Living in Izmir, it never ceases to amaze me of how many wonderful historical and natural sites exist in the city and its surrounding territories. Most people correlate Turkey’s amazing wonders with Istanbul, but Izmir has a great wealth to offer as well. One of the latest offerings is rather ancient. In 2008, Izmir opened up what is believed to be the birthplace of Homer (Homeros in Greek), the Ancient Greek philosopher and historian.
Recently I took a trip to the Homeros Valley, or simply Homer’s Valley, which is located roughly 30 minutes outside downtown Izmir. The disclaimer however is that there are several sites in the Aegean which claim to be the birthplace of Homer, to which Turkey has pushed hard to affirm this claim in their city. Whether it is or not doesn’t really matter, because the trek is a fantastic experience.
Located within the outer laying hills of Izmir’s Bornova district, the trek involves driving through several winding roads, which offer a fantastic view of the entire city of Izmir. A must-do is to park alongside the road to stop and take pictures. The view is breathtaking.
Following the signs to Homeros, you will descend into the first valley, which is not Homeros. It constists of a small reservoir with a waterfall, a large picnic area (piknik alani in Turkish) and some short trekking paths. It is a fine place to stop and eat, where you can relax and even grill food. One note: when grilling in Turkey, it is customary for people within other groups to come over and offer food that they are grilling. It is a wonderful way to experience the hospitality, as well as break the barriers of your traveling neighbors.
After you finish picnicking, keep on driving towards Homeros (signs will guide you), which involve ascending uphill upon a steep road. Once you make it up the hill, you will pass through a small village and begin to descend again to the Homeros Valley. As your driving, look out for a rocky hill showcasing 3 caves, because once you do, you will know you are on the right path. The exact area of Homeros Valley is located in the village of Kayadibi.
If traveling to Homeros Valley, there are different two routes to take. After passing through Bornova’s center, and through Kizilay, Atatürk, İnönü and Evka-4, you will hit the valley after 5 kilometers, near Egridere and Çamiçi village road. The alternative route is through Bornova and Ergene district, where you will pass through the Suga Soda Water Factory and Kayadibi Village, to which the valley is located roughly 7 kilometers further.
When you reach the location, you can park the car and walk your way up the hill to the caves. Although the caves are empty, they offer a beautiful view of the entire valley and make for great photos to show to your friends and family. There are some Greek inscriptions on the rocks, however, we couldn’t tell if they were authentic or not. As a Greek myself, along with another Greek friend, our gut feeling told us it was not as old as the date inscribed said it was (1904).
After the long trek through hills and valleys, make your back up and stop at Kuzuoglu Restaurant (Tel: 0232-351-3477). The restaurant is fairly new, very clean, offering fantastic fresh foods for as low as 10-15TL per person. As you eat, you can look amongst the entire city of Izmir. Yet again, another great reason to live in Izmir.