Secreted high in the inland hills among wild orchards and rolling groves, ?irince is a scenic little village dotted with a dollhouse collection of stone and stucco houses. The area was probably settled when Ephesus was abandoned, but what you see today mostly dates from the 19th century. The story goes that a group of freed Greek slaves moved here in the 15th century and called the village Çirkince (Ugliness) to deter others from following. The name was changed to the more honest ?irince (Pleasantness) in the 1920s during the founding of the new republic.
Before Atatürk’s republic, ?irince was a larger town inhabited by Ottoman Greeks. The current villagers, who moved here from Salonica during an exchange of populations in 1924, are ardent fruit farmers who also make and sell an interesting assortment of wines (TL10 to TL20). Flavours range from raspberry and peach to the trendier black mulberry and pomegranate.
?irince is by no means the ‘undiscovered gem’ as usually marketed in other guidebooks. In fact, it’s the village’s widely known reputation for authenticity that has marked the start of its demise. During the day, souvenir shops run the entire length of the main street as vendors try to lure you in using a smattering of catcalls in different languages. Visitors who ignore this and stay the night (at a stiff premium, of course) will be well rewarded with the chance to see the real village after the tour buses have gone.
Sights & Activities
If you’re trying to avoid the crowds then it’s best to visit in the evening when the droves of daytrippers have long retreated from the mountains 3pm is about the busiest time of day. ?irince’s charm lies in its subtleties, so your time is best spent simply ambling around the crooked cobbled lanes and admiring the adorable architecture.
The ruined Church of St John the Baptist ( 8am-8pm summer, 8.30am-6.30pm winter) is of limited interest. Faded frescoes adorn the walls, which date back to Byzantine times. Funds are scarce, so restorations have yet to turn the space into more than a sanctuary for cawing birds.
?irince is a captive market, and room rates can be ludicrously inflated for what you get.
These days almost every house on the village’s main street has been transformed into a storefront selling a variety of local wares, namely fruit wine. Ask to sample your wine of choice before making the purchase it’s not everyone’s cup of tea some of the flavours taste a bit too much like cough syrup. Other shops sell olive oil, soaps and leather goods, usually crafted locally (it’s best to ask). It’s worth stopping by Demetrius of Ephesus (?irince Köyü 26) , a local artisan who crafted most of the jewellery and trinkets for the movie Troy you’ll know you’re in the right place when you see the photo of Brad Pitt hanging above the cash register.