Located on Turkey’s Aegean coast, Kusadasi is a small seaside town whose permanent population of approximately 65’000 swells to over half a million in the summer when the resorts and nearby water parks fill with tourists from abroad – as well as Turkey itself.
And specifically thanks to a controversial deal struck in 2003 which leased a previously public-owned port to a private company in order to renovate the facilities to attract luxury cruise lines, Kusadasi is now a major port of call for cruise ships, supported by a six-lane highway linked up to the Adnan Menderes Airport.
When you consider that the bus network connects with various parts of the country, and that there’s a daily ferry service to the nearby Greek island of Samos, Kusadasi is an ideal location to explore Turkey and the surrounding Aegean coast from. Derived from the words ‘Kus’ (meaning bird) and ‘Ada’ (meaning island), Kusadasi is literally translated to mean Bird Island – attributed to the bird head-like shape of the peninsula, originally coined in the early 1800’s after the Ottomans rebuilt/expanded the castle and garrison, but not officially adopted until the beginning of the 1900’s. Locals however often just shorten it to Ada.
The area has been the centre of art and culture to many civilizations over the millennium – known as Ephesus Neopolis during Byzantine times and Scala Nova/Scala Nuova under the Genovese and Venetians – having been settled numerous times since the original settlement of the Leleges people in 3000 BCE.