Urla is a small town and the center of the Urla district in İzmir Province, in Turkey. It is located in the middle of the isthmus on a small peninsula which projects northwards in the Gulf of İzmir. Sizable parts in the municipal area, owned by absentee landlords, remain uninhabited or are quite rural. Its population is composed of residents, many of which are wealthy, who commute to the larger cities of İzmir and Çeşme - international centers of tourism 45 kilometers or 28 miles from Urla, via a modern six-lane highway.
Urla district nevertheless manages to preserve its feel of a pleasant small fishing village. The Urla district neighbors of Seferihisar has a development pattern which is sparser, with even some empty land, even though housing projects targeting professional classes from Izmir are starting to be developed. The Urla economy is mainly agricultural products - especially fresh produce for the huge nearby market of İzmir, with fish, poultry and flowers also being important. Urla's fish restaurants along with other local specialties, notably the layered pastry known as katmer is famous. Urla's name is also associated in Turkey with a particular breed of okra that is red in color. (Turkish: Kınalı Bamya)
Information about the Urla region's pre-Hellenistic history is quite recent, based on the excavations in Limantepe carried out by an international team starting in 1979. Some researchers claim that it was possibly the most ancient regularly used port in the world. Urla was an important cultural center also in its Hellenistic period. It was the site of the Ionian city of Klazomenai. Pieces of art and sculpture found during archaeological excavations are now exhibited in the Louvre in Paris or in the İzmir Archaeology Museum. The oldest confirmed olive oil production facilities were recently discovered in Klazomenai. These traces also indicate the first exportation of olive oil by way of sea.
An olive oil extraction installation (Turkish: işlik) dating back to the 6th century BC uncovered in Klazomenai is the only surviving example of a level and weights press from an ancient Greek city. It precedes, by at least two centuries, the next datable early presses found in Greece. It was restored and reconstructed in 2004-2005 through a collaboration between Ege University, a Turkish olive-oil exporter and a German natural building components company with the work carried out by local artisans.
The name Urla is derived from the Greek Βουρλά - meaning marshlands and the town was cited as such by western sources until the 20th century. Urla is where the ancient city of Klazomenai is located and its highly interesting remains are an important tourist attraction. Urla is also home to the İzmir Institute of Technology and Urla prides itself for having raised two important men of letters, Giorgos Seferis and Necati Cumalı. Secondary and/or holiday homes continue to play a big role in the Urla economy, witnessed by the high number of residences (26,000 in the district) as compared to its population. Although Urla is eager to promote itself as a tourism destination with a wider appeal, the number of beds available for visitors remains rather modest at only 185.
Fish Auction at Pazar in Urla