The Byzantines knew the area as Pyrgion, Greek for "little tower".
The town served as the capital of the local Aydınoğulları Kingdom, one of the mishmash of medieval statelets formed in Asia Minor during the turbulent period roughly between the 13th century, when the Anatolian Seljuks, better known as the Sultanate of Rum in the west, collapsed after the Mongol invasion, and the 15th century, the rise of the Ottomans as the central authority. Much of the town's layout, as well as its monuments, date back to this time.
The local hub is Ödemiş, which has highway, bus, and train connections with Izmir, the regional capital. From Ödemiş, Birgi is a short minibus hop or an easy, 9-kilometre (5.6 mi) drive away towards the hills in the east.
Walking around is not only easy but is also very enjoyable — think of cobbled streets shaded by mature stone pines, all surrounded by historic and well-tended stone and timbered houses, with the occasional views of the valley below.
Touring around the town by a car is also an option, and parking space is in plenty.
The town is spread on both sides of a(n often dry) creekbed, with only two crossings on the bottom and uppermost ends of the town, so plan your itinerary accordingly.
- 1 Aydınoğlu Mehmet Bey Mosque (Ulu Cami). Built in 1312
- Ümmü Sultan Tomb.
- Umur Bey Statue.
- Çarkıroğlu Mansion.
There is also a few low-key attractions some distance from the town.
- İmam Birgivi Shrine.
While there are some shops and stalls around the town offering local products such as black mulberry syrup (kara dut suyu) or chestnut candy (kestane tatlısı, which is sourced from the Mt Bozdağ, towering over the town), you will usually find them locked up during the weekdays, even in the high summer season, as this is a town that often goes unexplored except by some domestic weekend trippers.
The road swinging north past the town climbs up the Mt Bozdağ (ancient Tmolos). Although not without its more than fair share of hairpin turns and narrowish in parts, the road is well-surfaced, goes through a very lush landscape, especially in its deep descent on the northern side of the mountain, and is extremely scenic. On its northern end, it arrives almost right at the gate of the ancient site of Sardis, the capital of the Lydians, or about 5 km (3.1 mi) west of Salihli, the district centre.