Erica & Matt Chua: The Prettiest Ugly City in the World

(What do you do when you have something amazing and you don’t want to share it?  You tell people it’s terrible so that you can have it all to yourself.  It was along that line of thinking that original settlers of Sirince named it Çirkince, which in Turkish means ugly.  The founders discovered their own slice of heaven and didn’t want to share, so they called it ugly and lived happily ever after…until 1926.  The small hamlet was renamed Sirince, which means pleasant.  Now the perfect side-trip from Ephesus this pleasant little city gets it’s fair share of visitors.  Pleasant may still be an understatement, but will hopefully  keep the crowds at bay and preserve the beauty of this place for a few more years.

Şirince was settled when the Greek city of Ephesus was abandoned in the 15th century, but the “pleasant” town you see today dates from the 19th century.  The old brick and stucco buildings with bright orange terra-cotta roof tiles and deteriorating wood shutters lend a medieval feel to the town.  As you wind your way through the cobblestone streets the cafes draw you in and the welcoming owners beckon you to sit down for a hot drink.

The small-town hospitality is hard to resist as are the many cafes oozing with charm, but there are so many alleys to explore and views to take in it can be hard to sit still.

Each house seems to have a story to tell and several generations of secrets to share.  If only the walls could talk they could share the transformation from ugly to pretty.

The flower lined, steep stone tracks used to navigate the city wind around, bringing you to an even more beautiful outlook than the one you left.

The best turns are the ones that drop you at a new market stall with fresh strawberries and a woman with even more tales than the buildings that surround her.

Once you’ve seen the city by foot enjoy the hospitality of the locals and sit down to a delicious meal with local wine, you won’t be disappointed, in fact you’ll probably be pleasantly surprised.


Plan a stop to Şirince after exploring the ruins of Ephesus, it’s close by and a great place to eat, so come hungry as there are several small cafes to choose from.

Plan on renting a car or taking a tour that includes a stop in Şirince as it’s difficult if impossible to get here on public transport.

Bring good walking shoes, the cobblestone streets and very steep hills make it a tough place to navigate in flip-flops or heels.


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