Bozcaada, Turkey is an island on the Aegean Sea, located about 12 miles from the Çanakkale Strait and extends over an area of around 40 square kilometers. Its ancient name is Tenedos and still referred to by the Greeks as such. The residents make their living from viticulture, fishing and tourism, even though the island residents didn't allow international tourists ashore until the mid-1990s. The only town of the island, which is home to about 2,000 people, lies on its northeastern corner, facing the mainland. The rest of the island is covered by vineyards, scattered pine woods, and Mediterranean shrubland (maquis), only interupted by the occasional vineyard manor and housing estates used by mainland Turks as vacation homes dot the coastline.
Aside from Bozcaada Castle, an impressive structure that no one seems to know when or by whom its builders were, the colorful small fishing boats lying in the small marina gives visitors the obvious feeling that there's an extremely laid back pace of life in Bozcaada. The Greeks once controlled this 40 square kilometer island, with its bays and beaches and vineyards which have operated seemingly forever. Bozcaada Castle is one of the best preserved castles of Turkey. The existing castle dates back to the era of Sultan Mehmet the Conqueror, when it was rebuilt on the ruins of the castle used by the Phoenicians, Genovese, and the Venetians somewhere around 1455. Then during the period of Köprülü Mehmet Pasa, it went through a major restoration after being damaged by battles between the Venetians and the Ottomans in about 1657. During the reign of Mahmut II, it underwent a major rebuilding and has remained in this condition since around 1815.
The slow motion pace of Bozcaada witnessed from the many open-air cafes and little restaurants scattered around town would drive most fast-paced city dwellers crazy. But seafood affecionados can get locally caught calamari and octopus in several of the many small restaurants, especially in the Greek Quarter.
Even though picturesque places like Selcuk in Turkey, near the ancient ruins of the city of Ephesus are small traditional villages, a visit to Bozcaada offers a welcome respite from the crowds of tourists that frequent those more well known traditional villages. The 12 hour-long motorcoach ride, the minibus and the ferry ride from Selcuk to Bozcaada is well worth the time and effort.
The island lies in the Aegean Sea 5 kilometers off the coast from the small port at Geyikli, which is around 55 kilometers south of Canakkale on the Dardanelles - just down the road from Gallipoli and near the famous ancient city of Troy.
The Greeks surrendered control of the island to the Republic of Turkey in 1925, but it was still populated mainly by Greeks up until the 1960's. The main road from the port used to be the dividing line between the Turks and Greeks on the island, but now there only remains 16 old Greeks on the island with the Greek Quarter consisting mainly of restaurants, pensions, small hotels in little buildings on quite narrow cobblestone streets. Lately the more affluent Turks from Istanbul and Izmir have begun building holiday villas at the back of the island near Ayazma Beach, one of the more popular swimming locations during the summer.
It is rumored that the Greek historian Herodotus - known as the Father of History, wrote: "God created Bozcaada (Tenedos) for those who visited there, to have a long life."