Gönen is a city in Southern Marmara in Turkey, 45 km inland from the port of Bandırma. It has a population of 45,282 as of 2012, with another 20,000 in its surrounding villages, and is best known for its geothermal springs.
In antiquity this was the Hellenistic town of Asepsus (Ασεψούς), later dubbed Artemea (Αρτεμέα) for the goddess Artemis. No-one knows why the Ottomans decided to call it Gönen. It's long been a spa resort for its geothermal hot waters, within easy reach of the coastal harbours. It was wrecked in an earthquake of 1440 AD but continued to grow as a provincial market town, making its living from tanning leather and cultivation of rice. The 1953 earthquake of magnitude 7.3 killed 50 in town and 1000 across the region: there was over 4 m lateral displacement along the fault line. This fault is the reason for the geothermal springs, and examination of its previous major earthquakes suggest they only recur about every 660 years, inşa'allah.
Get in Edit
Kamil Koç ("Camel Coach", now part of Flixbus) run evey 2-3 hours from Istanbul Esenler (Europe-side), taking six hours via Gebze, Bursa, Karacabey and Bandırma. An adult single fare is 220 TL. Metro Turizm look cheaper and faster, but their buses start from Istanbul Samandira, way out in the eastern burbs. Pamukkale Turizm buses don't run here.
Ferries from Istanbul take two hours to Bandırma, and ferries from the Marmara Islands sail to nearby Erdek.
1 Gönen bus station is west side of city centre.
By road from Istanbul you can go either way round the Sea of Marmara. Clockwise takes you on O-5 past Gemlik and Bursa, then D200 via Bandırma and the minor highway through Buğdaylı. The anti-clockwise route became much quicker in March 2022 when the Dardanelles bridge opened. Follow highway signs for Çanakkale: this route nowadays bypasses Keşan and Gelibolu to sweep over the straits (toll). Take the first exit Asia-side to pick up D200 east along the coast to the Gönen turn-off.
Get around Edit
The town's accommodation and thermal centres are all a short walk from the bus station.
- Town was hurriedly rebuilt after the earthquake of 1953, so it's all drab 1960s low-rise. The road bridge is likewise modern, and two gnarly stumps are all that remain of the Roman bridge.
- Open-air Museum (Açık Hava Müzesi), Yurt Sk 1. Closed. Displays include findings from the excavations of ancient thermal bath ruins. In 2022 it remains closed.
- 1 Ekşidere village 10 km south is a smaller spa resort.
- Hot springs (Kaplıca) have been used for relaxation and therapy since Roman times. In Gönen these emerge at 52°C, laden with sulphur and sodium bicarbonate and chloride, slightly alkaline at pH 7.36. Bask in their warmth, or drink them with a bit of gagging. They're supposed to alleviate some three dozen conditions, like snake oil or medieval saints' relics, which frankly means they help none - just remember that the town's traditional industry is tanning leather.
Small stores cluster at the crossroads by the bus station. Carrefour is 500 m north on Hüseyin Tümer Cd 85 and handy for the hotels, open daily 08:00-22:00.
- Bus station area has Gönen Çorbacısı, Çilli'nin Yeri, Hünkar Pide, Konya Pide and Koza Park.
- Hotel area has Etkin Aile, Huzur, and Gonen Kaplicalari within Yıldız Otel.
- Höşmerim or cheese halva is a gloochy dessert of cheese, saffron and semolina, usually topped with ice cream and nuts, and washed down with tea. Lots of places claim to be the origin of höşmerim, but the word is Persian and it probably came to Turkey via the Balkans.
- Merkez Izgara Salonu is central, and Villa Port[dead link] is in the hotel quarter.
The accommodation quarter is north of the bus station and west of Hüseyin Tümer Cd.
- Inci Otel, Zeki Aydemir Cd 9 (one block north of bus station), ☏ . Simple clean place northwest side of city centre. B&B double 400 TL.
- 1 Termal Yıldız Otel (Thermal Star Hotel), Banyolar Cd, ☏ . Large slab of a spa hotel, rather run down. B&B double 1200 TL.
- Termal Güneş Otel, Banyolar Cd 24 (100 m west of Yıldız Otel), ☏ . Mid-range spa hotel, cleaning erratic.
Gönen and its approach highways have 4G from all Turkish carriers. As of March 2022, 5G has not rolled out in Turkey.
Go next Edit
- Bandırma has ferries to Istanbul. The shortest approach is northeast through Buğdaylı, but take the side-road east though Akçaova to circle Bird Lake and reach the wildlife park on its east bank.
- Bursa is a busy modern place, but as the first city of the Ottoman dynasty it's full of historic sights. Uludağ is the mountain resort just south.
- Çanakkale 140 km west is the way to reach ancient Troy, the Gallipoli battle memorials, and the islands of Bozcaada and Gökçeada.