Cunda's stone cafes (PHOTOS: PAT YALE)
17 June 2012 / PAT YALE , AYVALIK
There’s something different about Ayvalık, the small resort town on the Aegean coast midway between Assos and Bergama. It’s not something that smacks you in the face as soon as you arrive there -- indeed it would be perfectly possible to pass through on a quick visit and never really notice anything special.
On a longer stay, though, the difference will quickly make itself felt. It’s there in the secretive cobbled streets immediately behind the waterfront, and it’s there, too, in the narrow streets that meander back behind the main square.
The most striking thing about backstreet Ayvalık is that it’s full of small stone houses that bear the clear imprint of the Greeks. Why should there be quite so many “Rum evleri” (Greek houses) here? The answer lies in the fallout from a naval battle between the Ottomans and the Russians in 1773, which ended in Ottoman defeat. The Greeks of Ayvalık rescued Sultan Selim III’s grand vizier Cezayırlı Hasan Paşa, and in return he granted them virtual autonomy, a novelty the town shared, incidentally, with Kurtuluş in İstanbul......