign of Mehmed II (1451-1481) and repaired by Süleyman the Magnificent (1520-1566). The section of the castle used for open-air concerts today is the former Ottoman boatyard. There are two Ottoman mosques on the peninsular, the Fatih and Kayalar.
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Old and New: FOÇA
2002 / September

Archaeological excavations are continuing in this part of the town, where you will come across the remains of an ancient wall and a mosaic pavement belonging to a 4th or 5th century Roman villa, as well as carefully restored stone houses more than a century old. Almost all the streets in Foça lead down to the sea, where the wind ruffles the waves and small boats dot the surface. From an Ottoman period almanac dated 1891 we learn that Old Foça had a population of 14,548, that its municipality had an annual income of 30,000 kurus, and that 81 lamps illuminated the streets. The almanac warns that since the streets are so narrow, the municipality must clean them well. New Foça had a population of 7002.

Walking along the sea front as the sun begins to sink towards the horizon, the fishermen mending their nets join in the conversations of the strollers. The fishing boats set out to sea at sundown, and meanwhile back on shore the fish restaurants begin to bustle in readiness for their evening customers.

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Old and New: FOÇA
2002 / September
The fresh seafood is delicious, and local specialities include fish with yoghurt and savoury pastry known as Albanian börek. Yeni Foça is 20 kilometres away along a road that winds along the coast past innumerable lovely bays which are quiet and deserted during the week, and perfect to stop for a swim.

Yeni Foça was founded as a naval base by the Genoese, who called it Niyez Fokez or Phokainova. Alum was mined here for use in the dyeing industry and a local stone known as foçateyn was quarried for millstones. Streets of stone houses built by the Anatolian Greek inhabitants of the town are in a good state of preservation, but otherwise there are no old buildings here
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Old and New: FOÇA
2002 / September

After wandering through these streets, a delicious smell of grilling fish draws you towards one of the numerous restaurants, and you find yourself seated at a table enjoying more local flavours.


* Ömer Faruk Üründül is a photographer and writer.

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