Söke is located in the Aydın province of Turkey. It is 54 km from the city of Aydin and only 35 km from the coastal resort of Kuşadası. The town lies inland and does not benefit much from tourism in the same way as its coastal neighbours. You might struggle to find a good hotel here. It isn’t off the beaten track, but it is an agricultural town, and people tend to pass through it on their way to Izmir or Adnan Menderes Airport rather than stop here.
Söke used to be a Greek city under the name of Anaia. This later became Sokia and finally its current name Söke after it became part of modern day Turkey. Söke is actually a large market town with good fertile agricultural land and the region is the largest producer of cotton in Turkey. Söke is also the only place in Turkey that exports culinary snails. The town benefits from several factories producing branded jeans and cotton goods.
The Fatma Suat Orhon Museum is fairly central to the town centre. Surprisingly there is very little information or signposting to this magnificent little gem of a place tucked way by a small park in İsmet İnönü Street. I wonder how many residents of Söke actually support this museum or have ever even been there? On the day we visited we were the only people there for the complete duration of our visit.
The museum was donated to the municipality of Söke in 1994 by the people whose name it now bears. Funded by the Turkish Ministry of Culture, the Söke Municipality have restored the house and turned it into a fascinating insight into the history and arts of the city of Söke. The museum shows how ordinary trades people might have lived and has a selection of tools, furniture and items from every day life. Each rooms delves into the past history of Söke and its people. It is open to the public and for anyone who wants to learn more about the city in which they live, or for visitors looking into life as it might have been in Söke in days gone by. Admission is free.
Anyone driving through Söke will notice several outlets and many restaurants including a Starbucks and a McDonalds. The local cuisine is Çöp sis, a kind of lamb kebab which is served at many of the restaurants locally and traditionally cooked on wooden skewers. Literally translated as trash or rubbish shish, soldiers used to cook the meat on their swords.
Since there is a main highway passing near the town it is to be expected that every effort has been made to hook in the passing trade. There are also thousands of people employed in the factories and as such the town has the infrastructure that you would expect for a town this size. Each week there is a busy Wednesday market which draws in crowds from the nearby towns and villages.