The ancient city of Ephesus is one of the most visited attractions of Turkey. People even fly from Istanbul to see it in a day. When I hear about their fleeting visit, I cringe because while Ephesus is impressive, many more attractions exist in the surrounding areas including the basilica of Saint John and exploration of the working town of Selcuk. I recommend at least a 2-night stay in the area, in particular though to visit the wine-making village of Sirince.
The History of Sirince:
Historians cannot confirm the exact date, when this small and quaint village was founded. They do suspect that freed or escaped slaves from Ephesus were its first citizens and they named the village “ugly” to prevent interest from outsiders.
When the Turkish Republic was founded in 1923, it was renamed Sirince but by this stage the Greek citizens had left because of the population exchange treaty. Returning Turkish residents from Greece discovered the condition of the soil and warm weather climate was ideal for fruit farming. One thing led to another and before long, they also became expert winemakers.
Thanks to its remote location in the hills of Selcuk, not many foreign visitors went to Sirince but this changed with the introduction of the Internet. Now it is a popular daytrip from resorts of the Aegean coast, or indeed at the same time as visiting Ephesus.
What to Do in Sirince:
Booking in overnight at one of the small pensions selling B&B accommodation, is a surreal experience. Locals have strongly adhered to their traditional roots and this is reflected in the architecture of the houses, food served in restaurants and the amazing green landscape views of the surrounding mountains.
Start the morning by wandering the steep and cobbled streets to find locals tending their vegetable patches, women cleaning their courtyards or kids selling locally produced olive oil and handmade cotton goods.
One walled courtyard holds the entrance to the old Greek Church that in previous years received funding for its restoration. Local traditions say to throw a coin in the courtyard fountain containing a statue of the Virgin Mary and your wish will come true.
The morning’s exploration is tastefully finished with a traditional Turkish lunch in a local restaurant. Food includes mezes (appetizers), soups and grilled meats, which is all designed to fill the stomach, ready for an afternoon of wine tasting.
The Wines of Sirince:
While Sirince has sometimes been compared to Tuscany, it is important for visitors not to assume they produce typical wines. More than 92 varieties exist including the strange tastes of Kiwi, raspberry, melon and pomegranate.
The emphasis of Sirince wine is purely on the sweetness of the fruit and not everyone warms to the taste, often comparing it to sweet undiluted cordial. Having said that, an afternoon, spent touring the wine-shops and indulging in tasting is good fun, whether you are a solo traveller or with a group of friends.
If your luggage allowance is sparse, buy a bottle or two to take back to your hotel otherwise, relax in a restaurant with canapés and a glass of traditional Sirince wine while admiring the landscape view.[shareaholic app="share_buttons" id="14877614"]
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