Aristotle lived in Assos and St Paul visited, but today visitors go to Assos, just south of Ayvacık, (not Ayvalık) as an Aegean-coast seaside retreat amid ancient ruins (map), with a selection of good boutique hotels.
Though officially named Behramkale (BEHH-rahm-kah-leh), most people still call this town 66 km (41 miles) south of Troy by its ancient name of Assos. It was founded in the 700s BCE by colonists from Lesvos. Aristotle came here and married King Hermeias’s niece, Pythia, before sailing over to Lesvos.
Atop a hill surrounded by olive groves are the ruins of the Doric-style Temple of Athena (530 BC) surrounded by crumbling city walls and an ancient necropolis (cemetery). Nearby is the 14th-century Ottoman Murad Hüdavendigar Mosque. The hill offers spectacular views of the Aegean Sea and the nearby Greek island of Lesvos.
Down the steep seaward side of the hill at the water’s edge is the hamlet officially named Behram, but actually called İskele (Dock, Wharf) by everyone, with old stone houses now serving as inns, hotels and restaurants. It’s hopelessly charming and picturesque. The small pebbly beach is less of an attraction than the boat tours and the picturesqueness of the hamlet itself.
These days, the nearest Lesvos ferry services are from Ayvalık and Dikili, to the south. The way to get to Assos is by bus from Çanakkale or Ayvalık. You’ll probably have to get off the bus at Ayvacık (not Ayvalık) and switch to a minibus or taxi to make the final 19-km (12-mile) run into Assos.
The nearest small airport is at Çanakkale, the nearest large one is Adnan Menderes Airport south of İzmir. TheBandırma-İzmir train stops at Balıkesir, 161 km (100 miles) to the east. Going by bus is faster.
—by Tom Brosnahan
Distances & Travel Times
Ayvacık: 19 km (12 miles) N, 25 minutes
Ayvalık: 130 km (81 miles) NW, 2.25 hours
Balıkesir:161 km ( 100 miles) E, 2.5 hours
Bandırma: 257 km (160 miles) NE, 4 hours
Bozcaada Ferry Dock: 58 km (36 miles) NW, 1.25 hours
Çanakkale: 79 km (49 miles) N, 1.5 hours
Istanbul: 419 km (260 miles) NE, 6.5 hours
İzmir: 370 km (230 miles) S, 5.5 hours
Kazdağı (Mt Ida): 92 km (57 miles) W, 2 hours
Troy (Truva): 66 km (41 miles) N, 1-1/4 hours