The Sea of Marmara and the North Aegean: Places to Explore


The Mount Ida Region (Kaz Dağları)

The area above the Gulf of Edremit is known as Kaz Dağları in Turkish, but to the Greeks it was Mount Ida, home of ancient gods and goddesses. It was here that Paris, son of King Priam of Troy, was given the fateful task of judging the beauty of three goddesses. He chose Aphrodite, the goddess of love, which ultimately caused the Trojan War.

The Turks have made their own contribution to the region's mythology. Famous for their skilled woodwork, they migrated here at the request of Mehmet the Conqueror in the 15th century to cut and process wood for the new ships needed to expand Mehmet's navy, and these ships were crucial to the conquest of Istanbul.

The 34-km (21-mi) coastal stretch between Küçükkuyu and Edremit is essentially a concrete mess, crammed with holiday homes, and for anyone who doesn't own one, it has little to offer. The mountain area above the coast, however, is a completely different story. Pine trees cover its higher slopes, with olive trees predominating lower down. Delightful unspoiled villages are scattered over the hills; most have managed to keep their original character, with houses made of local stone, narrow cobbled streets, and wide squares in the center, a part of which is usually taken up by the kahvehane or coffeehouse, the heart of village life. Hiking here will take your breath away it's so beautiful. Above the villages is Kaz Dağları National Park.

Farther east are less prettified villages, some Turkish and some originally Greek, like Çamlıbel, a good base for more ambitious walks.

Both Tahtakuşlar and Çamlıbel are about 2 km (1 mi) inland from the coast road near Güre, a hot-spring bath resort.

For those who can't do without the sea, it's nearby, and it's beautiful. The coast between Küçükkuyu and Edremit is highly developed, but between Küçükkuyu and Assos lies one of Turkey's most delightful swimming seas, and it's clean, calm, and refreshing. Most of the good village hotels have their own private beach somewhere on this route. Alternatively, since the whole of the coast is a protected area, you can park your car among the olive trees almost anywhere along the coast road and jump in—there may not be a sandy beach, but you might feel like you're the first to swim in that exact spot. If you'd rather have the sand, Kadırga Beach is on the same coast closer to Assos.

The Mount Ida Region (Kaz Dağları) at a Glance

Sports and Outdoors