We first introduced ourselves to the wonderfully pretty village of Şirince when we were exploring the ancient city of Ephesus and surrounding archaeological sites way back in 2003.
It was supposed to be a day trip from our little pension in the nearby town of Selçuk.
But we completely and unexpectedly fell for the place and didn’t want to leave so soon.
We found ourselves a small pension amongst the huddle of terrace houses that climb up the hillside and booked an overnight stay.
A return to the area some years later meant we also had to return to Şirince village (Şirince Köyü in Turkish or Kirkintzes (Κιρκιντζές) in Greek) to see if that charm was still there.
Would those same feelings once again wash over us as we wandered the narrow streets of the village with its old Greek houses; terracotta tiled roofs and shuttered windows?
Exploring Şirince Village
A small village, Şirince sits on a hillside around 8 kilometres from the town of Selçuk. It really is a must visit if you’re exploring the area.
As picturesque, beautiful places go, Şirince village is right up there.
Like Kayaköy, above our hometown of Fethiye in southwest Turkey, Şirince was a Greek village until just after the fall of the Ottoman Empire.
In 1923, following the Turkish War of Independence, it was agreed that there would be an exchange of populations whereby Greeks in Turkey would go to Greece and Turks in Greece would relocate to Turkey.
Whilst Kayaköy became an abandoned ghost village, Şirince was populated with Turks from northern Greece. (If you know the city of Thessaloniki or towns like nearby Xanthi, you will see similarities in the architecture of the traditional homes in Şirince.)
And what we see today when we visit the area and wander through the lanes of traditional houses is a mix of Turkish and Greek culture.
What To See & Do In Şirince
We love to just wander around Şirince village. It’s car-free – but you will see the odd tractor winding its way through the narrow, cobbled alleyways.
And, as you climb amongst the houses, little souvenir shops and boutique hotels, lush green scenic vistas occasionally reveal themselves.
Houses stacked up the hillside, olive groves and orchards of fruit trees stretching out into the distance.
Because Şirince is particularly famous for two products: olive oil and wine houses that produce local wines with distinctly sweet, fruity flavours.
If you visit Şirince village, make sure you take part in a bit of wine tasting. And make the olive oil and local wines part of your purchases.
The village is synonymous with wine production and wine tasting. It’s arguably the main attraction of Şirince for many tourists.
The first time we went there, once Turkish friends found out where we were, we were flooded with requests to bring some wine back to Fethiye.
We bought two bottles for ourselves, too. We’ll be honest; these different kinds of fruit wines are not a type of wine that’s really to our taste. But it’s much loved by many.
These days, some Şirince wines are available in the bigger supermarkets around the country. But it’s always nicer to buy direct from the local wine houses.
And Coffee, Too
Whilst olive oil purchases and wine tasting should be part of your activities whilst exploring Şirince, there is now also another popular pastime…
Sit back and enjoy a cup of Turkish coffee in one of the small cafes that specialise in its preparation.
For this is no ordinary cup of Turkish coffee. For setting, Şirince village has got to be one of the best places where you can sit around the pit of hot sand and watch your coffee being prepared.
It’s quite something to witness the cezve being embedded into the sand and then watch the coffee bubbling to the top as it heats!
All to be enjoyed with a sweet side dish of delicious lokum (Turkish delight) of course.
A small open market bazaar area tempts souvenir shoppers with various handicrafts made by local people.
We’re not the best at souvenir shopping, preferring instead to hunt out foodstuffs.
Şirince village doesn’t disappoint in this department, thankfully, with homemade jams and pekmez (fruit molasses) and oils to tempt.
Exploring Şirince’s Past
The village’s name, Sirince, suits this village perfectly. It means, ‘pleasant,’ ‘lovely,’ ‘sweet.’
When you first set eyes on this place, we’re sure you’ll agree with us.
This name is relatively recent, however. Before 1926, the year the Governor of Izmir changed the name of the village, it was called Çirkince, meaning ‘ugly’ or ‘unsightly.’
The absolute opposite of what this village is!
There are different stories surrounding the reasons why Çirkince was the pre-1926 name.
One theory is that the village was settled by freed Greek slaves who wanted to deter others from following them and so chose this name.
If this is the case, maybe they had foresight. These days, few people – including ourselves – are deterred from wandering up to this village.
But more of that in a moment. Back to the past, for now…
Whilst archaeologists have found pottery dating back to ancient times, much of what you will see in Şirince village is Ottoman Christian architecture – Şirince is an old Orthodox village.
As well as the architecture of the homes – many of which are now boutique hotels and guest houses, this is evident by the presence of two churches.
Church of St. Dimitrios
We missed the Church of St. Dimitrios during our first visit to Şirince village. But on our second visit, we stopped by an old local guy as we walked along the lanes.
He pointed up the hill and told us to head to the church.
Built in the 19th Century, the building has undergone recent restoration. This was yet to happen on our most recent visit but we still got to witness the beautiful frescoes inside.
And, as you might expect from making the effort to climb uphill, you are also rewarded with views of the stunning scenery of this area.
Olive trees and rolling hills – we love the greenery of this hinterland.
St. John The Baptist Church
Built in 1805, the Church of St. John The Baptist was the most important of the two churches. The building is beautifully restored.
On the day we visited, the church was housing an exhibition of photographs. Each photo was of a lady of the village which highlighted their role in the local community and the crafting they specialised in.
Şirince is a popular attraction and gets very busy during the summer months.
It can be easy to lose sight of the fact that it is an authentic village with people living and working here.
This exhibition was an appreciation of the work these women do. And a good reminder for us as visitors of the working life of the residents.
And, if you’re superstitious and have a few Turkish Lira coins going spare, you can drop them into the wishing well outside the church and make your wish.
It’s easily spotted as it’s topped with a statue of the Virgin Mary.
How Best To Experience Şirince Village
Somewhere as picture postcard pretty as Şirince village with its proximity to such famous archaeological sites as Ephesus, St. John’s Basilica and the house of Virgin Mary, is always going to attract a multitude of visitors.
In high summer season, domestic and foreign tourists make their way up the winding road to this hillside idyll.
At weekends, especially, locals will head to Şirince village for the day; taking their time over a leisurely Turkish breakfast with family and friends.
If you’re looking for that more authentic village atmosphere, a weekday in spring and autumn are better times to visit Şirince.
If possible, book a night in one of the many guest houses and head there under your own steam by dolmuş from the otogar (bus station) in Selçuk town centre.
Yes, you will still be part of the tourist crowds. But as the sun sets and the big buses make their way back down the hill, away from Şirince, you will be able to bask in hillside village tranquility.
Order some traditional Turkish food at one of the restaurants. Drink the local Şirince wines. Sleep in one of the historic Greek houses.
And then you can wake up early morning and take a walk in your lush, green surroundings before enjoying a village breakfast and heading out of the area as the tour groups once more descend on the village.
Experience Şirince village like this and we’re sure you’ll fall for this place as much as we have.
Şirince Village – FAQs
If we’ve piqued your interest in Şirince, here’s a few questions answered.
We hope our article above has shown that that is a very definite yes. We recommend an overnight stay so that you can soak up the Turkish village atmosphere.
From Selçuk bus station, there is a regular dolmuş (minibus) that plies the route to Şirince. The dolmuş will drop you at the village entrance.
If you are driving, cars are not allowed in the village so you need to park at one of the car parks outside.
Şirince is often included as part of the itinerary for private tours of the area.
Şirince village lies in the Izmir Province of western Turkey. It is around 8 kilometres from the nearest town of Selçuk and the ruins of Ephesus (see map above).
The city of Izmir is 85 kilometres to the northeast whilst the popular resort of Kuşadası is 26 kilometres to the southwest.
The nearest airport to Şirince is Izmir Adnan Menderes Airport.
You can get from Izmir by bus or train to Selçuk town centre and then take a dolmuş to Şirince village from there.
Yes. Şirince is a real working village with a population of around 600 people. Most of the residents work in agriculture or tourism.
The population of Şirince swells considerably in the daytimes, especially in the summer season and at weekends.