Kültür Rotaları
Cultural Routes
Parcours Culturels

Legends-Spiritual Heritage

Walks and Photos
Ayvalık - Ayvalik - Aivali


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Damien Dessane

Damien is born in 1978 in the suburbs of Paris. He traveled and lived in many countries with diverse cultures and spiritualities.

Researching local History and Mythologies, he appreciates the connections between legends and realities.

Adept of philosophical question, he organizes cafe-philo with adults and Philosophy For Children workshops.

Living in one of the world most culturally contrasted region, namely the Aegean archipelago, local tales and tradition keeps on fueling his curiosity.

He wrote 3 books about the city and surroundings:

-Kydonia/Ayvalık Academy (1803-1821): Education for the new Miletus (2020)

-The secrets of Ayvalık Taxiarchis, with Jared Raker) (2021)

-Aeolia: 8 legends (2022) 



7 walking tours in the old city:

  1. Contaxis Postcards (1900) - 2h

  2. Atatürk’s Visit to Ayvalık (13th of April 1934) – 1h

  3. The Secret River (Potamos) - 1h30

  4. Ayazma - Macaron Neighborhood - 1h30

  5. Old Windmills - 1h30

  6. Panoramic Walk - 1h

  7. Thursday Market Visit – 1h

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Ayvalık formerly named Kydonia was almost exclusively Greek Orthodox (Rums) city during the 18, 19, and beginning of the 20th century. Recognized as an important commercial place (called the Oriental Boston), an education center (called the little Miletus in the 19th century) and a spiritual place (11 churches in the old town, 12 monasteries mostly on islands and more than 65 holy places).

The bi-centennial old town of Ayvalık currently applies to be on the list UNESCO World Heritage Site for its olive processing buildings’ distinctive architecture. The city hosted famous painters such as Photis Kontoğlou, Orhan Peker, Buhran Uygur and still has a vibrant art community. After 1923, settlers from Bosnia, Lesbos, and Crete brought their gastronomies that can be tasted in the many restaurants in Küçükköy, Cunda and Ayvalık city center.


On the Aegean Sea coast, the place harbors the largest natural park in Turkey: ‘Ayvalık Islands Nature Park’ covers 180 km2, among which 40 km2 of land on a peninsula and 22 islands. The region is mostly planted of olive groves, more than 2 million olive trees and the hills of Kozak are famous for their pine nuts plantation. Wild herbs growing naturally in olive groves and pastures are used in local recipes such as böreks together with a local cheese similar to ricotta: lor, which is also used for a delicious dessert: lor tatlısı.

 Ayvalik is a volcanic region; you can notice a diversity of soil and stone colors. The famous local stone called Sarimsak is pink-purple sandstone used on many façades of the town’s buildings for its decorative quality. The street pavements come from the granite of neighboring Kozak hills. In the colder months of the year, the region is a breeding ground for pink flamingoes (Phoenicopterus roseus).


6 Natural/Spiritual treks in Ayvalık Islands Nature Park:

  1. Badavut salt marsh and beach – 45min transport, 1h trek

  2. Agia Paraskevi abbey/tımarhane – 45min transport, 2h trek

  3. Eğri Bucak, the first settlements- 30 min transport, 2h trek

  4. Taxiarchis monastery in the pine forest – 30min transport, 1h30 trek

  5. Agios Dimitrios ta Selina and beach – 1h transport, 2h trek

  6. 13th century Genovese tower of Pyrgos and beach – 1h transport, 3h trek

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