Ayvalik, located on Turkey's north Aegean coast opposite the Greek island of Lesvos (Mytilene), is a popular seaside resort for Turks seeking sun, sand, sea, and seafood. The town, formerly known as Kydonia, has a rich history as a significant olive-growing region, with olive oil production accounting for around 80% of Turkey's olive oil.

During the Ottoman Empire, Ayvalik was a thriving trading center and one of the most prosperous towns on the Aegean seaboard. Over the years, it changed hands multiple times, with Greeks, Turks, and Cretans living in it. Following the population swap in 1923, Ayvalik became an interesting and lively town, reflecting its diverse history.


Before the population swap, Ayvalik had 11 churches, but only 7 of them remain today. Four of these churches have been converted into mosques and are still in use. The oldest and most important church is the Taxiarchis Church, built in 1844, which has been rebuilt and converted into a museum.

The Hamidiye Mosque, constructed in 1895, is the only historical mosque in the city. It is an excellent example of 19th-century neoclassical architecture and still retains its original features.

The unique residential architecture of Ayvalik, known as the Ayvalik Houses, is the city's most prominent feature, giving it a distinct identity. These houses are typically built on long and narrow plots in a line formation facing the street. They can be one, two, or three stories tall with a mezzanine, and the street-facing sides of the building sites face each other, resulting in narrow facades and easy street access. Each house has a courtyard or garden at the rear, which may require a separate entry depending on the property's position, making the streets of Ayvalik defined by house facades.

Cunda, also known as Alibey Island, is the largest of Turkey's archipelago islands and was previously home to the Greek Orthodox Metropolitan Bishop and the Moonlight Monastery. The island boasts stunning beaches, a serene cobblestone town, olive groves, gift shops, and exceptional seafood restaurants, as well as opportunities for water sports and sunset watching. It is connected to the mainland by a bridge, and buses run every few minutes, or visitors may opt to walk or take a taxi.

Ayvalik was added to UNESCO's Tentative List in 2017.