Monday, November 2, 2015


Kuşadası in western Turkey, a sprawling resort town overly built for its own good, was once an uneventful and charming fishing village. Located on the coast of the best sea in the whole world, namely the Aegean Sea, it was here that the first olive oil refinery of Turkey was founded by a Genoese in 1930. There was a tannery and also an ice factory which all make it unfair of me to describe the place as uneventful. In antiquity it was overshadowed by Ephesus but when the Byzantine, Venetian and Genoese shippers began to trade along the coast, the port was re-founded as Scala Nova-‘new port’.  I’m saddened and angered by the fact that the town’s development didn’t progress in a thoughtful and tasteful manner over the years. That is why I am always critical of its unfortunate growth and crowds.

In the middle of the town, along the main road and only steps from the sea there used to be a park when I was little. We never went to this park but we always passed by it. The ground was packed dirt, if I remember correctly. I don’t recall any flowers in the flower beds. There were mostly small trees that made the place shady and dim like nothing you would expect from a sunny beach town. The hedges were also of the same species of plants as the trees. What made the place even more mysterious for a child were the two lion sculptures on either side of the entrance. The faces of the lions were eroded and they only reached a child’s height. The park is no more but I still remember that park with the lions.

This lion is a handsome version of the ones I remember from the park

The plants in the park were mostly ligustrum which is a  genus of Old World shrubs that are also called privets. This is a genus of flowering plants in the family Oleaceae which is the olive family. Olive, ash, jasmine, lilac, privet all belong to this family. The trees and the shrubs have berries, capsules or drupes as fruits.

Ligustrum lucidum is a species with leaves that are smooth and shiny. In Latin lucidum means bright or shiny and it refers to the glossy leaves. Small white flowers develop as terminal panicles-much branched inflorescence-and then there appear green berries that turn purple and then black as they mature.

L. lucidum are planted as hedges and ornamental trees.

In my experience the smell of these flowers simply overwhelms the olfactory nodes and you want to experience it over and over. Some descriptions of the flowers mention that the smell is pungent and unpleasant.


I do not believe any flower or plant can have an unpleasant smell, unless it is something exceptional like the big corpse flowers (Carrion) which they say smell like a dead body. Carrion has been brought to our attention in the past few years because they are becoming extinct and botanists and naturalists are rushing to capture all they can about this plant.

Photo taken in December 2003 by Klaus Polak

I wish the same could have been done for old towns and buildings.

                       Looking north from the old town of Kuşadası that should have been kept as it was.

This photograph was taken from the opposite direction, looking south. It shows how big ugly buildings are popping up everywhere. When the buildings become taller than the hills and hide the mountains beyond there is no characteristic skyline left to admire.



  1. Hi Beste - it's the way it is unfortunately ... and it's only now that the powers that be and us lot are realising how much 'treasure lies at our feet ... and how we need to protect and find out more - which we are able to do in the 21st century ... so many technological tools available. Sad - but at least you have some memories ... and we are finding new finds ... cheers Hilary

  2. You are right Hilary. Mine is also nostalgic ranting. The new generations will never know the quiet, the calm or the dark we were able to experience as, perhaps, the last generation.

  3. I wish I could experience more darkness. I try to emphasize it when writing stories set in the past. The world used to be darker and more season-based.
    I love the smells of some of these hedges.
    Is that what privet is! I've read references to privet hedges in novels...

  4. I read some place that light polution is increasing every day. In Istanbul, my municipality put up some AD display cases with ample lighting kept on all night. This was a few months back. I wrote to them explaining about the birds and the nocturnal creatures. On my recent visit the lights were off. Could it be that they listened to me?