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Foça, Turkiye

Foça, TurkiyeFoça (Fo-cha) is a town and district in Turkiye's İzmir Province, on the Aegean coast. The town of Foça is situated at about 69 kilometers or 43 miles northwest of İzmir's city center.

The district also has a township with its own municipality named Yenifoça - literally "New Foça", also along the shore and at a distance of 20 kilometers or12 miles from Foça proper.

For this reason, Foça itself is locally often referred to as Eskifoça ("Old Foça") in daily parlance. The town is built on the site of the ancient city of Phocaea (Greek: Φώκαια).

Foça, with its administrative center Eski Foça is composed of the following villages: Bağarası, Yeni Bağarası, Gerenköy, Ilıpınar, Koca Mehmetler, Kozbeyli, Yeni Foça and Yeniköy. It’s total area is 275 square meters, with a population around 33.000 as of the end of May 2020.

The administrative center, Eski Foça, is 70 kilometers from the city of Symrna by highway. It is founded in the largest cove of the peninsula between the bays of Symrna and Çandarlı; at the north of Symrna.

The small peninsula extends from east to west dividing Eski Foça into two harbours: Büyükdeniz and Küçükdeniz. If you reach Eski Foça by highway, you will first meet with a panoramic view.

Two harbors, a lighthouse, the English Point, castle, small islands and windmills. The sunset over the English Point makes the view even more attractive.

Foça, TurkiyeThe town of Phocaea (Φώκαια) was founded by the ancient Greeks. Phocaea, named after the seals living in nearby islands, was founded by the Aeolian Greeks in the 11th century BC.

The Ionian Greek settlement in Phocaea, which was one of the most important settlements of Ionia at that time, started in the 9th century BC. Phocaeans, known as master sailors in history, also established many colonies in the Aegean, Mediterranean and Black Sea with their engineering development and success.

Some of the important colonies that they had established in history are: Massalia, modern Marseille; Amisos in the Black Sea (now Samsun); Lampsakos in the Dardanelles (now Lapseki); Methymna (now Molyvos) on Lesbos; and Elea, now Velia (Italy); Alalia (Corsica).

Phokai has no meaning in Hellenistic language. Professor Bilge Umar alleges that it comes from the word “Pauwake” in the Luwi language, which means ‘watery place’.

Josef Keil proposed that this name was given because of the similarity with the seals that emerged on the water’s surface in front of the harbor.

Phokaia, which was named after the seals that live in Foça islands, was founded by Aiols in 11 BC. Ionian settlement in Phokaia, which was one of the most important settlement places of Ionia at that time, began in 9 BC.

Being known as great sailors throughout history, Phokaians also established many colonies in the regions of the Aegean, Mediterranean and the Black Sea with their knowledge in engineering.

Foça, TurkiyeSome of the important colonies established by the people of Foça are as follows: Amysos in Black Sea (now Samsun), Lampsakos in the Dardenelles (now Lapseki), Methymna in Midilli Island (now Molyvoz), Elea in Europe (now Italy), Alalia (Corsica), and Massalia (now Marseilles, France).

Phokaians are also known for being one of the first ones to print the “electron coin” using a natural mixture of gold and silver. Surely, a civil advancement of this magnitude impressed other civilizations and attracted them to Anatolia.

The Genoese are the ones who founded the New Foça of today. Foça in history, was respectively taken by Çaka Bey in 13th century and by Saruhanoğulları Beylic.

And after the great conquest, the Ottoman Sultan, Mehmed II took Foça and made it become Ottoman soil. Having been a home for many civilizations and communities, Foça has become an important archeologic center.

In non-stop excavations since 1953 until the present day, a theater from Hellenistic era, the Temple of Athena, a Harbor Sanctuary and Persian Mausoleum have been unearthed.

The above mentioned mauseloum was created as a monument for the commanders of Ahamenid-Persian army which had invaded in 492 BC. The monument is one of the rare works by Persians in Anatolia.

Foça, TurkiyeIn antiquity, the walls that passed over the hills on the east of the city also surrounded the peninsula that contained The Temple of Athena. The best preserved parts of the city walls dating from the Middle Ages surrounding the city are repairs from the Byzantine, Genoese and Ottoman eras.

Foça became Ottoman soil in 1455 after the Genoeses. The walls of the city that were worn out in those years were repaired and strengthened. Five Gates is a part of the Ottoman and Genoese wall system surrounding the peninsula, and is located on the west of the peninsula.

It has five gates faced towards the sea. This is why it is named as Beş Kapılar (Five Gates). Shaped like a horseshoe, it has a plan that resembles antique era amphitheators.

It was used as a place for repairing small boats in the years it was constructed. It is written in the inscription on the entrance gate that Sultan Mustafa, son of Kanuni Sultan Suleiman, was rebuilt by the woodcutter Silahtar İskender Aga in 1538-1539.

Nowadays it is used as an area where all kinds of social and cultural activities are carried out. The city was mostly populated by Greeks until the Massacre of Phocaea carried out by the Turks during the Greek mass deportation.

As a result, a large portion of the historic city was destroyed, and all the old churches were destroyed and mosques were built on top of them and the town subsequently became known as Foça.

Eski Foça stretches along two bays; a larger one named Büyükdeniz ("Greater Sea") and a smaller cove within that large one, named Küçükdeniz ("Smaller Sea"), where the medieval Foça Castle is also located.

Foça, TurkiyeMany parts of the district are under strict environmental protection, due to the value of the flora, the fauna, and the beauty of the small bays and coves, especially between Foça and Yenifoça.

Therefore, a judicious way to get to know the district would be by a boat tour. these are regularly organized in partance from the town center. Because of the protective measures, new constructions are not permitted in many parts of the district and Foça is set to preserve its unique characteristic as composed principally of old houses.

The construction project for a 300-boat capacity marina in Foça is recently tendered and started, upon the completion of which the town is expected to open to more active international tourism.

Foça is the site of one of three marine protected areas established in Turkiye for the preservation of the Mediterranean monk seal, a heavily endangered species of sea mammals.

The Turkish Navy maintains the home bases of its two special operations units, Su Altı Savunma (SAS) and Su Altı Taarruz (SAT) at Foça.

Kybele, who is of Anatolian origin, is the oldest mother goddess of Foça. She was widely worshipped during the Phyrigian period. The mother goddess was worshipped in open air on the mountains.

Kybele represents the wild animals and nature. She is the goddess of plenty and fertility. Temple of Kybele in Small Sea dates back to 600s BC. There were relieves of goddesses in the niches of different sizes in Kybele Sanctuary.

Foça, TurkiyeThe holes on the right and left of the niches were used for lighting purposes. There is a big pool where the bloods of the sacrifices to the goddess were drained in front of the statues in the temple area, which was made by carving the rocks.

Sailors would sacrifice and pray in the area near the shore before and after their travels to show their gratitude. There are many statues of Kybele and sacrificial altars at open air temples in İncir Island, Hill of Windmills and some other excavation sites.

The economy is mostly dependant on small entities for tourism, agriculture, animal breeding and fishery. Tourism is the most popular in Eski Foça and Yeni Foça while the economy is based on agriculture in the inland neighborhoods.

At the administrative center in Eski Foça, an important percentage of the population are employees of the goverment. With the support and contribution of the metropolitan and local municipalities, the economic activity in its agriculture sector is increasing during the last several decades.

Mediterranean climate areas are places where the so-called "Mediterranean Trinity" of agricultural products have traditionally developed: wheat, grapes and olives. Foça is also one of these areas.

Regarding aquaculture, Foça Peninsula has become highly advantageous with its fishery becoming an important economic asset. There are small and bigger coves located along the shore between Aliağa District and Gediz River.

Foça, TurkiyeAt Eski Foça and Yeni Foça, families exceeding 300 in number make thier living from the sea. Around 30 species of economically important fish grow in the Foça area so that its become one of the main areas for fishery in the Mediterranean.

There are 20 poultry businesses, 195 cattle, 86 small cattle farms. Animal products are mainly milk, chicken meat and egg. As of 2015, number of cattle is 12.269, whereas number of small cattle is 12.000.

Yoghurt is a milk product obtained by fermentation of milk specific microorganisms, which shall be viable, active and abundant in the product.

Bağarası ve Yeni Bağarası Cooperation is producing yoğurt by buying the milk of its partners. Its well known and highly demanded for its quality and natural production.

Tourism is an important economic activity in Foça like it is all around the coastal areas of Turkiye. Eski Foça and Yeni Foça have become prominent within tourism. In both regions, the number of the historical buildings that are restored and operated as hotels are gradually increasing.

Foça has a remarkable potential for Cultural, nature-based and Agricultural Tourism. Foça is located in western Anatolia in the Aegean Region. It is within the

Foça Peninsula covers 25.411 ha area of the Gediz Basin. The area has been declared as a natural, archeological, and urban protected area.

Foça, TurkiyeThe 8 villages of Foça - Bağarası, Yeni Bağarası, Gerenköy, Ilıpınar, Koca Mehmetler, Kozbeyli, Yeni Foça and Yeniköy - have become prominent with their pristine nature, olive production and fertile agricultural lands.

Since August 2015, İZDENİZ ferries have been operating during the summer season.

The tender for the marina construction project with a capacity of 280 boats in Foça was started recently and it is expected that the district will be opened to more active international tourism after its completion.

Festivals that have been held in Foça for a long time have taken a on different dimension recently and moved to the international level. Festivals held since 2004 are now known as the International Foça Festival . The festivals, which generally last for three days, bring many celebrities and visitors to Foça.

Foça has many historical and diverse places from various periods. Stone houses are available. The number of tourists coming not only in summer but also in winter has increased.

Fatih Mosque , which was built by Fatih Sultan Mehmet and rebuilt by Kanuni Sultan Süleyman , and Foça Kayalar Mosque , dating from the Ottoman period, are among places of interest.

Siren Rocks mentioned by Homer are located in Foça. According to him, these rocks have been the subject of many rumors for the sailors passing by because the shores of Foça have the appearance of many large and small islands.

Foça, TurkiyeToday's Foça has been spared from foreign mass tourism and is instead a popular weekend and holiday destination for Izmir residents. The main reason for this is that Turkiye's Navy is stationed in the region.

The bay directly adjacent to the new port thus greatly inhibits the expansion of the city to areas along the coast.

Although holiday homes, some guest houses and two hotels have been built in Foça itself in the last two decades, the original vibe of the town has been preserved.

There are fish restaurants one after another in the picturesque Foça harbor. This is where the Turks of Izmir , who want to escape the noise and stress of the big city, arrive for the weekend. The typical audience is upper Turkish middle class: teachers, artists, musicians, engineers meet here.

Longer vacationers prefer Yenifoça, about 20 kilometers to the north, which isn't that spectacular in terms of scenery but offers enough hotels and resorts to accomodate local and foreign tourists.

Foça is also known for its Siren cliffs (islands) , which Homer has clearly described in the Odyssey . Today, however, they are better known for being home to some of the last monk seals in the Mediterranean.

Therefore, the Siren Islands can only be viewed from afar. They are uninhabited and are used by locals to free a small number of goats, since the islands have no natural water sources, can be fed liquids by the very barren vegetation and morning dew.

Foça, TurkiyeFoça became a mighty sea-power, establishing colonies across the Mediterranean as far away as Corsica, Spain and Marseille, France.

Around 550 BC the city came under the control of King Croesus of Lydia, who exemplified the Golden Rule: he whom has the most gold, can make all the rules.

But he and his dominion were in time conquered by the Persians, and much of Phocaea's population evacuated to its colonies. The city survived but was never as important again and over the years came under Athenian, Roman and Genoese rule.

Yeni Foça was established in the 12th century, and briefly outgrew the old town due to gypsum mining. From the late medieval era the area was Ottoman-controlled, but still retained a substantial Greek population.

The Greeks suffered a massacre during June of 1914, when much of the old town was destroyed, and after the treaty of 1923 they were resettled in Greece. Today some of their architecture survives in the center of Eski Foça.


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