Şirince Village (Turkish: Şirince Köyü) in Selçuk, İzmir Province, Türkiye (Turkey) has been selected as one of the “2023 World’s Best Tourism Villages” by the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO). Şirince is one of the most attractive cities on Turkey’s beautiful Aegean coast, an oasis known for its nature, history, culture and gastronomy.
In fact, the name of the village used to be “Kırkınca”. When the Greeks started to call it Kirkince and the Turks started to call it Çirkince instead of the Greeks after the exchange, the name of the village was finally Çirkince. Finally, the village, which is the opposite of ugly, started to be called Şirince.
Why Şirince is the World’s Best Tourism Villages?
As a small village with an old-fashioned atmosphere, Sirince has passed on its centuries-old history to the present day. A winding mountain road leads to the village at an altitude of 350 metres. Here, visitors will see orange, fig and olive trees, hear birds singing, and people keeping cute dogs and cats.
The houses in Şirince village built into the hillside, each designed to maximise the views and capture the natural light, surrounded by fruit trees and are surrounded by olive groves and vineyards. These crops have provided the community with an economic source for centuries and have shaped the way of life here.
In addition to its natural beauty, Şirince is also known for its sweet fruit wines made from locally produced fruit. As a result, more and more tourists are choosing to spend peaceful weekends away from the city in here. Many of the village’s stone villas have been converted into cosy boutique hotels where guests can relax by the fireplace. Meanwhile, restaurants serving Aegean-style cuisine and the delicious fruit wines have made the area a popular destination for tourists. For this reason, Şirince is rightly included in UNWTO’s 2023 World’s Best Tourism Villages list.
From a region at the heart of world civilisation…
Located in one of the most beautiful regions of the world, Şirince offers visitors easy access to several impressive ancient sites. Located in Selçuk, Izmir, this lovely village has been named on Lonely Planet’s “Best Places to Visit in 2024” list and is surrounded by several UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Şirince is only 8 km from Selçuk, where the ruins of the Temple of Artemis, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, are located, and 12 km from the ancient city of Ephesus, one of the most important centres of antiquity, which has been inhabited from prehistoric times to the Hellenistic, Roman, Eastern Roman, Principality and Ottoman periods, for about 9,000 years.
…To prophecy of the Mayans
As you may remember, in 2012, the whole world was agitated with rumours that the day of judgement would come on 21 December according to the calendar of the Mayans – a civilisation of BC, who had advanced knowledge in astronomy according to their time. The group that interpreted the Mayan calendar and called themselves the “Blue Energy Group” claimed that only two places in the world would be saved when the apocalypse came: Şirince in İzmir and Bugarach Village in the south of France.
These rumours dropped like a bomb on the agenda of both Turkey and the world. Among the rumours, there was news that even Tom Cruise from the Scientology sect would come to Şirince on 21 December. Şirince was at the top of the search engines at that time 🙂
Although the Mayans were wrong, all this fanfare has been a great opportunity for Şirince tourism. Whether you are looking for businesses that prepare doomsday menus that start with heaven soup and continue with doomsday kebab and close with forbidden apple dessert and last brew tea, or those who organise doomsday-themed events…
Of course, this intense interest in Şirince did not last long. Even afterwards, it turned out that the occupancy on 21 December was below the expectations of the businesses, and that the hotels were filled with press members rather than tourists :)))
Tradition in Şirince: olive and grape harvesting
Situated on the fertile soil of the Aegean Sea, Şirince has maintained its original character. Life in the village today is just as it was in the past: the locals still plough and the sheep graze. The villagers make jam and wine from the fruits of their gardens. The village brook still provides drinking water, as it has done for centuries.
Meanwhile, the growing popularity of Şirince has opened up wider commercial opportunities for the locals, who now sell many of their products to city tourists from quaint stalls in the narrow streets of the village. Homemade jams, sherbets and fruit wines, as well as handicrafts and souvenirs in the style of the Aegean countryside are highly sought after by tourists.
The mild climate of Şirince adds to its charm. In spring, nature comes back to life and transforms the village into a green paradise, while autumn brings a different rhythm to the region. The bells of the harvest ring out, heralding a busy period for olive groves and wineries.
Wine is vital to the social life of the region, as it sustains and preserves the rich history and cultural heritage of the village. Winter is a quieter season, when visitors can relax by the fireplace and savour the Aegean flavour and mulled wine.
Places to visit in Şirince village
The streets of the Village
The village bazaar in the centre where all kinds of homemade soaps, handicrafts, olive oil products are sold, wineries and historical Greek houses on the cobbled streets are must-see places. The view of the village from the Hodri Meydan Tower in the north of the village is also wonderful.
⛪ St. John the Baptist Church
The Church of St John the Baptist on the south side of the village was opened to visitors not long ago. It is not known exactly how far back the history of the church goes, but we know that it was rebuilt in 1805 to its current appearance. The church also has a small wine cellar. You can also taste wine here.
- Map: 35920 Selçuk/İzmir
The Theatre Madrasah is conceived as a gathering place for both amateur and professional theatre artists, a place to come to research, work and rest in the performing arts, and a real meeting place where audiences and artists can come together to meet and discuss. Its architect is Sevan Nişanyan. Workshops, summer camps, theatre camps, panels and conferences are held here.
If you ask what you can do here, it is not a place to visit for tourism purposes, but you can go to watch the performances that take place here. It becomes clear during the day whether something will be exhibited or not, so follow the social media accounts on the day you go.
They also organise a festival called MonoFest, there are one-man shows. If you are in Şirince in August, be sure to check it out.
Nesin Mathematics Village
On the land right next to the Theatre Madrasah is the famous Nesin Mathematics Village (Turkish: Nesin Matematik Köyü). This is a utopian learning space that takes mathematics out of the classroom and puts it into life, where professors and students live together and have a say in the management of the place, quietly, in touch with nature, and not for profit.
The adventure started with Aziz Nesin’s will to establish a Mathematics Institute, and continued with Sevan Nişanyan and Ali Nesin’s renovation of an olive grove in Şirince in 3 months. The result is an academic camp that operates entirely on a voluntary basis and is attended by world-renowned professors.
>> This place is not a place to be visited for tourism purposes. They accept visitors, but it is not preferred in order not to dilute the atmosphere.
The shop that made the jewellery of the Troy film
There is a shop called Demetrius of Ephesus in the bazaar of Şirince and the owner Sedat Kantaroğlu made the Hellenistic jewellery you see in the film Troy starring Brad Pitt! The film crew, who came to Turkey to do research for the film, offered him to design jewellery for the film when they visited the exhibition he opened in Selçuk Museum and liked his work.
In his shop, there are souvenirs of many celebrities from Brad Pitt’s autographed photo to the book signed by Cuelho.
Church of Saint Dimitrios
Located on a hill at the entrance of Sirince köyü, this church is a Greek church dating from the 19th century. The church was converted into a mosque by the immigrants who came here from Greece during the exchange period. The altar and walls of the church are decorated with frescoes of the 12 apostles. Among these frescoes, the names and pictures of Andrew and Mark are the only ones that have survived to the present day. Until 2012, the church, which was in ruins until 2012, underwent restoration and reopened in 2016.
- Map: Çapak, 35860 Torbalı/İzmir, Türkiye
- Open: 10am- 5pm on all days of the week except Monday – Tuesday
This is the largest classic car museum in Turkey. Since 2001, Murat and Selim Özgörkey brothers have been collecting hundreds of pieces from Turkey and around the world, from cars to motorbikes, petrol stations, mascots and even scarves. The museum is 40 minutes from Şirince and half an hour from Selçuk centre. If you are in this neighbourhood, we strongly recommend you to visit.
The Çamlık Railway Museum
- Address: Çamlık Village, Selçuk/İzmir
The Çamlık Railway Museum, a.k.a. Çamlık Steam Locomotive Museum not crowded because it is not known, but just as beautiful. Here about 7 km from Selçuk by railway and road and was opened in 1991.
It is the largest railway museum in Turkey and contains one of the largest steam locomotive collections in Europe with 33 steam locomotives displayed outside. The best famous is steam locomotive number 45501, which was involved in the Yarımburgaz train disaster. The head-on collision in 1957, with its death toll of 95, is the deadliest train accident in Turkey as of 2010.
Ancient City of Ephesus
If you haven’t had the opportunity to see the ancient city of Ephesus, one of the most valuable cultural assets in Turkey and a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site, you may not want to skip it when it is only 11 kilometres and 18 minutes away. The Ancient Theatre and the world-famous Library of Celsus are truly magnificent in every sense of the word!
And, our conclusion
Although it is called Şirince Village, it is actually a much different place than a village. With its architecture preserved for years, places to visit and culture, Şirince is a different world in itself.
If you prefer quiet but at the same time lively places to relax, Sirince köyü is the place for you. It is the place to write a book. If I remember correctly, Paulo Coelho started writing O Zahir here.