Foça, not unlike many others along the Aegean coast, is a town about 3000 years old. For most of its history, it was known as Phocaea/Phokaia, which was the metropolis (“mother city”, i.e. sailors of which founded the colony) of a number of cities in western Mediterranean, including Marseille, France.
Modern Foça is one of the towns with a well-preserved old town full of stone/Greek architecture on the Aegean coast, along with others such as Ayvalık, Alaçatı, and Çeşme, but perhaps the least known and the least travelled of them.
Foça was for long known for its local breed of roosters, but with the growing environmentalist movement, critically endangered Mediterranean monk seal (Monachus monachus)—after which, known as fokia in Greek and fok in Turkish, the town was named in the first place—largely replaced them as the mascot of the town. Around 20 individuals of this species, which is estimated to have a worldwide population of fewer than 600, live on the uninhabited islands just off Foça.
The Beş Kapılar Castle was built by Genoese but there existed a smaller fortress since the Hellenistic period. When Phokaia was captured by the Ottomans in 1455, its ramparts were repaired and towers were added.
The castle had also a boat house which is used as an open air theater today and the wall was restored in 1983 and 1994.
Here are some small islands facing Foca, these are; Orak, Incir, Kartdere, Fener, Hayirsiz, and Metalik Islands. Especially two of them, Orak and Incir, are the islets known as the Sirens’ Rocks mentioned in the Homer’s Odyssey. Homer described these rocks as to where ships crashed after sailors loosing their way because of the spell-binding voices of the Sirens, mythological creatures of sort of women having wings. It was probably the effect of the wind passing over the rocks to create this sort of mythological voices. These strange rocks were originally formed by volcanic eruptions, waves, wind and rain.
Seytan Hamami is a tomb cut out of the rock at the foot of Can Hill, around 2 kilometers east from Foça center. It’s probably dating back to the 4th century BC. Entering the tomb from an arched entrance, there are 2 burial chambers inside. During the excavations, a stone block made of white, red and green marbles, a base, some inscriptions, and a lions statue were discovered. Unfortunately this tomb was sacked way in the past thus none of the important artifacts were found.
A natural island resembling the face of modern Turkey’s founder Atatürk. So comes its name…
Foça is told by the great historian Herodotus. According to Herodotus, the Phocaeans were the first Greeks to make long sea-voyages, having discovered the coasts of the Adriatic, Tyrrhenia and Spain. Herodotus relates that they so impressed Argonthonios, King of Tartessus in Spain, that he invited them to settle there, and, when they declined, gave them a great sum of money to build a wall around their city.
Herodotus claims that Foça was set up “under the most beautiful sky and climate”. Come and experience yourself!
– Wind surfing
– Boat tours
– Nature walks
Fish, fish and fish!
Foça is a fishing centre for 3,000 years and offers a wide range fresh fish along with delicious mezes (snacks) at fish restaurants along the harbour.