420km (261 miles) to Istanbul; 90km (56 miles) south of Çanakkale; 65km (40 miles) south of Troy; 160km (99 miles) north of Bergama; 250km (155 miles) north of Izmir
Several years ago, Jacque Avizou (of Les Maisons de Cappadoce, in Cappadocia) confided in me about a "little paradise" that he described as Turkey's "best-kept secret." He told me it was located far enough off the primary road system to ensure that it remained off the tourist radar, a tiny settlement of Anatolian families living atop the lofty ruins of an ancient commercial and religious center. I was intrigued and set out to plan an entire week's itinerary around the little Aegean village of Behramkale, also known by the name of the ancient city it stands on, Assos.
Physically, the village of Assos/Behramkale (which I will from now on call Assos for brevity's sake) occupies the site of a conical volcanic rock on the south-facing shores of the Bay of Edremit. The Acropolis, surrounded by a 3km-long (1 3/4-mile) defensive wall, is crowned by the Temple of Athena, placed artfully, advantageously, and tactically high above the expansive Valley of the Satnioeis and the bay. The agora, gymnasium, and theater, all still in continuing stages of excavation, are terraced down the steep slopes of the rocky landscape, making a visit to the far-flung sections of the city not just a little bit of a workout. At the base of the city (reachable via a steeply cobbled roadway) is a tiny port made up of a single breakwater and a handful of stone warehouses converted into guest accommodations and waterfront restaurants. The moonlight reflecting off of the tranquil waters of the Aegean is even more romantic when you consider that this same setting served as inspiration for Aristotle during his 3-year sabbatical at Assos. Frankly, Assos has already been discovered, but is thankfully nowhere near overrun. The day that happens, though, it'll be a tight squeeze, because thanks to kryptonite-like volcanic rock upon which the village is built there's not much room -- at least at the wharf -- for this little village to grow.