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www.cesme.ru arrow History of Cesme

History of Cesme Версия для печати

According to historical sources, Cesme, under its ancient name of Kysus, was founded by the Ionians in the eleventh century BC. Cesme was founded as a harbor city that joined Erythrai and the sea at first (Erythrai, along with Clazomenae, Phocaea, Miletus, Myus, Priene, Ephesus, Colophon, Lebedos, Teos, Chios and Samos, was a member of the Pan-Ionian League). Later, in the seventh century BC, it was completely destroyed during the invasion of the Izmir region by the Lydian King Alyattes. After the Lydian period, Cesme came under the rule of Alexander the Great in the fourth century BC and, following his death, it became a part of the Kingdom of Pergamum.

 

In 190 BC, the Romans defeated the fleet of King Antiochus III in the seas around Cesme, and so began their conquest of Anatolia. From this time until the fourth century, Cesme was under the Roman rule. In the same century, it was taken over by the Byzantines, in the seventh century came the Arabs, then followed the Seljuks in the eleventh century, and then the Byzantines came back again. In the fourteenth century, Cesme was taken from the Byzantines, first by the seafarer Emir Caka Bey and then by one of the local Turkish Seljuk tribal leaders, Aydinoglu Gazi Umur Bey. Thus, it became a Turkish maritime base. During the fifteenth century, the Ottoman Sultan Yildirim Bayezid took Cesme from the local Anatolian tribal rule. However, after the great Ankara War, Timur retrieved Cesme for the tribe called the Aydinogullari. This was not to last long and Cesme was soon back under the Ottoman control. Back in Ottoman times, Cesme was known as a treatment resort because of its thermal waters. It boasts a 3000-year-old history marked by all the civilizations which have passed through it.

Cesme Castle
Built by the Genoese during the fourteenth century and renovated from 1508-1509 by the Ottoman Sultan Bayezid II, Cesme Castle was destroyed by the Venetians in the seventeenth century only to be reconstructed in the eighteenth century. Originally the castle was built next to the sea, but as a result of the landfill over the centuries the castle is now at a distance from the shore. With its Ottoman architecture, the castle attracts attention; look out especially for the south gate which is particularly magnificent. During the time of Sultan Bayezid II, the renowned architect Ahmetoglu Mehmet built the castle on a rectangular plan of around 11,700 square metres. The castle was divided into an inner and outer section. Three sides of the castle were surrounded by a moat; the fourth side had no need of a moat as it was flanked by the sea at the time of construction. Apart from the moat, the outer castle was protected by two ramparts. The inner castle was situated within a third rampart with two doors for entrance to the central courtyard. In the west wing of the castle there were six towers: two round towers positioned outside the castle, two rectangular towers inside and two further round towers inside to the east.
Cesme Castle has fifty sections which for many years were used by the Ottomans as both a military base and as a secure place to carry out maritime trade from the nearby port. Today, the artifacts excavated from the ancient site of Erythrai are on display inside the castle's Archaeological Museum, and the castle stands as a proud monument to its past.

The Caravanserai
In 1529, on the orders of Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent, the great Ottoman architect Omer, son of Ali Pabuccu supervised the building of a two-storey caravanserai in a typical Ottoman style. It is now the most important part of Cesme's heritage. The construction is U-shaped with a large central courtyard surrounded by store rooms and sleeping quarters. The first floor is reached by a staircase and has the same style as the ground floor. After a restoration project, the caravanserai serves as a modern hotel with 45 rooms.

The Church of Ayios Haralambos
Its historical origins are not certain, but it is believed that this church was constructed during the seventeenth century. Its layout is a basilica with three naves and two floors. The upper floor is a gallery. The building is made of stones. Above the central nave there is a vault covered with a tiled roof on the outside. Above the side naves are two transverse vaults. On the exterior, the flat roofs of the side vaults are lower than that of the central nave and lean against it. The frescoes on the ceiling and apses of the church have been preserved thanks to a covering of plaster. Dating from the seventeenth century, today the Church of Ayios Haralambos is used for film presentations, panels and meetings under its new name of the Cakabey Cultural Centre.

The Church of Ayios Konstantinos
The Church of Ayios Konstantinos was built in the village of Alacati in 1874. It was later converted and changed its name to the Pazaryeri Mosque. Its basilica layout includes three naves. It was constructed of small stones. With vaults on the inside and outside, the exterior of the central nave is curved, and the outsides of the side naves are covered with a lean-to roof. The western section of the church holds the narthex which is of two stories; its galleries stretch out over the north and south naves. In front of the pastophorio (priests' area) there is a delicately carved marble iconostasis. The ground floor of the narthex is lined with an arcade of columns, today a row of small shops. As for the galleries, they are now used for the women's prayer area. The minaret was added at a later date, it is a single column of stone. The floor of the courtyard in front of the narthex is covered in a geometric mosaic of black and white stones.

The town of fountains
Building public fountains in the streets is a very old tradition of the Anatolian culture. For centuries in this country fountains have been built in the streets, squares and thoroughfares where many people pass by or where crowds gather during the day.
These fountains serve two purposes; one is to provide a service to the community and help people quench their thirst in the hot Mediterranean weather. The second purpose is to act a memorial to those whose names they bear: in the Anatolian culture it is a gift from those who built them to the generations to come, a gesture of goodness. This is also how Cesme got its name. “Cesme” in Turkish means fountain or water tap.
The fountains, which remain mainly from the Ottoman period, can still be seen on almost every street corner. Some fountains were named after local administrators, some after local rich members of the community such as Fountain of Memis Ibn-I Ahmed, Fountain of Haci Memis Aga, Fountain of Serif Agazade, Fountain of Seyidi-I Hasan Aga, Fountain of Haci Salihe, Fountain of Hafize Rabia Hatun, Fountain of Mehmed Kethuda, Fountain of Kaymakam Sadik Bey…

Windmills
Windmills in Cesme exist since 18th century as we can see them in engravings. As the technology of grinding grain was developing, the use of traditional windmills decreased and most of them collapsed. A few of these old windmills are restored in Alacati and are used today as restaurants or cafes.

The shop of Bezzaz Kucuk Yahudi
The shop must have been built around the end of the nineteenth century. This one-floor store was built of stone and covered in andosite stone which was worked into a fine Gothic style on the façade. It shows the wealth and good taste of the period. Its original iron window frames, door frame, roof and carpets are still in good condition.

Cesmekoy
The first residents of Cesme were settled here in Cesmekoy. Today, it lies 3 km south of the town centre. During the Byzantine occupation, the father-in-law of Kilicaslan I and the first Turkish admiral, Emir Caka Bey, conquered the Carrie Peninsula, came to Cesme in 1081 and settled in this centre of the Oguz Turks.
Nowadays in Cesmekoy, we can still see a mosque and tomb as well as an interesting large burial ground from this eleventh century Turks’ settlement.

The ancient town of Erythrai
The ancient town of Erythrai, which reached its zenith in the 7th-8th centuries BC, is extremely important from a historical and tourist point of view. At its peak, it used its immense economic strength to trade with the countries of the Eastern Mediterranean. In particular, its trade relations with Cyprus and the joint trading of slaves and wine with the island of Chios led to its great commercial success.
Situated 22 km south east of Cesme, the earliest findings from the site of Erythrai date all the way back to the Bronze Age. These discoveries make it one of the most important cities of ancient times. Its name is believed to have come from the ancient Greek word 'erythros' meaning 'red' or 'red town'. The reason behind the derivation of this word is that the soil around Erythrai was deep red. According to another theory, the name of Erythrai came from the name of Erythros, a son of the Cretan Rhadamanthes who founded the city...
Through the ages, Erythrai came under the control of various rulers and was influenced by the respective civilizations. One of the first mythical rulers of Erythrai was Knopos, a son of the Athenian King Kodros; from the king's lineage came the basileus (ruler), who was elected by the people.
In the seventh century BC, as an Ionian city, Erythrai was a member of the Pan-Ionian Religious and Political League. Later, at the time of Pythagoras, and during a period of tyrannical rule, the city gained fame as a producer of millstones. The Ionian cities came under the control of the Lydians and here we see the rule of King Croesus. Later, Erythrai was invaded by Persians: and, along with the other Ionian cities, they revolted against this rule. They joined the league founded by the Spartans and supported the Maritime Union of Attica which was led by Athens. In 334 BC, Erythrai was conquered by Alexander the Great, to be followed by the Kingdom of Pergamum. When this kingdom merged with the Roman Empire, Erythrai gained the status of a free city.
At this time, Erythrai was renowned for its wines, goats, timber and millstones as well as female oracles of Cybl and Athena. The city was also famed for being the birthplace of Heracleides, the student of Herophilos of Chalcedon (modern-day Kadiloy, Istanbul) who was the leader of the School of Dogmatic Physicians. During the earthquakes and wars of the first century BC, a large part of the city was damaged.
When the Roman Empire was divided into two, Erythrai became part of the Byzantine Empire and lost all its importance. As the monotheistic religion strengthened, the pagan Erythrai saw many of its ancient buildings damaged.
In 1336, Erythrai came under the rule of the Turks and its name was changed to Rahtur or Lythri or similar. The name of Erythrai became Ilderen in the 16th century, then Ildiri, and, finally, Ildir, its present name.
During excavations from 1963-1983, many remains of the Erythrai acropolis and theatre were brought to light. The excavations discovered traces of a temple at the highest point of the acropolis and city walls that stretched for 5 km around the ancient settlement. Other findings included pottery, bowls, stone and clay figures, vases and statues from the 6th and 7th centuries BC. Under the sea, other ancient artifacts were found, along with traces of a port and breakwaters.
It is documented that a temple to Athena was located on the acropolis of Erythrai. Despite the fact that no architectural trace of the temple was found during excavation, many gold, bronze and ivory artifacts from the Archaic period were discovered. The flat area between the village found on the western slope of the acropolis and the official acropolis may have been the actual temple site. From what we know from ancient sources, a statue of Artemis with golden garlands was in the agora. No trace of it has been found as yet, as well as of the city's gymnasium.

Erythrai and Legends
This area is famous for ancient legends that you can't find in the history books. Here's an example. A statue described as that of the deified Hercules was left on a raft in the sea off the town of Tyros in Phoenicia. The raft sailed along the Ionian coast until it came to rest on a promontory of Mesate Burnu situated right between the island of Chios (Sakiz in Turkish) and Erythrai. Both the people of Chios and the citizens of Erythrai did their best to bring the statue to their own land but the statue would not budge. A blind fisherman of Erythrai told that a rope made by from the hair of a woman would be able to pull the statue from its place, but no noble ladies were eager to sacrifice their hair. So blue-blooded slave Thracian girls were chosen and a rope of their hair brought the statue to Erythrai. Along with that miracle, the blind man's sight was cured. An area of town was consecrated for the statue of Hercules and the Thracian slaves were forbidden to leave this area. In the museum, take a look at the coins taken from the ruins of Erythrai; look especially at the temple and the description of the statue. You will be surprised to see that the story we have told you is true. Another legend from Erythrai belongs to the local woman goddess, Cybl (Sibyl).


Legend of Cybl
Another legend mentions the female oracle of Erythrai, Cybl. Cybl was born on Mount Korykos and was blessed by the gods with the power of divine revelation. Cybl's father was a mortal, her mother was a nymph. She started divining from the moment of her birth. The words that fell from her lips were prophetic, and it is said that she lived the lives of nine people, each life of 110 years. Maybe Cybl's secret of a healthy life was not her oracle’s strength but the fact that she lived in Cesme. According to expert doctors, patients who want to be rid of many diseases need only to bathe '21 times' in the curative waters of the Ilica and Sifne spas which are to be found right here in Cesme...

 

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