Ayvalık Ayvalık is a seaside resort town on the northwestern Aegean coast of Turkey and is a district of the Balıkesir Province.
It is situated on the Aegean Sea coast facing the Greek island of Lesbos. It sits on a narrow coastal plain surrounded by low hills to the east which are covered with pine and olive trees. Ayvalık is also surrounded by the archipelago of the Ayvalık Islands on the sea and by a narrow peninsula in the south named the Hakkıbey Peninsula. The region is under the influence of a typical Mediterranean climate with mild and rainy winters and hot, dry summers. Ayvalık also has two of the longest sandy beaches of Turkey which extend as far as the Dikili district of İzmir nearly 30 kilometers or 19 miles to the south. These are the Sarımsaklı and Altınova Beaches. Lately Ayvalık has also become an important destination for scuba divers with its underwater fauna. Ayvalık and the surrounding are also famous for the high quality of their olive oil production.
Ayvalık and the numerous islets encircling the bay area are popular holiday resorts. The most important and the biggest of these islets is Cunda Island, or Alibey Island, which was connected to Lale Adasi and so to the mainland by a bridge in the late 1960s. This was the first and is currently the oldest surviving bridge in Turkey which connects lands that are separated by a strait. Cunda Island, also called Alibey Island - (Turkish: Cunda Adası, Alibey Adası) is a small island off the coast of Ayvalık with an area of 23 km², making it the largest island in the Ayvalık Islands group. It is located 16 km east of Lesbos, Greece and is linked to Ayvalık on the mainland by a causeway. The island is a typical resort town with a ferry link to Ayvalık.
Since September 1998, Ayvalık has had an international music academy which gives master classes for violin, viola and cello. It brings together students from all over the world and gives them an opportunity to work with distinguished masters of their particular musical instrument. Distinguished American based Harvard University and Turkey's Koç University have establihed a joint project in Cunda Island of Ayvalık and run a Harvard-Koç University Intensive Ottoman and Turkish Summer School every summer.
Today, the population of Ayvalık is close to 30,000 - which significantly increases during the summer due to tourism. Ayvalık is also close to Bergama - ancient Pergamon which is another important attraction for tourists with its ruins, dating back to antiquity. With this rich architectural heritage, Ayvalık is a member of the Norwich-based European Association of Historic Towns and Regions. Various archeological studies in the region prove that Ayvalık and its environs were inhabited as early as the prehistoric ages.
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