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Pearl of the Aegean Bozcaada
2003 / AUGUST

There are places that make you wonder why you never thought to visit them before, and one of these is the island of Bozcaada in the northern Aegean, just south of the Dardanelles. Bozcaada is a six to seven hour drive from Istanbul, making it easily accessible for even a short break. Combining beautiful scenery and fascinating history, Bozcaada is an untouched treasure. A picturesque town with its old castle welcomes you as the ferry enters a harbour filled with fishing boats. This is the only settlement on the island, along whose peaceful uninhabited coasts are many beaches and turquoise coves perfect for swimming. Moreover good asphalt roads lead to all of them, and the map of the island which is available almost everywhere in the town makes it easy to get wherever you want to go. If you enjoy cycling a wonderful journey through the vineyards which cover most of the island and along the coast awaits you. The old houses of the town are adorned with vines and brightly coloured geraniums, and cats wander lazily in the narrow streets. Fishing and grape cultivation are the main occupations of the local people.

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Pearl of the Aegean Bozcaada
2003 / AUGUST

In recent years more and more people have been discovering Bozcaada's delights as a holiday destination, not least because the friendly inhabitants make visitors feel like old friends. On summer evenings if you go to one of the coffee houses close to the harbour or one of the restaurants shaded by pine trees, you will notice this welcoming atmosphere immediately. An increasing number of people have begun to make Bozcaada their second home, coming in winter as well as summer to escape the stress, crowds and traffic of the big cities. Car ferries to Bozcaada sail two or three times a day from the Bozcaada-Yükyeri Ferryboat Quay at Geyikli, 15 km south of the city of Çanakkale on the road to Izmir. This first stage of the journey takes you through beautiful scenery, past cotton fields and olive groves. In past centuries the islnd'si inhabitants were a mixture of Turks and Greeks, and there are still Turkish and Greek quarters in the town today. Although the number of Greeks is down to 30 or 40 people today, most of them elderly,

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Pearl of the Aegean Bozcaada
2003 / AUGUST
the younger having emigrated to Greece and elsewhere around the world, many of the emigrants return every summer. Most make their visit coincide with the Vine Harvest Festival which takes place on 12 and 13 August, some coming from as far afield as America and Australia. One or two of the cobbled streets in the Greek quarter are particularly colourful during the summer season, with their pots of red, pink and white geraniums and oleander bushes. In front of some of the houses are mosaics consisting of grey and white stones. The summit of Göztepe Hill offers the best view over the island and across the white flecked sea to the distant Anatolian mainland where the legendary city of Troy stood. Bozcaada, known as Tenedos in antiquity, features in Homer's account of the Trojan War in the Iliad. Traces of the ancient city of Tenedos were discovered when building a new school in the town, and clay figurines and pottery bowls and jars have been found on the site of the necropolis which remained in use from the 6th century BC until the Roman period.
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Pearl of the Aegean Bozcaada
2003 / AUGUST

The only complaint one might have about Bozcaada is the wind. In the summer months an offshore breeze, the meltem, blows constantly and is welcome in the summer heat, but the southwesterly and northeasterly winds that blow at other times of the year can be sufficiently fierce to prevent the ferries from sailing. However, the islanders have turned this to advantage by making use of wind energy. A few years ago a Turkish-German venture established a power plant supplied with energy from 17 wind propellors erected at the southern extremity of the island. Bozcaada Castle faces eastwards towards the mainland from its perch on a high rocky headland. Known as Eski Kale or Old Castle by local people, today it houses an ethnographic exhibition and an open air display of ancient finds. It is surrounded on three sides by sea and on the landward side by a moat that is thought to have once been filled with water. The castle was originally built by the Phoenicians, was enlarged by the Venetians and Genoese,

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Pearl of the Aegean Bozcaada
2003 / AUGUST

and exten-sively repaired on several occasions by the Ottomans, so that the structure as seen today largely dates from the second half of the 15th century. With its turquoise sea, uninhabited coves, vineyards, pine forests, delicious fresh fish, local wine and hospitable people, Bozcaada has become a favourite holiday destination over recent years, yet even at the height of the summer season the island remains tranquil. Do not be put off by the windy reputation of the island, since depending on the direction it is blowing you can always find a sheltered sand beach and unruffled sea. Refreshed after a day spent swimming in the cold water, you can enjoy a hot glass of tea in one of the cafés along the harbour and look forward to a delicious evening meal in one of the waterfront restaurants facing the old castle, which is lit up to romantic effect at night. Our planned stay of three days on Bozcaada stretched out to six before we made a reluctant departure.
* Izzet Keribar is a photographer and freelance writer

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