Turkey’s oldest fair in Izmir gets a revamp

Izmir’s International Fair, the first trade and cultural fair in Turkey, celebrates its 85th anniversary with a revamped face as its opens its doors in the Aegean city on August 26.

The fair, founded in 1923, aimed to show the international world that the new republic wanted to be part of the Western economic system and an actor in the global economy. Since then, it has been a tool of diplomacy. “The fair brought together trade groups from the opposing parties of World War II in the 1940s, as well as Iraq and Iran when the two were at war in the 1980s,” said Izmir Mayor Aziz Kocaoglu.

Izmir residents would nostalgically remember the cultural life around the fair, the cabarets where the best singers of Turkey would sing and dance. “You were not a star unless you were invited to sing at the cabarets during the International Fair of Izmir as the main vedette,” a native Izmir resident said, while admitting that the locals had a certain preference for Zeki Muren, a Turkish Liberace, Ajda Pekkan, who was one of the stars of the fair since the 1980s, and Sezen Aksu, who was originally from Izmir.

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Stuffed mussels: Turkey’s favourite food on beaches

One of my earlier memories of childhood on Boyalik beach, a popular coast near the Aegean city of Izmir, is my mother leaning from the balcony and shouting, her voice dominating the sound of the waves and the wind: “Nazlan, you get away from that man right away.”

So I would helplessly walk away, dark as a gypsy in my bathing suit, casting longing looks over my shoulder to the promises the man held before him - midye dolma, or stuffed mussels, Turkey’s favourite street and beach food. 

Three decades and about several thousand midye dolmas later, I am sitting in front of Huseyin Akagunduz, a.k.a.  “The mussel man,” who opens one earthly delight after the other, squeezes some lemon drops on it and offers it to me to gobble it up. I am already on my 15th. Huseyin himself is wearing the same outfit that I have seen him in the last three decades – black bermudas and a white polo. Only now, the t-shirt has a logo “Midyeci Sakir- founded in 1970.”

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Best preserved brick construction found in Metropolis

The world's best preserved brick vault has been unearthed in Izmir's Torbali district during archaeological excavations at Metropolis Ancient City. The vault is believed to be part of the ancient city's public bath and it dates back 1,900 years ago.

Serdar Aybek, an associate professor at Manisa Celal Bayar University who is heading the excavations, said the structure is one of the best preserved brick vaults in the world. He also said the service corridors were an incredible discovery for the science of archaeology as they are "still standing strong." Offering information about the current exhumation process, Aybek said archaeologists at the site have excavated a Hellenistic-era theatre, a parliament building, a gallery with columns and buildings reflecting the ancient city's structure such as two public baths, a hall with mosaics, a villa, shops and streets built during the Roman Empire.

He said they also unearthed over 10,000 artefacts belonging to the Hellenistic and Roman eras such as ceramics, glassware, architectural pieces, sculptures and artefacts made of bone, ivory and minerals. "We will continue to excavate Metropolis Ancient City and unearth the secrets of the city in efforts to introduce this archaeological site to Turkey's tourism," Aybek added.

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Turtles reach sea in Turkey’s Marmaris

Loggerhead sea turtles (caretta caretta) that hatched from their nests in the western province of Mugla’s Marmaris district have finally reached the sea in their species’ annual migration, under the inspection of Pamukkale University Biology Department member Associate Professor Eyup Baskale.

For the last seven days, the Marmaris City Council Environmental Group had been observing eggs left by a sea turtle 50 days ago on the Icmeler Beach.  All eggs in the nest have been handled and the last two caretta caretta turtles were directed to the sea by a flashing light.

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Izmir International Fair creates a cultural hub in the Aegean coastal town

Organized by IZFAS, under the auspices of Izmir Metropolitan Municipality, the 85th edition of the Izmir International Fair will kick off on Aug. 26 and run until Sept. 4. This year's fair will turn Izmir into a hub for arts and culture and host free workshops, and international exhibitions for painting and sculpture along with a film festival.

Art Street will be part of the fair and will host workshops geared for people of every age. While the Circus Workshop will teach participants the details of putting on a circus show, the Graffiti Workshop, Pre-School Workshop, Wooden Toy Colouring Workshop, Jewellery Design Workshop and Photography Workshop will offer their services to those who are interested between 06:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m. at the fair. Moreover, children will have a chance to discover their talents at the Nerf Game event and the Pinar Painting Workshop will offer guidance of professional educators to participants. Ege University will also provide educative training for creating new artistic forms by using various materials that can be found in our everyday lives.

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Happiest city waits to enjoy Happiness Festival

Located on the the Black Sea coast, Sinop, which has assumed the title of "the happiest city of Turkey," is getting ready to host a festival.

The Happiness Festival will be organized by the Sinop Municipality and the Sinop Güç Birliği Foundation and will run from Sept. 1-4 in the Akliman region. The festival will be held to remind people that the most valuable thing a person can experience during his or her life time is happiness.

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Volunteer students working to save endangered sea turtles in Turkey

In Turkey, there are limited breeding areas for loggerhead sea turtles, one of them being in Antalya's resort town of Belek where volunteers spend their summer to look after the hatching turtles

The resort town of Belek in southern Antalya is not merely a vacation spot but also Turkey's largest breeding ground for loggerhead sea turtles. One group of student volunteers devote much of their time to caring for the baby sea turtles, whose population reaches nearly 10,000 annually. One of these volunteers, Fatih Polat, is a master's student who is known as the most passionate volunteer and his friends affectionately call him "Kaplumbaga Terbiyecisi" (The Tortoise Trainer).  The 25-year-old student has been volunteering in Belek for the past five years. In addition to studying for his master's degree, Polat has been working day and night to increase the population of loggerhead sea turtles, which are in danger of going extinct.

Polat, a member of a team that camps in the area as part of the Sea Turtle Protection and Conservation Project, commenced under the presidency of Ali Fuat Canbolat, the chairman of the Ecologic Research Association (EKAD), where he begins working at 4 a.m. in the morning.  Starting from May 15 and working until the beginning of October, Polat, along with other university student volunteers, determines the nesting areas of mature turtles during the months of May, June and July. Then, each nest is marked through GPRS and by placing a stick as a marker at the nests. Polat later enters the information they have gathered from the field into the database located inside the camp.

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Welcome Changes to Turkish Residence Permit Expected

Yesterday evening (Tues Aug 16) social media was buzzing as news emerged of major changes being applied to residence permits in Turkey.

HM Consul Turkey tweeted; 'changes to residence permits. Short term permits valid up to 2 yrs. 120 day limit for absence removed' and The Ministry of Interior's  Twitter account posted several tweets announcing changes.

These changes included the 120 day rule on absence from Turkey being scrapped for short term residence permits (STRP) along the 180 day rule for family residence permits (FRP).  They also stated that there is the possibility of increasing STRP from one year to two and FRP from two years to three.

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The virgin grape
The first taste of a grape is unforgettable, especially if it is a fragrant, aromatic one ripened to honeydew sweetness under the scorching summer sun. The ambrosial experience of such a grape is unmatched, more so if that particular single grape comes from a bunch that is meant to end up in a bottle. The thrill of imagining the wine that bunch is destined for must be beyond compare.

Officially the grape season has just started. The first picking of grapes is now allowed; the vineyards can be exploited without a trace of guilt. Of course local grapes started to appear on our table’s way earlier this season, not to mention the year-round available imported ones; but once upon a time, in this land of grapes, it was a sin to pick and taste a single grape berry before mid-August. There were no legal measures about the grape picking calendar, but culturally or religiously Anatolian vineyards always had an unwritten code of rules. There was logic in this custom, as grapes would not be ripened enough before a certain date, without having the full exposure to the blasts of summer heat. The first ever viticulture laws were written by the Hittites about four millennia ago. The code of ethics about tending a vineyard and not harming others were strictly followed; harming a single vine would result in heavy penalties. The impulses of gluttony, however, had to be controlled by religion.

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Izmir Bird Sanctuary sees record flamingo chicks this year

 

The flamingo breeding season has reached its peak level at the Izmir Bird Sanctuary, one of the two main flamingo habitats in Turkey. This year, almost 15,000 flamingo chicks were born, a significantly high number compared to previous seasons.

The flamingo breeding season generally starts in May, but before that the area is cleaned to provide a suitable environment for flamingos. After Lake Tuz, Turkey's second-biggest lake, the Izmir Bird Sanctuary on the Gediz Delta in the Aegean region, is home to thousands of flamingos each year. Since 2011, the number of flamingos has steadily increased, reaching a record level this year. The artificially formed breeding area is one of the largest in the world at almost 6,500 square meters. Hayati Binboga of the Forestry and Water Affairs Ministry said that flamingo numbers decreased in previous years for certain reasons but they have recorded a doubled number this year, as 7,000 flamingo chicks were born last year.

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The rules of Turkish hospitality

One of the most standout traits in Turkish culture is undoubtedly hospitality. In fact, there is even a town, Kilis that is vying for the Nobel Peace Prize for their hospitality having welcomed more than their own population of refugees.

Turkey's hospitality towards the refugees does not come as such a surprise as sharing their space, helping people and maintaining neighbourly relations, just happen to be the three main tenets in place in Turkey. That Turks come from a nomadic culture has only imprinted these values from generation to generation to now become the country's national identity, in which hospitality and familial relations are certainly considered their most important cultural values.

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Gourmets head to Turkey's Black Sea for tea championship

The Turkey Tea Championship takes place as a part of the eighth Tea and Summer Sports Festival, which runs from Aug. 25-27 in the northeastern province of Rize where a great amount of Turkish tea is cultivated.

The championship is open to people of ages between 18 to 35, including tea professionals, teahouse owners, restaurants, and service, food and tourism or tea sector workers. The championship, which will be organized by the Rize Commerce Stock Market, will be in three categories: Brewing, matching and tasting. Applications will be accepted until Aug. 22, pre-selections will held be on Aug. 25-26 with the finals taking place on Aug. 27 at the Rize Commerce Stock Market.

The winners in each category will receive 50 kilograms of dry tea, while those coming in second and third place will receive 30 kilograms and 20 kilograms, respectively. Moreover, the champion will represent Turkey in the International Tea Championship Competition.

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Turkey's first 'island museum' to open on Zeytinliada

 

Zeytinliada, a small island linked to the western Balikesir's Erdek district, is expected to become Turkey's first "island museum," following an archeopark project.

The area has long been a religious centre dating back to at least 300 B.C.  It has four churches and a pagan temple along with other Roman-era structures like a bath and houses. Known as Kera Panagia in antiquity, the small island has been undergoing excavations for the last eight years, which will finish soon. Boardwalks will be placed along the archeopark to allow visitors to more easily explore the area.

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Visiting Izmir

 

Most people who visit our beautiful town of Kusadasi have never really travelled beyond the cities limits unless it was with a planned excursion.  I came as a tourist for many years and the only experience of Izmir I had was at the airport.

Having made friends in Kusadasi who lived in Izmir and who where always asking me to visit – I always declined as I was nervous of making the journey on my own.  However, I bit the bullet and decided to visit after being given instructions on how to get there and where we would meet.  It turned out to be a really simple journey and I thought that this month I would like to share with our readers as to how easy visiting Izmir really was.

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Red Flag project in coastal Izmir eases life for people with disabilities

Initiated in the Aegean city of Izmir, the Red Flag project is expanding. It is a project that focuses on locations and transportation to ease the life of people with disabilities.

The project, which started in Izmir and has continued for the last three years, aims to increase the number of places accessible to people with visual, physical and hearing disabilities. These casual places or venues can have two stars or three stars for the project after receiving approval from the Red Flag commission of the metropolitan municipality. Currently, there are 50 places on the piers of Bostanli, Karsiyaka, Konak and Uckuyular.

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Skeleton of ancient woman unearthed in Turkey's southwest
A 1,300-year- old skeleton of a young woman has been unearthed in the ancient city of Stratonikeia in the southwestern province of Mugla’s Yatagan district.

Excavation head and Pamukkale University Archaeology Department academic Prof. Bilal Sogut said work had been carried out in the ancient city’s Western Street and they had found many pieces from the Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine and Beylik periods.  “We are also working in the city’s graveyard and found the graves of adults and children. Recently we found a 120-centimeter-tall skeleton in one of the graves. We believe it belongs to a young woman who died some 1,300 years ago,” he said.

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