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About Cunda island

Cunda is the largest of the Ayvalık Islands and Turkey’s fourth largest island in the Aegean Sea. Strategically located in the Gulf of Edremit, across from the Greek island of Lesbos, it attracted Ancient Greeks, Romans, Byzantines and Ottomans in turn to its shores. Renamed “Alibey Island” after a famous colonel during the Turkish War of Independence, it nevertheless retains the Ancient Greek name of Cunda today. The area’s Greek population left their legacy in the island’s main landmark, the stunning late 19th century Greek Orthodox Taxiarchis Cathedral, built in the Neo-classical style. Later the church was converted into a mosque, and then suffered damage during an earthquake. When Ayvalık was declared a natural and historical heritage site, efforts to repair the church culminated in restoration by the Rahmi Koç Museum and Culture Foundation. Today the cathedral also houses a museum of maritime artefacts, classical automobiles, and other antiques that bring the history of the island to life. The bridge connecting the mainland to Cunda was the first straight bridge constructed in Turkey.

During the hot summer months, tourists flock to Cunda to stroll beneath the olive trees along the lively cobbled streets of the village. Boat tours are a popular way to explore the turquoise inlets around the island. Local inns provide quaint rooms and traditional Turkish breakfasts. Nature lovers can spend the night in tents at camp sites on the beach. Seaside restaurants serve a rich blend of Greek and Turkish cuisine, including fresh seafood caught daily off the shore. Bakeries and cafes offer famous treats such as desserts make with home-made ricotta or the gum of local gum trees. The area is also renowned for its olive oil, so visitors can buy delicious emerald glass bottles of it and other products such as olive oil soap.  

The island is quiet in the winter with a modest population which can increase tenfold in summer months. Inhabitants earn their living through tourism, olive production and fishing. With a climate typical of the Mediterranean, Cunda is quite hot in the summer and mild in the winter. The closest airport is Edremit Korfez Airport (EDO), about 40 km away. The closest international airport, Izmir’s Adnan Menderes Airport, is 175 km away.

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