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Article: OYLUM YILMAZ Photo: SANER GÜLSÖKEN
With its extensive beaches, marina, marketplace and gentle breezes, Turgutreis, the largest bay on the Bodrum peninsula, has become a recent favorite with vacationers.
All along the shore, from one end to the other, no matter where you stand, no matter where you look from, you will feel that you are in a place where the sunset is always beautiful. Blood-red geraniums at the foot of the olive trees, beneath your feet the vast and endless sea, and overhead the Aegean's azure sky... Vanity, vanity, all is vanity… You're at Turgutreis, at the spot on the Bodrum peninsula where the sunset is most beautiful.
Bodrum is actually a series of different 'cove-villages' large and small spread over an enormous peninsula. All of them attract people, promising different things. leaving them spellbound. The largest of these 'cove-villages', Turgutreis, is a fast-growing coastal town. A tiny village on a narrow, dirt road just ten years ago, nobody gave it a second look. Today it is a hub of tourism, an alternative to Bodrum itself. With its endless beaches, its own unique street of bars, and its marina, as well as an enormous open air market, giant supermarkets, a covered bazaar where you can find anything and everything, and a sizeable and dynamic population, it has recently become a favorite with those for whom 'vacation' is synonymous with Bodrum.
A FIVE-HUNDRED YEAR-OLD HISTORY
Although it goes back only ten years as a popular resort, Turgutreis has a five-hundred-year history as a settlement. For the Ottoman Admiral Turgut Reis, for whom the town is named, was born here five hundred years ago in the present-day village of Karabağ. His heroic naval victories ensured that his name not only was given to the place where he was born and grew up but would endure forever even after he was gone. But the history of Turgutreis, as of the entire Aegean coast, does not of course begin with the Ottoman admiral but rather pre-dates ancient Greece, going back to the Leglegians, as is evidenced by the rock-cut tombs on the Turgutreis hills, even though they may hold little interest for holidaymakers or the municipal government today.
The municipality of Turgutreis has several settlements outside the town center: Kadıkalesi, Akçabük, Akyarlar, Bağla and Aspat are the main coves within its boundaries. Kadıkalesi with its large resort villages lies on the border between Turgutreis and Gümüşlük. Having established its reputation in the Hellenistic period and taking its name from a fortress used by a judge in the Ottoman period, it is connected with Turgutreis by a charming, tree-lined 4-km road eminently suitable for leisurely strolls or bike rides.
Akyarlar, which undoubtedly boasts the most beautiful seascape on the entire Bodrum peninsula, stands at the loveliest spot of all, where a day spent in the sea is rounded off nicely by a fresh fish dinner. The Turgutreis breezes, which offer relief all summer long, enrapturing both yachting enthusiasts and surfers, barely touch the cove of Akyarlar. Akyarlar's main rival, and an even more placid cove also sheltered from the wind, is its neighbor Karaincir which all summer along attracts those who want to spend their entire vacation swimming in the sea. The fortress here, built by pirates long ago and still standing today, Aspat famous for its luscious water, and Bağla, a favorite with yacht tours, are all situated on Turgutreis's touristic coastline; the last is an ideal spot for those who want to camp at Bodrum.
THE PENINSULA'S SHOPPING MALL
Besides offering sun and sea, Turgutreis is also a shopping mecca today. The chief factor here is the peninsula's biggest food and clothing market, which is set up every Saturday. This ancient tradition, which has brought people from all over Bodrum to Turgutreis for years, must have attracted the supermarkets as well, for the area is now host to some of Turkey's largest. And when you add in the enormous bazaar –including the street of bars, the street of artists that opens in summer, and the street of handicrafts which is part of the marina– then it would not be far off to call Turgutreis a true 'open air shopping center'. But the greatest advantage of Turgutreis when it comes to shopping is that you always have many alternatives to choose from. And which one you choose depends entirely on you. Those who tire of supermarkets can go to the open air market; those who don't care for the souvenirs at the market can easily opt for the street of handicrafts. This street, one of the most attractive spots in the marina, which has transformed the face of Turgutreis forever, preserves its existence without compromising its character, combining unique personal designs with traditional hand-made items. Colorful Bodrum-style gourd lamps, one-of-a-kind paper beads no two of which are alike, puppets made of felt, traditional Turkish embroidery and, especially, the jewelry are the most outstanding. Our advice? Don't pass by without having a look. The fish restaurants at the start of the beaches, the tasty fruits and vegetables in the markets, and the friendly banter of the congenial natives all caught our attention as being among the things not to be missed in Turgutreis. One of the best spots for savoring the sunset, this town is a harbor that promises far more than meets the eye, and a place to which any comer to Bodrum will eventually find his way.