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Middle East » Turkey » Aegean » Ayvalik
October 3rd 2004
Published: October 3rd 2004
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Church? What Church?Church? What Church?Church? What Church?

What are you talking about dude? That's quite obviously a mosque... Can't you see the minaret (under construction)?
Ayvalik. An inseperable part of the Turkish national homeland(!). Signs all over point out that it was here that the first military resistance was formed against the advancing Greeks back in 1919. I daresay I'm a bit puzzled. By all indications this was as Greek a town as any in western Anatolia. I spent all day walking down the quiet narrow alleys, among unmistakably Greek houses, spotting the occasional unmistakable church. One sign on a shop read "Rum evleri tamir ve yikimi yapilir" (lit. "We fix and demolish Greek houses").

This is yet another town fallen victim to the forced population exchange between Greece and Turkey -- Greek speaking Turks sent east to Anatolia, and Turkish speaking Greeks shipped off to Greece. A true tragedy. Yashar Kemal has an excellent trilogy "Bir Ada Hikayesi" (lit. "An Island Story") which deals with the general theme.

Upon arrival I was left hanging somewhere between ridicule and disbelief seeing minarets being put up around Greek cathedrals. "Nossir, no Greeks here. Only Turks. This is and has always been an inseperable part of the Turkish national homeland." Of course, someone pointed out that the Greeks apparently demolished all mosques when they gained their
Port of AyvalikPort of AyvalikPort of Ayvalik

The place has killer views at sunset. This is where I spent hours trying to catch fish.
independence, so maybe Turkey has the moral highground.

I'm staying at a kickass hostel, with great staff, an awesome view, decent amenities, and just an awesome aura. It used to be a Greek house or something. Rather than pay 7million (roughly $5) for breakfast, I went out and bought my own goods (spent 17million) which I then brought back to the hostel and cooked. I hadn't eaten a decent sunday brunch in ages, and those scrambled eggs with sausage tasted awesome. After wandering around and taking pictures, I bought a line and tackle and decided to try my hand at fishing. After all, my friend Tutku had tried to convince me to give everything up and become a fisherman. Needless to say the experiment was a complete disaster; I basically ended up feeding the fish a bunch of bait. I quit at sunset, without having caught a single fish. At the same time there were 8-9 year olds who had bags packed with fish they caught. Bastards.

Last night I was sent on a wild goose chase to the nearby island of Junda (tr. Cunda) in search of a water pipe (nargile). The nargile I found was OK,
View from HostelView from HostelView from Hostel

This is what you see when you look out from the terrace of the hostel. Although the minaret isn't quite visible (yet), it's a *mosque*.
and the atmosphere was pretty cool, but it wasn't the kind I wanted (tombeki). I still consider Bergama to be the holy grail of nargile smoking experiences. Fortunately, the nay-sayers who claimed there are no nargile joints on the mainland turned out to be wrong, and I spotted a suitable looking joint during my wanderings today.

Apart from fruitlessly attempting to catch fish, there appears to be enough activities to keep me busy for another 3-4 days in Ayvalik. The summer season is over, so the bars and all are closed, but the weather is still great, and I appreciate the peace and quiet. I think I'll stick around for awhile.


Additional photos below
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Old HousesOld Houses
Old Houses

Most of the streets look like this -- cobbled and flanked by old colorful houses.
Green, Red, and BlueGreen, Red, and Blue
Green, Red, and Blue

I thought the green one was fairly representative and well-preserved.
RoosterRooster
Rooster

There's a Turkish saying "her horoz kendi coplugunde oter" (lit. every rooster crows in his own dump). This rooster lost much of its arrogance when I came close enough to take its picture.


5th October 2004

Update on fishing experience
My fortunes are slowly changing... I caught 6 fish today. All small, around 10cm, but still fish, and I caught them. I threw them back after catching them so it's theoretically possible that I kept catching the same stupid fish over and over. :) A kid came over as I was catching my 6th and seemed like he knew what he was doing so I gave him my line and let him fish. He promptly got it caught in the rocks and the line snapped. He then convinced me to buy a different type of hook ([i]carpma[/i], I don't know what it's called in english) which works similar to a speargun: you yank on the line and end up punching a hole in the fish; the fish doesn't bite. Within 60 seconds of me buying it he caught a 35cm+ [i]zargana[/i] (small swordfish). Now, if I were a capitalist I would say the fish is mine since I supplied the capital; fortunately for the kid I believe in the sanctity of labor, so he got the fish. It's real windy so the line kept getting tangled so we gave up a bit later. I spent the rest of the afternoon watchaing the awesome sunset over the bay and behind the islands.
6th October 2004

harika
Sevgili Bedreddin, Gunluklerini cok keyif alarak okuyorum, devamini merakla bekliyorum. Her iki kulturden de tatmis bir insan olarak senin izlenimlerinin tadi bir baska oluyor. Sadece gezdigin yerleri degil seni de tanimis oluyoruz. Sevgiler, Selamlar, Ahmet - istanbul
21st October 2004

From a Greek
When I see this nice church getting transformed in a minaret I was thinking how our Turkish "friends" who want to join Europe would feel if they see the house in which Kemal Ataturk was borned, in Thessaloniki Greece, transformed to a Bar. I really do not undesrtand why Turks are always destroying the Greek culture. It is impossible to change history. Kidonies (Ayvalik) was for thousand years a Greek city until the Turks coming from Mongolia occupied it. By the way, I have also another question: In Ayvalik for thousand of years Greek Christians were burrying their deads in the town's cemeteries. What happened to them? Turks destroyed them as another gesture of civiliation? Otherwise can you please show just one picture of them? My grandmother is from Kidonies and her whole family was tortured to death from the newcomeres in Europe, Turks. Regards P.S. It is really a nice Greek Orthodox Church. Even without the cross and even if you add hundred of minares it will always be a church!
26th October 2004

to a Greek
first off, racism is ignorant and uncalled for. i don't know what you're trying to get at by saying turks came from mongolia and calling them "newcomers in [sic] europe"; i don't think there's anything shameful about mongolia nor being a "newcomer". information i've come across indicates that ayvalik (kidonies) was granted autonomy by the sultan, and no muslims were allowed to live in the city... that lasted until 1821 (greek war of independence) when apparently ayvalik sided with greece and got its privileges revoked. sounds like pretty good treatment to me. as for what you said about mosques and cemetaries... unfortunately i agree with you there. i think there's a conscious (official) effort to eradicate the history of anatolian peoples and instead engineer the myth of the "turkish national homeland". i truly hope it's just a fad that will soon end. speaking of ayvalik, the church on the facing island (not sure of the greek name) wasn't converted to a mosque and is now falling apart... so it's a tough call: see it converted to a mosque, or have it fall apart from disuse? of course, the root of the problem is the population exchange (in the late '20s), without which we wouldn't have to worry about empty greek churches. finally, i don't know if you personally know any turks, but i'd suggest you try to meet some. there are some bad apples (there always are), but i think you'll find it worth your while. i've met some really cool greeks and armenians (both of which are official "enemies").
30th October 2004

To a Greek
Fazla kasinma, kardak kayaliklarindan baslar Arnavutluk sinirina kadar heryeri aliriz ve her binaya(sadece kiliselere degil) minare ekleriz bu arada Arjantinliler Sicarken Zevk Aliyolarmis
26th June 2005

fair comment
Respond to a comment made in 1994 by a Greek person, it would be only fair to make my comment and hoping to be read by this particular moron or by any greek with the same mentality.Turkey has been home by many civilations for centuries not only for greeks and run by us for some hundreds of years.Longer than America and Australesia and so on changed to their existing name and up to thelate nineteentwentiees many greeks enjoyed the tolerance of our nations for HUNDREDS Of years unlike some continents didnt even bother showing the same respect to the cultural differences and if Iam not mistaken there isnt any native tasmanian left in Tasmania.Now as this goes on ,my answer to how I feel about converting Church to a Mosque is quite simple a lot better than converting to a Bar as you have done that in Cos island [Istankoy in Turkish]anybody would have seen this mosque is not mosque anymore A bar.So As we are proud of being Turkish we also proud of our tolerant past.
19th July 2005

Tolerance
Türkiye talks the talk, but does not walk the walk. Did the Turks show the same tolerance to the Armenians, or are they showing the same tolerance to the Kurds just yesterday, but of course tolerance must be shown today for a ticket entry into the EU. But will the Kurds get there homland...I think not if Türkiye still just talks the talk of talerance. Shall we just sweep under the Turkish Carpet the "Treaty of Sevres in 1920," which the Turkish powers that be at the time agreed to and signed. This same agreement stated that the Kurds can have there own home state if they wanted. The Kurds wanted, and the US Pres.Woodrow Wilson promised this to the Kurds. But Kemal Ataturk denied the Kurds there homeland by being tolerant and breaking the treaty. The Kurds deserve a homeland too just like our Jewish brothers and sisters were given one and also our Palistinian brothers and sisters deserve one too). As far as our Greek brothers and sisters are concerned, they have resided in those parts of the mediteranian and black sea as far as one can go. No diffrence than my nation/people in North America. I am not European or from the Middle East, I am Ojibwa from the Algonquian-Wakashan stock. It is easy for leaders to mislead there people (for an eg. Hitler, Sadam Hussien, and even Bush re: arms of mass distruction). Türkiye must and need to reconcile there past history. Like Deutschland and Nippon have done. My dear Turkish brothers and sisters, Turkyie is a very big country. Please do not deny our Kurdish brothers and sisters there homeland. And if Türkiye is still in denial, than Türkiye should go please sell crazy somewhere else.
11th August 2005

chips on some shoulder
I wonder why some people especially someone from far away would try to find his identity by criticising our nation without not knowing the reality of the history and the same history applies to all
15th September 2005

dear greek friend
could you explain why there is no (not even one) mosque in Athens? (ps. i dont define myself as muslim) about a related subject. hagia sophia was a church for 800 years. and it was used as a mosque for 500 years. Now we converted it to a museum. WHAT is WRONG about it? one more thing about EU. just look around. do you want another Iran-Iraq or Syria just the door next to you? Do u want us to join the Arabic union? or form a Turkish union? try to see the reality. Turkey is backing up your ass. And we are on the same side. I am really afraid for the humanity. (especially european friends)if EU blocks the membership. bedreddin the thing you are doing and the way you tell gives us the power to help this spinning poor world!
10th December 2005

You destroy my country
I am a 17 years old cypriot. I accidentally find this page on google and i read your text. I agree with the other greek man. You are not a part of europe. Geographically turkey is located in asia and only a small part (which was greek) is located in asia. Your culture has nothing to do with the europe 's culture. You are an ASIAN country and you have to admit it. In 1974 you invade without reason in Cyprus and conquer the half of the island. You kill cypriots you make mother's to cry, you raped young girls, you caught young men and kill them. Is this European culture? You kill the Armenian people without mersy. Is this Eyropean culture? Your cities are full of crime and misery.. Is this European culture? Some days ago i see in tv techers from turkey to hit little children or even kill them. After all that why you want to become Europeans? You are not deserve it!!! My country and all Greek people suffer from Turkish people amd some day you are going to pay for all the pain you cause!!
11th December 2005

To Giorgos, RE: "You Destroy My Country"
Dear Giorgos. I will put your ignorance and chauvenism down to your youth, but I'll respond to some of your (rather naive) statements because I have nothing better to do at the moment. You talk about "Europe's Culture". What do you mean in particular? The expulsion of Jews from Europe? The Inquisition? The still-rampant racism (what do you mean by "Asian"? Is one side of the Bosphorous morally "better" than the other?). Centuries of colonization, rape, and suppression of 3rd-World countries? The ghetto-like conditions in which minorities and immigrants *still* live in? Maybe if you delve deeper you'll see that "Europe's Culture" isn't all that to be proud of, nor is "Asia" a Bad Word. "Cities Full of Crime and Misery" you say... What about New York? Isn't that full of crime? Or London or Paris? And your allegation that teachers "kill little children" is simply ludicrous. As for teacher hitting little children... that's a historical and integral part of European Culture. I'm not proud of what the State has done to the Armenians, Greeks, and Kurds. And I'm not defending the actions of the State. But please don't come at me with ignorant adolescent racism.
18th January 2006

Goodwill
I think that Turkey, if it wishes to join the European Union and be accepted as a Tolerant and responsible nation, schould show some real Goodwill to her Minorities and their culture. The Turkish state should attempt, in a real effort, to not carry out any more anti minority policies or tolerate anti minority actions. It is a fact that the area of Turkey has got a huge non Turkish history, and if the Republic of Turkey is to deserve to be the guardian of all their treasures, it should protect them and treat them well, and come forward and publicly regret and accept the wrongs that it commited in the past and try to make reperations, and stop these things from re-occuring. Actions such as turning churches into mosques is a real cultural insensibility and can be considered a provocation, and cannot be part of our modern world. Turkey tends to retain its 'token' remains of other cultures but lets the rest decay or be demolished, since the human representatives of these cultures were evicted, or worse, murdered, by the Turkish state. Turkey should show that it can do better.
1st February 2006

Turkey belongs to Turks
I think some people find really hard to realise that this country called Turkey and belongs to us for centuries and we will fight to keep it for centuries to come.Now, any minorities or any other nationalities who lives in this country are welcome to live with us under Turkish Flag as long as they respect and contribute to this country.So many example of good citizens from different background have no problems with us and they are quite happy to pronounce themselves as Turkish citizens.Like in many counries we have people who dont like our ways,this is ok.we believe in tolerance but there are some wants to stab us from our back,since the unfair treaty of sevres,to this days Iam afraid the only answer to this people and the ones who provokes them is you just wasting your time and my time of course,like i said TURKEY BELONGS TO TURKS understand....
19th July 2007

Greco Armenian hostility
Bedrettin, my friend, you have opened Pandora's box here. Our Greek and Armenian adversaries are itching to take their revenge. No wonder, they have been brainwashed in their churches at Sunday schools for nearly 80 years. It is time they accept they are not the "chosen people". They do not have a special place in the world. They, like us, have to suffer once in a while and shut up. There comes a time in history when strong displaces weak. Yanks displaced Indians in North America, Spanish displaced Aztecs in Mexico, Spanish and Portugese displaced Incas and other natives in South America, Spaniards displaced Moors in Iberia, British displaced Aboriginies in Australia and Maoris in New Zealand. The list goes on and on............. As the saying goes: "mal sahibi, mulk sahibi.... nerede bunun ilk sahibi?" In the end, Turks displaced Greeks in Anatolia. There is nothing strange about that. Are Yanks, British, Spanish, Portugese going to leave the lands they conquered from natives? .. Definitely not... Same with us. So my suggestion to our Greco Armenian opponents: Chill out and forget living in the past... look at the future.. Yilmaz
6th December 2007

What future???
And which is the future you are looking at my friend??? To shell all the greek houses you took by force to tourists??? Houses that people left all their belongings there because they left in just one night... Is this the future you dreamed for? In my country we say... don''t do what you don't like the others to do to you... In this life is Paradise in this life is also Hell...
29th April 2008

which tolerance?
Turks like to believe that the Ottoman Empire was a tolerant state but if it was so, Hagia Sophia wouldn't be surrounded by four minarets! Neither most mosques would have been formerly churches! On the contrary, they would have remained as churches and continued to be used by the Christians, at least during the ottoman times. Moreover if ottoman state was a tolerant one, today, there wouldn't exist so many Turkish people with European, Mediterranean characteristics, since Turks are an Ural-Altaic group of people, which is a Mongolic branch (and there's nothing bad about it). I refer to all these Turks who descend from local Christians, who were forced to convert to Islam with one or another way, during the long ottoman rule. Have you ever asked yourselves about it? And don't tell me that those Christians had converted to Islam because of …inner spiritual search! What is sure, is that nobody - and certainly not the invaders Turks- can accuse the Greeks of demolishing minarets. By the way, shall you know that we haven't demolish all minarets or mosques, there are still quite a lot of them in Greece, most of them used as museums or just standing with no making any use of them. On the contrary in Turkey, lots of them were used as places for animals or storehouses. In the occupied, by Turkey, area of Cyprus, a place that doesn’t belong to invader Turkey according to United Nations Resolutions, turkish army “allowed” churches to be used as dancing schools and monasteries as hotels (sic)! Greeks were attacked in their own land, been killed, been raped, everything in their country has been looted, they ‘ve been kicked out of their homes and had to endure less or more cruel conquerors for centuries. When Greeks finally gained their freedom and independence (and I HOPE THAT WE ALL AGREE THAT EVERY NATION HAS THE RIGHT TO BE INDEPENDENT AND THE RIGHT TO SELF-DETERMINATION), they had every right to decrease the "souvenirs" of the foreign invaders, who had taken advantage of them for centuries, in order to make a fortune and a name for themselves! After all, Turks could have stayed in their own homeland, nobody asked them to come here and then we would have been the best of friends! But since they came, they should respect what they have found on this land and have no demands from the indigenous people! We can’t treat the perpetrator and the victim the same way! There is something the Turks have to learn : nobody has to respect a bad, undemocratic state, a fascist one. The Greeks had no reason to respect the ottoman state and the violent invaders. Christians in the ottoman empire were treated as inferior people, they paid much heavier taxes than the Muslims, they weren’t allowed to carry guns, they were sold as slaves and women were taken to muslims’ harems. The famous “privileges” given by Mohamed the Conqueror were given just because the Sultans and the whole empire needed people to work and muslim invaders – a nomad warrior tribe- didn’t know how to do it, and if all Christians had converted to Islam immediately, everything would have been paralysed!Even if Mohamed the Conqueror had the best of intentions, Muslim administration all over the empire didn’t share the same opinion about the Christians and their behaviour couldn’t be checked easily from the Sultan! Only in the last century, after serious military defeats of the ottoman army and economical decrease, non-Muslims were given more freedom, since the Sultans needed someone to save the empire! So Greeks, owed to revolt against an undemocratic and deeply racist state as the ottoman one, for the sake of everybody!
5th September 2009

"NO MORE"
"No More"...This is what I am titling this article. "No more"...stands for frustration on the part of the Turks across the world who are fed up with Greek propoganda and Greek bias. "No more" also stands for the heart and soul of the Turks, who, as a collective whole, have had enough of the BIASED ULTRA ORTHODOX GREEK stance and way of life. With that said...let me begin. "No More" No more talks and conversations about the "Great Greeks". No more talks and rumors about the restoration of the GREAT Church of Hagia Sophia. No more dreams about a unified Eastern Alliance of Christ against the "War Mongering and Barbaric Turks". No more toleration for talks about a Eastern Ultra Orthodox Patriarchy. No more time!! The time that we have mismanaged and wasted toward the development of friendly relations with an ULTRA ORTHODOX CHURCH and ULTRA ORTHODOX NATION STATE which in no rational way wants to coexist as neutral neighbors. No more equal grounds and diplomatic relations. No more care towards the SO CALLED FAIR AND JUST EASTERN SPIRIT OF CHRIST. As our Christian neighbors believe, time is always on the sides of those who take pride and care in each and every step of life. We Turks have an abundance of time to spare to undo the far too lethargic stance that we have taken on "GREEK" and "EASTERN ORTHODOX" relations. We have taken a relaxed stance on far too many topics. Our needs, our wants, our desires, our passions, and our pride have all been adulterated by our "Diplomatic" Christian counterparts. Each and every Turk is a direct descendant of Ishmael and the image of God. We breathe his air, drink his water, eat his fruit, and protect his land. Turkiye is his homeland and our pride. Turkiye is his mother and our holy spirit. Turkiye is our blood. Turkiye is our light. Turkiye is our air. Turkiye is our water. Turkiye is our path to nurishment. Please do not be mistaken! ISLAM IS AND WILL ALWAYS BE THE FATHER OF TURKIYE...and WILL NOT be COMPROMISED. Turkiye is our home and WILL NOT be DESECRATED. To those who are deserving, we will smile, wave, lend a hand, give aid and judge with pain staking care. What we will not do, is allow any friend or foe to enter our space and attempt to corrupt our way of life. For those who hold claims against our land and space, understand that YOUR NEEDS WILL NOT BE MET. Each and every nanometer of soil in our motherland is protected by the spirit of Ishmael. The God of Ismael is on our side. You must be wondering what would make a man think such thoughts. The answer is quite clear. Our "GREEK BROTHERS" have overstayed their welcome. They mock Turkiye, Islam and Judaism. They desecrate Ishmael and his children with their prayers for the spread of an unyielding and all encompassing ULTRA ORTHODOX CHRISTIANITY. They "PRETEND" to be companions while bickering and planning for the expulsion of TURKIYE and her children to the barren lands of Central Asia. They are evil. They are unjust. They do not represent Christ's love and compassion for all of Abraham's children. With all of its claims to unwarranted lands, unwarranted people, and unwarranted resources I FIND IT SAFE TO SAY THAT ULTRA ORTHODOX CHRISTIANITY IS NOTHING SHORT OF MODERN DAY NAZISM. I holds the characteristics of the NAZIS who also place unwarranted claims against OUR JEWISH BRETHREN. FOR ALL OF THOSE SOULS WHO DO NOT UNDERSTAND...PLEASE READ CLEARLY. JUDAISM IS ALIVE IN TURKIYE. ISLAM IS THE FULFILLMENT OF JUDAISM. ISLAM AND THE SPIRIT OF JUDEAH WILL PROTECT TURKIYE FROM THE CORRUPTED AND UNYIELDING EASTERN PATRIARCH. PLEASE KEEP YOUR CLAIMS WHERE THEY BELONG. YOU DO NOT HOLD RIGHTS TO CLAIM TURKIYE'S AIR, WATER, NOR SOIL.
31st December 2009

Aphrodite of Cyprus is Greek
The honest truth there are no Turkish Cypriots. Turkish Cypriots were Greek Catholics forced by the Barbarian Turkish invaders to convert to Islam or be killed. Therefore, Turkey has no rights on this Greek island, Cyprus. The sooner they realize this the sooner there will be peace not only on this Greek island but the rest of the world. Death the evil Turkish empire.
31st December 2009

Aphrodite of Cyprus is Greek
The comment No Greeks here is disgusting!!!!! What happened to the Greeks of Anatolia? Yes, genocide!!!!! The barbaric Turks forced them off their land. If they refused the were slaughtered!!!! We Greeks were not the only ones who were ethnically cleansed. The Armenians, Assyrians, the Georgians and the Kurds all faced Turkish barbarism. We know how much blood Turks have on their hands. Even their Quran says if you steal your hands must be cut off. Well, every Turk should have not only their hands but feet as well cut off for the highway robbery of stealing our lands. Curse the Turkish Barbarian government. All Turks have the obligation to return our lands and return to their homeland in Turkmenistan.
30th January 2011

When will Turks return home to Turkmenistan?
Why is it important for the evil Turkish government to destroy everyone's country? Turks have the right to live their lives in their own land: Turkmenistan. The have absolutely no rights on Cyprus, Greece, Aegean, Greece, Anatolia, Greece, Armenia, Assyria, Georgia, Kurdistan and Germany. When will they stop dreaming of conquering the world and return home? The Jewish people return to their home after 2000 years. What is 300 years? The Turks of Turkmenistan want all the Turks to return and live together as one. This is the only just solution for everyone consider. Don't you agree. No more blood and death just the return of Turkish people to their homeland, Turkmenistan.
21st July 2011

Freedom from Tyranny
Turks have no rights to Asia Minor or the Greek island of Cyprus. I just read the Anti-Christ will be a Turk. The "true" God will destroy him and the false prophet Mohammad. Then the world will see true peace. Zito to Ethos!

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