Not far from Ephesus, Turkey’s most famous ancient site, in the province of Izmir lies the small mountain village of Şirince. Its name translates as “pretty” or “cute ” – so fitting and wonderful for this enchanting place. There we found the romantic boutique hideaway
The village of Sirince
Until 1924, the small town situated in a hollow between olive groves and vineyards was inhabited exclusively by Anatolian Greeks, the so-called Rum . When a population exchange took place between the newly founded Turkish Republic and Greece after the War of Liberation, the Greeks who had lived here for centuries left their homeland.
Instead, Turks from Crete, Thessaloniki and Western Thrace were settled in Şirince. This is why Greek and Turkish culture are still combined here today to create the very special charm of this area.
The story of Nisanyan
In the early 1990s, Sevan Nişanyan, an intellectual from Istanbul, and his partner Müjde Tönbekici discovered the beauty of Şirince. They quickly fell in love with the special atmosphere on this piece of earth. They bought a former stable on the hillside in the upper part of the village, converted it into a stylish country house and settled down. It is thanks to their commitment that the village was placed under a preservation order, preventing the construction of modern concrete houses.
The two churches have been restored and the tradition of wine production once cultivated by the Greeks has been resumed. Word of the tranquil village in the mountains, where hospitable locals offer visitors wine, spread like wildfire, first in Izmir and then throughout Turkey. Finally, thanks to its proximity to Ephesus, Şirince was included as a side trip in most tours of Turkey organized by foreign tour operators. From April to the end of October, many hundreds of Germans, English and French people, as well as Koreans and Chinese, flock to Şirince every day.
The Nisanyan Hotel
High above the houses on the hillside is the
Nişanyan Houses Hotel
completely secluded from the hustle and bustle. An oasis of peace that can only be reached via an unpaved forest path with all kinds of potholes. Passing plane trees and cypresses, you enter through a gate to “paradise”.
A snail greets you at the entrance, a symbol that the clocks on Nişanyan tick more slowly. If you reach the Nişanyan Houses in the late afternoon, it’s best to head straight to the panoramic terrace, have a gin and tonic or a freshly squeezed juice from their own orchard served and feel the process of slowing down begin after a short time. Stress? What was that again? The fantastic view of the historic village and the Arcadian landscape all around will make you forget the time.
Curling up with a book in one of the cozy corners (of which there is a good selection in the in-house library), being massaged in the small Turkish bath on the heated marble slab or dreaming away hours in a deckchair by the marble pool surrounded by trees and bushes and feeling the mixture of beauty and melancholy that Müjde was so inspired by on her first visit to Şirince – that’s all you need to be happy here.
“We wanted to create a place where we could accommodate our best friends”
, is how the landlady describes the concept of Nişanyan Houses. In fact, it feels less like a hotel and more like a visit to friends in the countryside. The staff at the family business undoubtedly play a large part in this – as do a few dogs, cats and the goats whose milk is used to make the farm’s own yoghurt.
Rooms & Chalets
There is a choice of five individually furnished rooms in the main building or in the tower house about 100 meters away. Two restored rum housesfor up to five people and seven cottages are scattered around the enchanted garden. (Don’t worry, the staff will carry your suitcases!) They have picturesque names such as “Indigo House”, “Pink House” or “House by the Pool”. There are deliberately no modern frills or TVs, but the furnishings and decor exude the cozy, opulent ambience of Anatolian country estates from the late 19th century. Air conditioning, internet and central heating are concessions to the comfort expectations of contemporary guests. If, like us, you prefer the nostalgia of the “good old days”, sit down in front of the burning fireplace with a glass of wine and play a game of backgammon…
Cooking courses at Nişanyan are a special experience because they start with harvesting fruit and vegetables and cutting fresh herbs in the hotel’s own garden! Heavenly dishes are created under the ceiling of the kitchen in the tower house, which is painted with flying putti – traditional Turkish specialties or international creations, depending on your preference.
A highlight: If you have become curious about everyday life in ancient times in the terraced houses of Ephesus, you can cook how the ancient Romans ate – according to recipes from a Roman cookbook.
NISANYAN HOUSES HOTEL
Sirince – Selçuk – Turkey
+90 (232) 898 3208 |