The early settlements in Kusadasi is by the Lelegians and Carians who moved from the central Anatolia around the year of 3000BC. They were the establishers of a colony on the skirts of Pilav Mountain in Kusadasi, and founded the cities Ania and Melia. Mild climate allowed the inhabitants to grow essential products such as olive, grape and figs for extracting oil or making wine and sweets on the fertile lands around the city.
In the 10th century BC “12 Ionian Cities” Samos, Khios, Miletos, Priene, Ephesus, Teos, Erythrai, Priena, Klazonemi, Lebedos, Phokaia, Colophon, Smyrna, were established and reputed for the most developed cities of that age. Asthe annual meeting place of the Ionian League, Panionian, was founded around Kusadasi; the cities of Phygale, Marathesion and Neopolis were established within the borders of the city. During the period, the ports of Phygale and Neopolis were not busy and necessary, as they were close to the famous trading centers and ports, Miletos and Ephesus.
The city was invaded by Persians around the year of 546BC. In 200BC Kusadasi and its environs were dominated by the Roman Empire, and with the division of the Roman Empire, became a state of Byzantine. As the changes in climate caused serious earthquakes and changed the route of Caystros River, Ephesus was mostly destroyed and lost its prior importance and prosperity. The result had forced Byzantines to search for a new port and a new road that would be suitable for trading.The area around Neopolis was found convenient by the Greek, Jewish, and Armenian merchants as a port in place of the port of Ephesus. “Scala Nova” was the name of this new port which added a new trading center to the prior historical cities such as Ania, Melia, Phygale and Neopolis, that have created the early foundations of today’s Kusadasi. By the coming of the 15th century, “Scala Nova” was under the domination of the Venetian and Genoese sailors and traders who established consulates here.
The Turkish domination in the area entered upon the invasion of Seljukian Kilic Arslan the 2nd. The advantageous position of Kusadasi as its being at the end of the important trade roads such as Silk Road -once held by Ephesus, influenced the development of the city in trading, positively.
Kusadasi began to be ruled by the Ottoman Empire after the invasion of Sultan Mehmet Celebi in the year of 1413. During the reign of Ottomans, Kusadasi was introduced to glorious structures, giving a new look to its former spectacular view. Okuz Mehmet Pasa Caravanserai is the principal of Ottoman architecture in the city, was built by the man of the same name, who was the vizier during the reigns of Sultan Ahmet1 and Osman2. The fortress gates &walls and many mosques in the center of Kusadasi, as well as the citadel of the castle in Pigeon Island, were built in the Ottoman period, reflecting the architectural style of the era. “Kusadasi” that means “bird island” took its name from the Pigeon Island.
After the First World War, Kusadasi was invaded by the Greeks (1919). The city won a long struggle for in 1922 and became a part of Turkish Republic. Izmir was the capital of Kusadasi until 1954. Then the capital was changed to Aydin and the city of Kusadasi has shown a good deal of development, especially in tourism.
Today, Kusadasi is one of Turkey’s most sophisticated holiday centers; a perfect place for vacation with its sandy beaches and glassy water. The contrast of the lively holiday life with the quietness of ancient ruins create the special atmosphere of the city.
More than 100 festivals are organized in Turkey every year. Along with the local festivals organized in almost every city of the country, international culture and art festivals are also held in major cities such as Istanbul, Ankara, Izmir and Antalya. Istanbul is the most important centre of international culture and art festivals and sponsored festivals.
The Istanbul Culture and Art Foundation organizes the International Istanbul Film Festival every April, the International Istanbul Theatre Festival every May, the International Istanbul Music Festival every June and July, the International Istanbul Jazz Festival every July and the International Biennial once every two years. Within the framework of these festivals, hundreds of renowned performing artists and musicians from all over the world gather in Istanbul, adding further colour and cultural lustre to a city which is famous for its historical and cultural richness.
In the summer months, a number of annual music festivals are sponsored by some prominent Turkish corporations. The Pamukbank Dance Days, which brings world-famous dance groups to Istanbul, the Efes Pilsen Blues Festival which has been organized for over ten years and hosts well-known groups, the Akbank International Jazz Festival, during which Turkish musicians and the jazz masters of the world meet, the Yapi Kredi Art Festival, which has the characteristics of “one-year-festival”, with its activities from Rock and Roll and pop to classic music and jazz spreading all year and the Fujifilm World Music Days are the most important of these music festivals.
In the capital city, Ankara, the International Ankara Music Festival is organized bye Sevda Cenap And Foundation every year in April-May. This festival which is a member of the European Festivals Union and of which the 16th was organized in 1999, has hosted over 8000 famous artists up until today. Moreover, the Turkish Choruses Festivity, which is organized by Polyphonic Choruses Association established with the objective of spreading polyphonic music in the country, brings together thousands of music lovers, with its increasing number of invited choruses and listener capacity every year.
The International Izmir Festival, which is organized every year by the Izmir Culture, Art and Education Foundation. The 16th year of the festival was celebrated in the year 2000, which was held in historical places such as the Efes Antic Theatre, the Celcius Library and the House of the Virgin Mary and, as it is the case every year, world-famous artists and groups in the branches of orchestra concerts, chamber music, ballet, theatre, jazz and pop participated in the event. Additionally, the 7th Aspendos Opera and Ballet Festival, which attracts about 80,000 people every year, was held in the year 2000.
The Bilkent International Anatolia Music Festival, which is one of the most important organizations calling from Turkey to the
world, for friendship and peace through the language of music, carries the magical rhythm of the classical music to various regions of Anatolia throughout a month every year. This festival, which is the first of its kind among international festivals in its mobile character and who walked around Anatolia step by step, celebrate its 6th year in 1999.
The oldest film festival in Turkey is the Antalya Film Festival. This festival which celebrated its 40th year in 2000, is sometimes referred to as “the Oscar of the Turkish film industry”. The International Ankara Film Festival and the Adana Altin Koza Film Festival are two other important film festivals which attract the cinema-lovers of Turkey. Film weeks are also organized in many other cities.
Among other festivals organized in Turkey every year are the Traditional Mesir Festival in Manisa, the International Music and Folklore Festival in Adana, the Cesme Music Festival in Cesme, the Ceramic Festival in Kutahya, the Hittite Festival in Corum, the GAP Culture and Art Festival in Gaziantep and the Kemer Carnival in Kemer.
KUSADASI FESTIVALS: Gold Pigeon Music Festival is a popular contest for amateur and professional Turkish musicians and
interesting with its funny shows and concerts, performed on the last week of June. The interesting Camel Wrestling Festival is performed in Selcuk-20km north of Kusadasi, in January every year. International Izmir Festival is a sophisticated one, attracted by both participants and visitors in June and July. Also, the Feast of Assumption at the House of Virgin Mary is celebrated in August every year.