This time, we shall describe how Assos, which is one of the most visited places in Çanakkale for its history, culture and eco-tourism, looks from the eyes of a professional. Is it history, nature, the sea or all in one?
Generally, Çanakkale visits are listed as the battlefields, followed by Troy and Assos. While the first two contain a little more history and culture, Assos generally includes a long-term hotel stay as well as mental and physical relaxation. When you look at internet searches lately, it is quite normal for the ancient city to be at the top of the list for online searches.
Location of Assos
When we reach the town of Ayvacık at the 70th kilometer of the Çanakkale – İzmir highway, Assos (Behramkale) often appears on the brown signs. However, we still have a distance of 19 km ahead of us. Watchful eyes see a statue at the entrance of Ayvacık. The person in this statue is Barbaros Hayrettin, who was born on the island of Midilli (Lesbos), which we shall encounter when we arrive in Assos, and who would later become the admiral of Ottoman Navy, who traded between Ayvacık and Midilli (Lesbos).
As we slowly approach the ancient city, the image of Midilli (Lesbos) Island welcomes us, with the image of Assos on a sharp hill in front of it. When we enter the parking lot of Behramkale Village, which still continues to live with an ancient settlement, our eyes are drawn to the Acropolis. The distance to walk is a little long, but this tremendous walk in the village disable the length of the distance.
History of Assos
The history of the city of Assos of course goes back to ancient times. But the part that usually attracts attention for visitors is the part that is 2.500 years old and up to the present day, perhaps because of the visuality it provides. The city first fell under the rule of the Lydians and then the Persians (548 BC), who put an end to them. The city had the Persian influence until 387 BC. Meanwhile, a banker named Eubolos declares himself the King of Assos and takes over the administration.
Aristotle; the brother-in-law of Assos is coming to the city
Then Hermesias takes over. In his youth, he studied at Plato’s school in Athens, made Aristotle and other famous friends there, and invited these friends to Assos. Aristotle accepts this invitation. However, he has one condition: to marry Hermsias’ sister, Pythia. That’s why we can say that Aristotle is the brother-in-law of Assos.
Aristotle lived in Assos between 348-345 BC. During this time, he founded one of the first philosophy schools in Anatolia. However, Hermesias lost power in 345 BC and was was captured by The Persian commander Memnon of Rhodes and crucified in Persepolis. The city falls under Persian rule again. Meanwhile, Philip II, who is looking for a good educator for Alexander the Great, who is about 11 years old, finds what he is looking for and invites Aristotle to Macedonia.
This is how Aristotle leaves Assos. After the death of Alexander the Great, the city came under the control of the Pergamon Kingdom. After Attalos III, the king of Pergamon left his kingdom to Rome, the city came under Roman rule and developed significantly.
St. Paulus in Assos
This city, which became a bishopric center especially during the Byzantine period, was one of the places mentioned during Saint Paul’s visits to the Troas Region. He went to Neapolis from Alexandria Troas in his first visit in 52-53 AD, and on his second visit, he sent his companions from Alexandria Troas to Assos by ship. He himself came to Assos with a walk of about 33 km, met with the others and went to Lesbos by ship. During these periods of Christianity, most of the Pagan structures were damaged.
Ottoman domination began with the Seljuk domination and then the Karesi Principality selling this part of its lands to the Ottoman State.
While looking at the perfect view from the Acropolis to Edremit Bay, this historical process comes to mind at first.
In 2017, it was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List due to the role and value it played in this historical process.
Although the name Assos is known more today, it is actually the Behramkale Village of Ayvacık district.
This Behramkale Village, which has been in existence for about 600 years, actually bears the traces of the Turkmen population that was placed in the environment in order to balance the population of the region. However, this period of time has caused the city to keep up with the times and soften some of his traditions and customs.
Village residents who try to sell their handicrafts to you with their colorful dresses as soon as you get off your car, say, “Welcome!” first. It’s simple products they’re trying to sell, but it’s handcrafted, unique and valuable.
When you approach the region, you will see many names such as Kadırga (Galley), Kadırga Bay and Tahtacılar (Wooden town). These people, who had served in the construction of the Ottoman Empire’s navy, were extremely good at wood carving. We can see the most important traces of this Turkmen culture in the surrounding villages. They are the people you can see while weaving carpets in the fields in summer and in their homes in winter. Unfortunately, these cultures are in danger of extinction.
As we continue walking, we realize that the houses seen on the right and left are made from recycled parts of ancient city ruins. In addition to the ancient ruins, you will also notice that the building material of the stone houses in the village is andesite, as it was thousands of years ago.
The road with trade benches on the sides takes you to the village square. For a respite, the village coffee here are perfect. Depending on the season, verjuice, black mulberry juice and coffee you can always find will help you get the remaining distance to the Acropolis.
After a short rest, we continue on the road and the road brings us to the entrance of the Acropolis. The first thing that draws our attention here is the Hüdavendigar Mosque on the left of the entrance. It usually does not attract many visitors, but there is a lot of detail for the careful eye to see.
This mosque, which dates back to the Murat I (nicknamed Hüdavendigâr – the devotee of God in Persian) period, does not have a minaret. Sometimes it is strange, “Is there a mosque without a minaret?” saying. However, we should remember that the one who makes a mosque should not have a minaret, but a pulpit necessary for Friday prayers. The hill, dominated by this single-domed structure, leans to the north of the ancient city.
When you look down from the courtyard of the mosque, you can see the Hüdavendigar Bridge, which is called the same name as the mosque and was built in the same years, on the Tuzla (Satnieois) Stream.
Hüdavendigar Mosque has seen many restorations at various times. When you look at the mosque, this is immediately noticeable. There are additions that do not fit well with the basic architectural material of the building. For example, columns, marble pieces belonging to other buildings, the inscriptions on the marble arch around the entrance door and small broken cross signs immediately attract attention.
When you walk inside, there are galley drawings engraved on the walls. These may be the traces left by the “Levends” soldiers of Ottoman Navy, who came here to emphasize that they were galleys. All these traces are details that we are not used to seeing in a mosque.
Acropolis, Temple of Athena and Other Buildings
When we pass the the entrance of the site, the huge towers that were built in the Byzantine period and surround the castle welcome us. On the left side of the entrance, there are cisterns that served the local people until the 1950s. These cisterns, where only the water flowing from the roofs of the buildings are stored, are important structures that meet the water needs of the inner castle.
We are now in the Acropolis section, where the physically disabled, slaves and pregnant women were not allowed to enter. When you walk a little more, the sea begins to appear. It starts to become clear that you are at an altitude of about 236 meters. Although the area of the acropolis is small, we must remember that this is the highest point of the city and other parts of the city are on the slopes.
We can briefly list the city from top to bottom as the Acropolis, the lower city, the agora, the theatre, the ancient port. Today, only in Assos, only the Acropolis visit is completed in about an hour. For this reason, for an interested and curious group of visitors, it may take half a day to visit all the ruins.
Temple of Athena
The most striking structure in the acropolis is the Temple of Athena in the part of the inner castle during the Byzantine period. Only 5-6 columns have survived from this structure, which should have had 36 columns. It is in the Doric style, which does not have much detail on the architectural texture and is generally used to be seen in the Greece.
Parts of the temple are scattered in many museums such as the Istanbul Archaeological Museum, the Troy Museum, and the Boston Museum.
The model of the temple in the acropolis gives us an idea of what the temple looked like at the time. Looking down to the right of the model of the Temple of Athena, the West Gate and the Necropolis section can be seen.
There are burial types belonging to many different civilizations here. The sarcophagi are particularly noteworthy. These sarcophagi made of this rock, called “meat eater”, which allow corpses to decompose in a much shorter time than normal when placed in them, have been an important export product for the ancient city.
In the coming period, visits will start from the West Gate. Necropolis, the Byzantine period inn next to the West Gate, residences, bouleterion, gymnasium, theater, churches can be visited by visiting the Acropolis and Athena Temple. Final arrangements of this route are being made.
Watchful eyes notice one more thing. Next to the model of the Temple of Athena, when you look at the stone block on the left side of Lesbos Island, a gladiator drawing catches the eye. You need sunlight and afternoon to see it.
Assos Ancient City Excavation Committee Head Prof. Dr. Nurettin Arslan said that gladiator and wild animal fights were held 3 or 4 times in the ancient theater. It is not more than 3-4 times, because it was a very expensive organization, so there was no chance for it to be done all the time. However, it is possible to see concrete additions to the 5 thousand-seat theater, showing that this place was prepared for gladiator fights. This gladiator drawing is proof of that.
While these are on the ancient city peaks, there is another Assos at sea level. This is the Assos of a slightly more recent history. When you follow the ancient port sign through the village, you will come to the car park opposite the excavation houses after a little adrenaline-filled journey with your car, accompanied by the ancient city on your left, Edremit Bay and Midilli (Lesbos) Island on your right, on a narrow curved road.
These buildings, which were used as warehouses in the past, now serve as restaurants and hotels. It is one of the two harbors and the ancient harbor is in the bay on the left. In ancient sources, “If God wants to punish someone, he sends him from the port of Assos to Acropolis.” he wrote. Really, considering the distance, there couldn’t have been a more appropriate punishment.
You can easily see the view of the harbor and the height of the Acropolis by walking on the breakwater. The port is one of the best places to rest after visiting the ancient city and of course to end the day.
Don’t Return Without Making it in Assos
- Watch the sunset on the Acropolis.
- Tour the ancient city with a professional tour guide.
- Taste the berry juice, black mulberry juice or mastic coffee in the village coffee.
- Shop from local people.
- Swim at the blue flag beach.
- Eat fish in the ancient port and taste natural ice creams.
How marvelous isn’t it? You can experience many of these sites during your Turkey visit by Traveller’s Route. Please check our Turkey tours below, and please let us know for your any requests via [email protected] OR via WhatsApp +90 507 348 32 22.