If what they call paradise exists, our village, Kirkintzes, was such an example.
Dido Sotiriou, Farewell Anatolia
Kirkintzes (Şirince) is in a fertile valley near ancient Ephesus. In this area, an aqueduct, unidentified Hellenistic buildings and byzantine chapels can be traced. One of the chapels is found in a cave and is decorated with frescoes of the 14th and the 15th century.
The foundation of Kirkintzes is dated during the 15th century when the neighboring Ephesus was abandoned. The settlement was prosperous in the 19th century when two churches were built: the “triune” Metropolis dedicated to the Entry of Theotokos, John the Forerunner and Saint Charalambos and the church of Saint Demetrius where panels and crosses of byzantine years, originating from Ephesus, are built in its walls. In this small town, there were also a nursery school, an academy for boys (Arrenagogeion) and an academy for girls (Parthenagogeion).
Kirkintzes was especially known from the book of D. Sotiriou “Farewell Anatolia” in which the euphoria of the area is described vividly: “…We were living close to God, up above and between verdant mountains. From there we were gazing again and again all of the fruitful meadow of Ephesus, which was our own, from here to the sea, hours of walking, all around fig orchards and olive trees, farms of tobacco, cotton, corn and sesame… ”. Additionally, the book offers a testimony about the life in Kirkintzes before the disaster that followed.
The persecutions of the Greek habitants began in 1908 with the prevalence of the Young Turks’ movement. In 1916, almost 4.000 citizens of Kirkintzes were forced to move inside the country whilst the same year the greater part of the city was destroyed during a fire. Later, 500 families returned and on the eve of the Minor Asia Catastrophe, the population reached 2.000 habitants. After the Catastrophe and in the context of population exchange, which followed the First World War (1924), Kirkintzes’ habitants settled in Greece. Their place was taken by Turks arriving from Thessaloniki, renaming the city to Şirince.