[Summer Travel Series]: Apollonia, Apolyont, or Golyazi

I asked my fiancée whether he was up for a road trip on a flaming hot Sunday, and he said “why not”; so, we found some comfort in the air conditioning of his car and drove to what was called in the ancient time, the peninsula of Apollonia. Before I walk you through this small village that resides on the western shore of Lake Uluabat, a little history lesson shall be covered.

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‘Til I get a drone, thank you, Pinterest.

The History of the Peninsula

Due to the coins from as early as 450 BCE that were discovered in Apollonia, it is believed that the village was founded by Miletus in the ancient times. Some believe that the anchor symbol on the coin has something to do with its given name, others speak of a tale: The Bergama King Attalos II. gave the name of Queen Apollonis to the village. In the luwi language apa means water, ull means bushes, and wana means God; hence, the name resembles a combination of all. In ancient times, there were 9 other cities named Apollonia so, some refer to the village as Apolyont to distinguish it alongside its water source.

During its long history, Apollonia was under the control of the Byzantine Empire. However, Ottoman claimed the land in the 14th century; the architecture alongside the water carries the clashing influence of both cultures. Today, Apollonia is referred to as Golyazi (meaning ‘fisherwoman’) by the Nilufer Municipality of Bursa, and it’s both a historic site and home to its fishermen and villagers.

Before I forget, many thanks to my personal photographer Oğuzhan Tiryaki for capturing this authentic village, and helping me overcome my writer’s block without even realizing it. I might keep you full time.

The Tour Guide

  1. St. Panteleimon Church
  2. The Weeping Plane
  3. The Golyazi Lake
  4. Greek Ruins
  5. Ethnic Food

St. Panteleimon Church

On the weekend, visiting cars are not allowed to travel within the village; so, visitors leave their cars in the parking space by the lakeside and get walking. We visited on Sunday, so the situation was not different; We walked along the streets full of colorful Rum (Anatolian-Greek) houses that are preserved today as they once were. Following the route, we also passed by an abandoned rusty mill and a well-organized cemetery. Soaking up the sun, we arrived at the St. Panteleimon Church.

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St. Panteleimon Church is the only church with remains that survived in Golyazi. It is one of the most important examples of Greek architecture. The rails used within the building suggest that it may be the product of the 19th century. Today, the church serves as a cultural center for the Golyazi residents (which includes a library, gallery, and offers public classes, and other events). The church was closed due to COVID-19 since March for about 5 months. There isn’t a certain date for reopening yet; however, it is as beautiful of a building to simply admire from the outside.

 

The Weeping Plane

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Located in the center of the village alongside the handmade jewelry and fruit stands is the giant plane tree. The 755-year-old tree has long branches that cover the whole central square, creating a natural cooling area for the visitors. The locals refer to the tree as the weeping plane because of the sad love story it is associated with. It goes like this:

When Rums and Turks lived in the village together, a Turkish boy named Mehmet and a Rum girl Eleni fell deeply in love. During the Turkish War of Independence, it was ordered for Rums to return to Greece, and likewise, Turks to replace them in the village. When Mehmet heard about the news, he went to Eleni’s brothers to find her. They were hostile towards him and Eleni’s brother Yorgi cut scars on Mehmet’s body with a knife. Then, the bleeding boy rested in the plane tree’s hollow, which was the place where he and Eleni met. Eleni killed herself when she found her lover’s dead body sometime later. It is said that the tree weeps blood at uncertain times.

 

The Golyazi Lake

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After enjoying the lovely breeze by the weeping plane, we decided to have a look at the fishing boats. It was only a matter of time until we took off with one so, a fisherman offered to give us a ride that follows the shape of the peninsula. Don’t you worry, the tours are not free; but they are cheap: 15 minutes for 30 TL (4 dollars) or 30 mins for 50 TL (7-8 dollars) for a boat of your own. Couples also rent boats for themselves and their photographers here for their engagement pictures. It’s a cute idea so keep it in mind!

The tour went beautifully. We got a good view of the Greek Ruins that were scattered along the lakeside, observed water lilies and birds that I could swear I’ve never seen in my life. It is good to note though, the water lilies open up in the earlier hours of the morning. There’s a chance that you won’t be seeing them in the afternoon as they’d be resting! I saved the best to the last, going through the reed field in a boat made me feel like I was in a western movie or Bali? Surely, those two are similar examples.

As you can tell, I found peace in listening to the loud noise of the boat engine on the lake. If you visit Golyazi and tell me you are doing one thing, I hope it is going to the lake!

Greek Ruins

The historians state that the ruins belonged to the Apollonia-on-the-Rhyndacus colony and survived to this day. A short walk from the weeping plane, you can see the very first bit of the Greek ruins across the central bridge; this is the most significant and large one to see. However, there are more pieces of the wall across the peninsula that oversee the waters. If you are up for it, it’s an opportunity to play scavenger hunt and see all of them!

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Ethnic Food

Every time I visit a historical place, I eat gozleme. If you’ve been reading the blog for a while, you’ll notice that’s a thing I do. In fact, when I went to Antalya a while back, I talked about it here. What is gozleme? Let me try again, a thin pastry that evokes happy feelings from your childhood; it can be filled with ground meat, cheese, and potatoes. This time Mr. fiancée and I went with the potatoes (his personal favorite). You can never go wrong with ordering gozleme because it cannot taste bad, trust me. So, no names of a particular restaurant for this one.

Golyazi is also famous for its lake fish. While I hadn’t tried any, the two local options are pike fish and catfish; both are traditionally served fried. I’ll leave a trusty restaurant that was recommended by friends here. If you are looking for a fancier atmosphere, there are also old lodges you can eat and be merry by the lakeside.


I apologize for the lack of new content on the blog lately. I’ll talk about the why a little later, but I am hoping this is a turning point. I hope you liked the post, and you have your own getaway from the urban way of living once in a while. Surely, the breeze washed away some of my worries. Has COVID-19 affected your travel plans or have you already been traveling this summer? Comment down below!

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