It all started with Seferihisar, a little town in the Aegean province of İzmir. Thanks to its calmer, healthier lifestyle, Seferihisar became Turkey’s first-ever slow city to be included in the Cittaslow Network based in Italy in 2009. Following the footsteps of Seferihisar, now 14 other towns have been crowned as “Turkey’s slow cities.” However, today, we are not talking about the success of other towns. The star of this week’s “Slow Cities of Turkey” corner is Seferihisar. Seferihisar is one of the most peaceful, natural and historical towns in İzmir. The oldest settlement in Seferihisar is Teos, which is believed to have been founded in 2000 B.C. by the Cretans. The ancient city, whose ruins can be still visited in Seferihisar’s Sığacık neighborhood, was one of the 12 cities that formed the Ionian League. Yet, its roots in antiquity are not what make Seferihisar so precious. Once you step in Seferihisar, a state of calmness surrounds you. You suddenly morph into a happy villager, shedding your big city suit. Life is simple in Seferihisar. You can enjoy delicious local food, drive to the nearest beach, enjoy a quick dip into the Aegean and spend the night at a village-house-turned-motel. Seferihisar meets more than 60 of the criteria set forth for slow cities, which is a concept that came into being as an opposition to globalization. Preserving local tastes, supporting the Slow Food philosophy, using clean energy, maintaining places of historical and cultural value and local products have made Seferihisar one of the most visited slow cities in the world. In subsequent years, Seferihisar has implemented many innovative programs as a slow city. Among these projects, the most important one is probably the focus on organic agriculture. Seferihisar’s “Ecological Market” is where you can find organic food, collected from local gardens and grown without chemicals. In addition, these products are cheap because they are directly sold to consumers from manufacturers. It is open six days a week and offers opportunities to local women to sell their handicrafts, as well. With the Seed Trade Festival, people can trade organic seeds with each other, offering continuity and sustainability for organic food.
The town is famous for its olives and mandarins, which also have their own festival, taking place every November. The festival encourages local producers to continue growing their products organically while extending invitations to people around the world to try delicious Seferihisar mandarins. However, Seferihisar is not just a pretty face. The town continues to improve its game, spearheading numerous projects among the slow cities around the world. This lovely town has a program titled “An Author in Residence,” which includes inviting a well-known author or poet to the town and enabling them to interact with locals while being inspired by the town and its calmness. Seferihisar continues to be an inspiring town but don’t be fooled: all these festivals and projects do not take away from the town’s charm. For the last 10 years and years to come, İzmir’s Seferihisar will continue to be a place for getting away from the chaos of modern life.
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