Modern-day Foça is located on the site of the ancient city of Phocaea (Phokaia), an important Ionian city founded in the 11th century B.C. In fact, evidence suggests that the area has been inhabited for at least 5,000 years. One of the most significant features of Foça’s archaeological heritage is the temple of Athena, which was built on the site of a temple of Cybele at the centre of Foça’s natural harbour and is the oldest Ionian temple to have been discovered to date. In the 13th century, Foça became a Genoese trading colony, and the well-preserved city walls from this period earned Foça a place on UNESCO’s temporary list of world heritage in 2013. In fact, Foça’s city walls are an amalgam of Ionian, Byzantine, Genoese and Ottoman design that have been carefully restored using the same construction techniques as the original builders. The section of walls in the centre of the town’s twin harbour is fronted by a promenade with 16 arches that form part of a designated walking route for tourists. Visitors to Foça enjoy strolling along this waterfront “cordon” as well along the town’s backstreets, where the 19th and early 20th century stone mansions exude a sense of the town’s more recent history.
In addition to its important role in history, Foça has environmental significance as home to a number of endangered species, including the Mediterranean Monk Seal (“fok”) from which the town takes its name. Foça has been classified as a Marine Coastal Protected Area since 1990, which has helped it to avoid the problems of mass tourism and maintain its charm as a working fishing village, where the day’s catch is served up at the fish restaurants lining the harbour. While small hotels in the centre of town cater to summer holidaymakers wishing to enjoy the crystal-clear seas of the Aegean, the town’s welcoming environment makes it a year-round attraction for day-trippers from Izmir, the closest urban centre.
To find out more about the historical attractions of Foça, click here.
For a guide to hotels, pensions, activities and events, click here.