With its stone houses inherited from the Rums, warm people, market place where you can find all kinds of plants and beauty of its nature, Tire makes a person say, “Here I am in the Aegean”.
Tire is a district which is expressed as “The Locality of Monks” by the historian Pachmeres, “Famous City of the Rums” by Şerafeddin in his Victory Book and as “Magnifical City” by the famous traveller Evliya Çelebi (1611-1682) in his Travel Book. It is among the rare districts which reflect the spirit of the Aegean that cannot be found in other places easily.
The name of Tire, which is a pretty district of the Aegean, is accepted as Thira, Thyeira, Tyrha, Apeteira, Teira in various sources. Even this richness of names is the most perceptible evidence of the ancientness of the district.
Tire is one of the cities that has the rich cultural heritage of history, which had hosted the Hittites, Phrygians, Lydians, Persians, Romans and Byzantines. But, the documentary information about the history of Tire cannot go beyond the Roman period so well. Or in other words, the period that starts with 2000 Before Christ has not been placed on a reliable ground yet.
The Holy Lands of the Artemisia Temple, which involve the Artemisia Temple in Ephesus, western villages of Tire and extend to Bozdağ, have fairly brought a holiness in Tire for hundreds of years. Richness of the Roman period is understood from the archaeological documents where some of the villages had constituted important settlements and which have been revealed hereabouts on the historical geography of Tire that belongs to this period. Among these settlement regions; Başköy (Uzgur), Akyurt (Zeamet Church), Hisarlık, Gökçen (Fota), Eskioba (Dormara - Almura), Büyükkale and Kürdüllü Villages shall particularly be indicated.
It is also specified in historical documents that the famous Roman Emperors Julius Caesar, Augustos and Trian had granted a part of Tire territories to the Artemisia Temple. The findings obtained from the lands of this temple have a wide place in Tire Museum.
It is also seen that Tire was represented in the Roman Senate with the name “Kaystros Senatorship”, in other words the Smaller Menderes Senatorship during the Roman period. During the Byzantine period that started afterwards, on the other hand, Kadıköy of İstanbul (formerly known as “Halkedon”) and İznik, Ayasofya in “Nikea” which was its former name and Tire in church boards proved that they were active, resolved cities having the appearance of a Christian city, in terms of especially forming Orthodoxy. Tire, which also had the right to vote in these consuls, had sustained this bright era throughout the history of the Byzantium.
Minarets dispreading through the sky
You can come across with a mosque in every street of Tire, where natural and historical texture is protected. Among the worship centres that embellish the district as the unique samples of the Ottoman architecture, Ulu Mosque, Gucur Mosque, Tahtakale Mosque, Yahşibey Mosque (Green Imaret), Karakadı Mecdettin Mosque, Kara Hasan Mosque, Yeni Mosque, Mehmet Bey Mosque, Paşa Mosque, Molla Arap Mosque, Hafsa Hatun Mosque and Yalınayak Mosque are the mosques you need to see. After all, a Tire journey during which you do not explore the mosques would come to mean an incomplete journey.
Social complex of Yoğurtluoğlu Mustafa Bey
Famous narrow streets of Tire which are surrounded by colourful Rum houses on both sides also take you to another historical structure that is as important as mosques. As you pass by the stone houses having small doors, young girls and ruddy-cheeked women interrupt their conversations and they never spare greetings from you, no matter familiar-foreign. These warm greetings remove the exhaustion of the slightly steep slope dispreading through Yoğurtluoğlu Social Complex in an instant. Yoğurtluoğlu Social Complex is a social complex that was built during the 15th century. If you ask about the social complex, which is named after its constructive, as Yavukluoğlu Mosque instead of Yoğurtluoğlu Social Complex, you will get better results.
In the eastern neighbouring of the mosque that is located in the southern part of Tire, there is a sundial and there are madrasah rooms in the east and the west. In the north, on the other hand, there is an observatory with iron, narrow stairways, where you will certainly want to climb out of curiosity, even though it is empty inside. Turning its back on the hillside and its face towards the old fashioned streets of the district, Yoğurtluoğlu Social Complex has been reopened to use as a worship centre, after a serious restoration work that was performed in 2005.
Book archive of the Ottomans
When you go downtown after visiting Yoğurtluoğlu Social Complex, take your road to the historical Necip Paşa Library which keeps thousands of precious books, this time. Necip Paşa Library of the Foundation of Tire, which was constructed with the Classical Ottoman architectural style, was built by Necip Paşa who was one of the statesmen during the Second Mahmut, in 1826. It is accepted as one of the private library samples that started with Köprülü. Necip Paşa Library, which was restored in 1996, keeps totally 12 thousand 695 books, 2 thousand 283 of which belong to the Ottoman period, 2 thousand 216 of which are manuscript and a thousand 136 of which are precious printed works. In the rich library which is intensely used especially by students during the working hours on weekdays, “Healing Book” by the great Islamic scholar İbn-i Sina, “Pinnacle” by Katip Çelebi which is one of the first printed works printed by İbrahim Müteferrika, “Genealogy of Numaniye” by İbn-i Arabi and again, “Sign” by İbn-i Sina that was copied with manuscript in 1160 and Manuscript Korans are among the spectacular works among historical printings.
Of course, the history in Tire is not limited with the aforesaid works. You realize that you are in the richest city of Anatolia in whatever street you take your step. Rock Tombs of Kayıstiros, Kutu Inn, Abdüsselam (Ali Efe) Inn, Yeni (Mathius) Inn, Kurşunlu Inn (Bakır Inn), Çanakçı Masjid, Ali Han Masjid, Islamic Monastery of Kurt and Doğancıyan, Tahtakale Bazaar, Şemsi Masjid and Ayazma, Eski Yeni Turkish Bath, İbn-i Melek and Süleyman Shah Tomb, Ali Baba Lodge, Balım Sultan Tomb, Buğday Dede Masjid, Sire (Sır) Hatunlar Masjid, Alamadan Dede Tomb, Tahtakale Turkish Bath, Theos Mausoleum, Yalınayak Turkish Bath are the historical places which could be considered alternative. Şemsi Masjid and Ayazma is a structure to be emphasized. Because it is fairly a symbol of the tolerance of religions on the Aegean territories. Once upon a time, six storeys called ayazma, which provided water for caravans hundreds of years ago and which means cold water, used to be used as a church and upper part of the structure was used as a mosque. Church and mosque had served as a two-piece worship centre for the people of the region for long ages. Even though the upper part of the building that embellishes the view of Derekahve, being used as a mosque has been restored today, the ground floor has not been touched yet.
According to the registers, the City Bazaar of Tire was a Covered Bazaar quarter during the Byzantine Period. Reifchtal describes the Covered Bazaar as a structure of the 8th or the 9th century. It is understood that together with the conquest, Aydınoğulları embraced this bazaar as the centre. In short, while the Covered Bazaar neigborhood had the characteristic of the position of a “Market Place” during the 14th century, Beylik Devri Bazaar was the “Upper Market Place” which was the pre-Turkish bazaar of the city. This bazaar and market place, which are comprised towards north from the Byzantine Covered Bazaar neighbourhood, were also used by the Ottomans. The eight-domed Covered Bazaar had been the main bazaar of the city with its doors opening to four directions for hundreds of years. The Covered Bazaar has 28 shops in total.
The constitution around the Covered Bazaar had hanged down on the north, as from the Period of Beylics. Interestingly enough, the streets forming the east and west of Uzun Bazaar have perfect plan measures. The first Ottoman bazaar plan was put into practice by Halil Yahşi Bey and it is called Tahtakale Bazaar that has been active for 600 years.
In this beautiful district of the Aegean, Tire Museum should not be forgotten as well. Being an archaeological and ethnographic museum, Tire Museum was established by the Museum Branch of Tire Community Centre within Yahşibey Lodge that was built by Halil Yahşibey who was one of the commanders of the Second Murat, in 1935. Silver coins (mangır), that were issued in Tire Mint during the period of the Ottoman Empire, are among the precious pieces of the museum. Especially the ornamental coins are among the ones that are accepted to be very valuable among the Ottoman period coins. At this point, attention must be paid to the fact that Tire-mint coins have an important place in the esteemed collections of the world.
Movable cultural assets are exhibited in two galleries in the museum. In the Archeology Gallery, statues, grave stelas, marble table legs, marble and terra-cotta tombs, glass pieces, terra-cotta oil lamps, chronologically; coins, bronze oil lamps, electron and silver coins, terra-cotta sculpture pieces and children statues that belong to 3 thousand 500 Before Christ and the 1100s Anno Domini are exhibited. In the Ethnographic Gallery, on the other hand, manuscript Korans, writing gears, wedding chests, pattens, Turkish bath and healing cups, silver jewelleries for women, Europe-origin ceramics that were used during the Ottoman Period, warfare tools of various periods, wares of dervishes and Islamic monasteries, Çanakkale ceramics, paintings, carpets, rugs and stained-glass windows could be seen. In the museum, the bordered embroidery which is embroidered on black fabric with a silver tinsel and on which there is a scripture that follows as “Es Sultan Orhan İbni Osman” is yet another remarkable work.
Masters standing out against time
Since it is one of the oldest settlements of the Western Anatolia, Tire has a rich cultural background. The fact that the city is not located near main roads has also been effective upon the protection of characteristics that involve various fields of the Turkish culture. When the rich tribe and nomad group settlements of the city were added to this during the first periods, the distinctive structure of the Turkish culture in handicrafts has been able to come until today without losing its essence.
Once you enter the bazaar of Tire, you come across with handicraft masters on every corner who can be counted on the fingers of one hand, moreover, some of whom could be considered unique in Turkey and the world. The works of rope, saddle, felting, quilt, straw, patten, saddler, Beledi weaving and lace are considered to be the elements of the cultural background of the Turkish culture that do not become old but cannot unfortunately be encountered too much today.
In the naphthalene-scented alleys which cannot be destroyed by the modern life, you suddenly come across with an old man who makes colourful saddles in his shop. You don’t have to buy something, just ask him how he is doing and he will – even though he experiences the trouble of bare living – welcome you with all his favour among the arranged saddles. He tells about how the paillasses, that once used to be placed on the seat of honour of the couch in every house, cannot find a place for themselves on modern sofas, with a slight complaint. When you get out of there, be a guest in the shop of the rope-maker Rıfat Göbekli. Ask him and he will tell you the difficulty of his job and you will understand how important it is to protect our cultural values.
The feltings of the young Arif Cön have a distinct place in handicrafts. Even though the master of Tire, Arif Cön, whose feltings are exhibited in İstanbul Topkapı Palace and London British Museum, is a graduate of Karadeniz Technical University, Department of Business, he is so sensitive to his city and country that he does not let the art of felting he had learned from his grandfather become ownerless.
“Beledi Weaving”, which is among these manufactures and has been identified with Tire, should not be forgotten as well. The loom master, Ethem Tıpırdık, who has taken the torch from his father stands by the only Beledi weaving loom of the world today. This weaving, which has been used by the people of Tire as quilt, pillow and cushion linens for hundreds of years, was also manufactured as curtain and bed lining. The use of “breechcloth” by the women in urban and plain villages and a weaving type called “forecloth” by the women in mountain villages is yet another indicator of the popularity of looms in the history of Tire. From house and bath towels to napkins and topcoats, the richness of weaving seems to have left a mark on Tire since the 15th century. Especially the weaving that is known as “Tire Napkin” even has a place in the Ottoman literature.
The fact that handicrafts in Tire has been able to reach until today without losing the specific structure of the Turkish culture makes us happy. Tire represents that the way of stringing along with the new is through keeping the old alive, with all its values.
Heritage from Jews to Tire
Don’t be surprised if you see men playing a weird game with little marble balls in their hands in Alay Park, while rambling in the streets of Tire. The game they play is ‘cannon’ that has existed for 500 years. The cannon game, which is known by approximately 200 people today, is actually a culture inherited from the Jews who had been deported to Tire from Spain. The game, which is considered to be among values sinking into oblivion and also called ‘lek’, used to be played in Ödemiş, Bayındır and Tire frequently in the past; but now, it is only played in Tire. In order to prevent this traditional game from disappearing, Tire Municipality has advertised on the internet site and also built a pitch in the city centre. Today, especially the people in the middle age group play this game with a great solemnity at every hour of the day, in the cannon pitch of Alay Park. During the game, balls are directed to the target with a special shoot technique that is developed through using the fingers. The most acceptable of the balls called “marble” are the ones that are produced from the buxus tree, because, as buxus tree is a very stable tree, a marble can be used for approximately 50-60 years. Additionally, small targets that are produced from four pieces of wood called “lek” and put in the pitch at certain intervals are also used. The players maintain their marbles through polishing them with a velvet linen or resting them in olive oil for a few days from time to time. The cannon, which is played on a polished concrete ground having the size of 4x12 meters called pitch, is played by two people or four people as paired. The players start the game by throwing their marbles from the starting band on side of the pitch, in order to shoot the leks by turns. The purpose of the game is based on shooting one of the leks and constantly keeping the turn.
What to eat?
The historical background of Tire reveals itself in its cuisine as well. The savoury visuality of the district bazaar that is established on Tuesdays is an indicator of this richness. Dishes with plants surely play the leading role in Tire cuisine, just like in the whole Aegean. Ivy, tilkicek, mallow, iğnelik, şıngıldak, nettle, cibez, turp otu, thistle, blessed thistle, helvacık, ballık, chicory, patience dock, urgancık, tiksincik, kapurcuk, arapsaçı, common plantain, endive, sinapis, chenopodium album, black nightshade, gaymecik, chard, eşek helvası, melengeç, zil can, portulaca, pepperweed, dill, gerdeme and many more are among the plants consumed by the people of Tire. These plants, whose names make your face happy and whose flavours make your stomach happy, come to your table as salad and in a fried way, or without being processed with their most delicious features.
Another symbol of the cuisine of the pretty district of Aegean is the Tire meat ball, which has become famous across Turkey… When Tire meat ball, in which no spice is used except for salt and which is made from the best parts of the red meat such as breast and back, combines with pure butter, it leaves an unforgettable taste in the mouth. You can find the Tire meat ball in many restaurants in the district centre.
For the dishes with plants that become an inspiration source for the healthy Aegean cuisine, on the other hand, your address shall be Kaplan Mevki. In the green Kaplan that is located above the mill where you can watch the best Tire scenery, it is possible to find many kinds of dishes with olive oil and plants. Sura, Kapama, Gıylangı, Mustafa Soup, Heybeli Soup, Posalı Fried Meat, Rolled Pastry, Albanian Liver, Gazel Food, Keppat Jam are among other flavours of Tire cuisine that should be tried.
How to go?
It is very easy to access to Tire after coming to İzmir by air. If you come by private car, the road of İzmir-Tire takes about an hour. On the other hand, the district could be accessed within 1,5-2 hours by buses. Regular bus services are arranged by S.S. Tire Buses Passenger Transportation Coop. in connection with İzmir Bus Terminal from Gaziemir every day. You can also go to Tire by train with a nostalgic travel. For the train services called Rail Bus, you can obtain detailed information from the web site www.tcdd.gov.tr of the State Railways.
Do not return before!
- Hanging about Tire bazaar place that is established on Tuesdays, buying fresh plants and vegetables,
- Accessing to Yoğurtluoğlu Social Complex via the narrow, rough, and yet joyous road,
- Taking a look at precious manuscripts, books on the dusty shelves of Necip Paşa Library,
- Stopping by the shops of handicraft masters and watching their works with admiration,
- Sipping a cup of tea in Derekahve on a sunny day,
- Of course, tasting the traditional Tire cuisine, primarily Tire meat ball and healthy dishes with plants.