Discovering Assos: History, nature and the Aegean

Published 16.07.2019 01:19
Assos’ bays are the best places to experience the  Aegean Sea’s crystal clear water.
Assos’ bays are the best places to experience the Aegean Sea’s crystal clear water.

If you want to spend your holiday in a place with deeply rooted history and marvelous bays, head to Çanakkale's Assos this year

The resort and historical town of Assos is a special destination for many visitors seeking tranquility, nature and a spectacular coastline. Located in northwestern province of Çanakkale, Assos is a village and region of vast history and tradition. Once serving as the home to Aristotle, who opened a philosophy school here with magnificent ruins to prove it, Assos is a beautiful, unique area of the Aegean in Turkey to visit.

All about Assos

The village of Assos actually consists of three distinct neighborhoods: Behramkale, Assos Liman and Kadırga Beach. Referred to as Behramkale by locals, Assos is a hilltop village that sits at 235 meters above sea level overlooking the surrounding coast and valleys. At the very top of the town lies the Doric Temple of Athena and the ancient ruins of the town spanning back 2,000 years. Home to philosophers such as Aristotle, who married and opened a school there, Assos is steeped in history, evident by its remaining spectacular stone structures. All the lore aside, these days many of the historical stone homes of the town have been converted into boutique hotels, making for a great setting to be immersed in history and nature.

Heading down from the historical town on the hilltop, an extremely windy road brings you down to the Assos Antik Liman, which is the seaside area of the ancient town. For locals and visitors alike, it is the most popular dining destination, with fish restaurants dotting the shore. Though during the day the area is home to some of the most upscale beach clubs in the region, it has a much more relaxed, low-key feel compared to other similar holiday spots. This is the type of destination that hosts well-known actors and personalities, but as a place for them to relax and go into hiding rather than being chased down by paparazzi.

Approximately 5 kilometers away is Kadırga Beach, a stunning stretch of vast sandy beach on the Aegean with crystal clear, cool water. For those who want to sunbathe and swim, Kadırga Beach is the place to be. The restaurants are more authentic and low-key as are the beach clubs. The accommodation options are more in the form of camping, glamping and just a handful of nice hotels, all of which have direct access to the spectacular sea of the area.

The ruins of the ancient Greek civilization, including the remains of the Doric Temple of Athena that date back 2,000 years.

What to do

With the three distinct areas it hosts, Assos is one of the largest villages in the country. For some, it is a place to discover vast history and wander among the ruins of the ancient town. For others, it is all about spending the day relaxing on the beach. Either way, it is a great place for everyone. Starting at the hilltop town is the norm and wandering up to the tip to discover the Temple of Athena, which dramatically stands overlooking the sea and the neighboring isle of Lesbos. From there, visitors wander through the town discovering artisan shops and boutique hotels, each which have their own vista and quirky characteristics. The ancient ruins of Assos lie between Behramkale and Assos Liman and make for a wonderful excursion as you can wander through ruins of sarcophagi and truly feel what the town must have been like in its heyday.

For a day of soaking up the sun, Kadırga Beach has expansive sandy beaches, with a number of beach clubs serving drinks and food for those relaxing on sun loungers. It is also possible to enjoy the sea from Assos Liman; however, the beach is rocky, the sea is accessed from docks and the beach clubs are a bit more upscale. For those seeking to enjoy the sea and surrounding nature in peace and quiet, head west to towns such as Sokakağzı and Sivrice where there are a number of low-key campsites and accommodation options that are also situated on beaches and can make for an excellent base to discover the region. I lived as an American in the region for seven years and loved it. There is a community of foreigners and city dwellers alike who have chosen to make this region home and many have opened up creative and comfortable boutique hotels and restaurants, which make for a great launching pad to experience Assos.

Where to stay

The village of Behramkale hosts the most established and colorful of boutique accommodation in the region. The Assosyal is a hotel that has been there for decades and is owned by an artist family that has made the place their studio. Experiencing stunning views of the inland valley among sculptures, antiques and innovative artwork is what makes you feel that this place is special.

The Sunset Boutique Hotel is one of the rare hotels in Behramkale that has spectacular views of the sea. With a cafe offering three levels of chill out space and hands down the best sunset in town, hence the name, Sunset Boutique is certainly one of the most enjoyable options.

The Nar Konak is another well-established upscale five-bedroom hotel that sits atop the town with panoramic views and impressive huge stones on which you can lie on and watch the stars go by at night. This particular hotel is owned by an Argentinean-Turkish couple that is also the purveyors of Dulce de Leche, the delicious milky caramel from South America, which they produce in Assos using natural, local ingredients.

For those seeking a holiday base on the beach, the Assos Club Beyaz in Kadırga offers glamping in specially designed room-like cloth tents built on their expansive grassy garden. Although the road along the beach runs in front of it, as is the case with all of the establishments in Kadırga, with the exception of the expansive and all-inclusive Dove Hotel, what lies beyond is a wonderful stretch of sandy beach and the beautiful sparkling sea, which you can enjoy in style at Assos Club Beyaz.

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