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Travelers from Muğla to Marmaris know that when the road begins to curve down to the sea, Ören, the only flat expanse on Gökova Bay, stretches out in front of you like a golden tray.
Forty km from Milas, Ören years ago was just a quiet fishing village. Today it is also a refueling point for Blue Cruise yachts sailing the coves of Gökova Bay, the last inlet before the Aegean joins the Mediterranean. The area, which has undergone significant touristic development in recent years, is one of those rare places that preserve a charming small town air. But when spring comes, it takes on a new face, shedding winter’s gloom with its whitewashed hotels, bed&breakfasts and fish restaurants. The crescent-shaped beach, dotted with gaily painted straw umbrellas, hums with activity. Starved for sea and sun, holidaymakers abandon themselves to Gökova’s crystalline waters. On warm summer evenings the hiking trail just behind the beach is transformed into Ören’s very own esplanade. Leaning its back against the steep wall of the Kıran Mountains, the little town brims with frollicking children right up to mid-September.
PAST AND PRESENT INTERTWINED
The fishing village of yore is noted not only for tourism but also for its history. Traces of the ancient city, which takes its name from Keramos, son of the Dionysos and Ariadne of Greek mythology and originator of the art of pottery, can be found all over the town. The extant remains of the city, which was a member of the Carian Khrysaoris league, date for the most part to the Roman period. Known as Gereme after Anatolia passed into the hands of the Turks, in time it was transformed into Ören (‘ruin’ in Turkish) owing to the ancient ruins at the site. ‘Kurşunluyapı’, a temple with Ionian and Corinthian columns, a monumental gate that forms the wall of a house today, a basilica and defense walls can be regarded as the city’s most significant ruins. Among the oleanders near the lignite mines on the road to Muğla are what remains of the aqueducts that once carried water to the city. Proof that the ancient ruins are part and parcel of life today is the location of the necropolis right inside the local cemetery.
A BLUE CRUISE BY AIR
When touring Ören be sure to save a day for Kocatepe. This natural terrace just 15 km from the town is known not only for its spectacular view but also for its breakfast tables laden with the local specialties. Gazing at Ören and the endless blue expanse below amidst the scent of wild thyme is a pleasure that defies description. As you eat your breakfast, don’t be surprised to see a colorful paraglider take off just meters away. For Kocatepe is at the same time a paragliders’ mecca. When their feet leave the ground from the 640-meter rise, these adrenalin addicts start a breathtaking tour over the turquoise blue waters, the colorful straw umbrellas and the lemon and orange groves. This is one of the leading paragliding centers in the world due to hot air turbulence, which means that you can stay in the air for a long time and either rise even higher than your takeoff point or land at the same point.
Second only to fishing and tourism, carpet making is the main livelihood at Ören, which is also the birthplace of Turkish poet Melih Cevdet Anday (1915-2002). A portion of the reputable Milas carpets are woven by the skilled hands of the women of this charming resort town. The local market, set up on Wednesdays, offers a unique atmosphere not to be missed and a vibrant world resounding with the inimitable echoes of the Aegean dialect.
A COUNTRY PARADISE
Not to mention the coves of Akbük and Çökertme when speaking of Ören would be like putting down a wonderful novel half way through. Located at the Yerkesik-Gökova fork in the road, Akbük is a magnificent bay wedged between the Kıran Mountains, which rise sharply from the sea, and an emerald green peninsula poking out into the Mediterranean. Camping is possible on this crystal clear cove, only 20 km from Ören and as yet unspoiled by construction; if there’s room, you can also stay at the tiny bed&breakfast. As for Çökertme on the road to Mazı, there is no one who hasn’t heard of it from the Turkish folk song of the same name. This amazing bay, which harbors a number of tiny coves, is one of the main stops for Blue Cruise boats and yacht tourism. A small number of hotels, bed&breakfasts and restaurants serve travelers on the bay just 10 km from Ören.
Ören’s tranquility is captivating. But for those who prefer to be more active there are also opportunities are for paragliding, paramotoring, trekking, jeep safaris, sailing and diving. The ancient trail leading from the beach up to Alatepe and the two canyons on the road to Akbük are the most suitable places for hiking. Boat tours meanwhile leave twice daily from the breakwater: one bound for Sedef Adası-Okluk-İngiliz Limanı-Löngöz-Yedi Adalar, the other for Çökertme-Fesleğen-Sedef Adası-Ilgın-Kargılı-Hurma-İnceyalı-Şeytanderesi-Kisebükü. Both routes are chock full of memorable beauty spots.
Ören can be reached via the 45 km-long asphalt road lined with pines from the turnoff for Beçinkale on the Bodrum-Milas road. If you’re coming from Gökova, turn at the Yerkesik intersection on the road to Muğla. The 48-km stabilized coast road from Akyaka will take you to this charming resort town as well.