Izmir" -- the "Pearl of the Aegean" -- is
Turkey's third largest city and second most important port. A city of
palm-lined promenades, avenues and green parks set in sweeping curves
along a circular bay, Izmir has an exceptionally mild climate and many
fine hotels. The city is a busy commercial and industrial center as well
as the gateway to the Aegean Region. Turkey's Aegean shores are among
the loveliest landscapes in the country. The magnificent coastline, lapped
by the clear water of the Aegean Sea, abounds in vast and pristine beaches
surrounded by olive groves, rocky crags and pine woods. Dotted with idyllic
fishing harbors, popular holiday villages, and the remains of ancient
civilizations, this region offers an exceptionally attractive venue for
meetings, incentives and conferences.
The original city
was established in the third millenium B.C., and at that time shared with
Troy the most advanced culture in Western Anatolia. By 1500
B.C. it had fallen under the influence of Central Anatolia's Hittite Empire.
In the first millenium B.C., Izmir, then known as Smyrna, ranked as one
of the important cities of the Ionian Federation; during this period --
one of the city's most brilliant -- it is believed that Homer lived here.
The Lydian conquest of the city, around 600 B.C., brought this period
to an end, and Izmir remained little more than a village throughout the
Lydian and the subsequent 6th century B.C. Persian rule. In the fourth
century B.C. a new city was built at the instigation of Alexander the
Great on the slopes of Mount Pagos (Kadifekale). Izmir's Roman period,
from the first century B.C., gave birth to its second great era. Byzantine
rule followed in the fourth century and lasted until the Seljuk conquest
of the 11th century. In 1415, under Sultan Mehmet Celebi, Izmir became
part of the Ottoman Empire.
The 3rd largest, and
one of the most beautiful provinces of Turkey is Izmir, extending on the
shores of an attractive bay, filled with ships and yachts. Backed by mountains
and facing the sea, this site offers a fine appearance, both with its
natural panorama and its modern and orderly view. Lovely palm trees decorate
the promenades and avenues, where new and impressive buildings stand.
Walking around this
charming city, one can see a lot, ranging from the oldest remains, to
the most recent establishments scattered around.
stands in Konak Square as a symbol of the city while nearby the
Archelogical Museum houses many finds from the early western Anatolian
civilizations. In the city center, there is the Kultur Park (Culture
Park) where the famous annual International Fair is held.
Filled with pretty
restaurants, cafes, shops and bars, Kordonboyu is a long
promenade, which provides a restful atmosphere and the typical elegant
scenery of the city. Kemeralti Bazaar is a smart place with
limitless shopping opportunities for here you will find almost anything
you want, at the most appropriate prices.
is another attractive district on the opposite side of the bay, where
the Olaf Palme Park exists near the open-air museum, which houses many
Known as "Smyrna"
in ancient times, the province of Izmir has a long history, dating back
to the 3rd- millenium BC when it was one of the most advanced cultural
center in Western Anatolia. Legendary Homer lived here in the lonian period,
which was the most splendid age of the city, dating to the 1st-millenium
BC. Today some beautiful examples from this long past can be found inside
the city. Here is the Kadifekale (the Velvet Fortress) located
on Mount Pagos, overlooking the area. A marvellous view of the Gulf of
Izmir is provided from this castle built in the 3rd-century BC, and later
restored at various times. Another important sight is the Roman agora,
constructed during one of the most brilliant periods of the province.
The seven churches mentioned by St. John in the Book of
Revelation are also in Turkey and are spread around Izmir, which are Izmir
(Smyrna), Efes (Ephesus), Eskihisar (Laodicea), Alasehir (Philadelphia),
Sart (Sardis), Akhisar (Thyatira), and Bergama (Pergamum).
Today, Izmir has an
important port, as well as a lovely holiday resort with numerous sandy
beaches stretching over its towns and environs. In addition to famous
sites like Efes, Kusadasi or Cesme, Izmir possesses Balcova, one of the
important thermal centres in Turkey, which is known as the "Agamemnon
Baths". They offer modern facilities to visitors, in the midst of
Pergamum, (105 kms north of Izmir) is one
of the major sites antiquity in Turkey, having been a great center
of culture and civilization throughout history. The site has remarkable
remains from the Roman and Byzantine periods. The Asclepion to the southwest
of the lower city, was built to pay homage to the God of Health, Asclepios,
and it was the most celebrated in the world. The temples of Trajan and
Dionysus, majestic Altar of Zeus, the temple of Demeter, inspiring theatre,
the gymnasium, the arsenals, the lower agora and the famous library form
the Acropolis. In addition, you may see the finds from Pergamum and the
surrounding area. In the Archaeological and Ethnographical Museum. The
temple of Serapis, also called the "Red Courtyard" due to its
red tiles, is today located within the town of Bergama. It was built as
a sanctuary dedicated to Serapis and was then converted into a basilica
by the Byzantines. Bergama is the homeland of many philosophers
and scientists. Among them is Krates who invented and produced
the "parchment paper" (Pergamene Kaste) here.
Dikili is a harbor
town close to Bergama, visited by cruise liners bringing visitors to Pergamum.
Dikili is an ideal place to relax after a Pergamum excursion. A walk along
the Rordan promenade is a pleasure. Between Dikili and Izmir do not forget
to visit the port of Candaril which is crowned with one of the best preserved
Genoese fortresses .
THE CESME PENINSULA
Cesme is a little town at the tip of the
peninsula that forms the Gulf of Izmir. The meaning of "Cesme"
is "fountain" or "spring" due to the curative
springs and thermal baths around especially in Ilica. Cesme and
Ilica are resorts that should be visited for a while because of the vast
white beaches and azure waters with seasonal accommodation facilities.
Ilica is located at the center of several touristic sites. Thermal resorts
of Sifne Pasa Limani, Buyuk Liman, Alacati, and the Bay of Boyalik. You
may enjoy almost every kind of water sport in Cesme, including underwater
diving. If you are lucky enough you may encounter the seals, off the shore.
In this town, there are excellent accommodation facilities and an attractive
night life. Cesme Castle now houses the International Cesme
Sea and Music Festival. The Cesme Peninsula has many seaside resorts.
At the northeast of Cesme lies lidin which was the important port of Erythrai,
founded after the War of Troy, and it has a good view from the acropolis,
overlooking the bay and the islands .
is a peaceful place to visit and to taste the delicious fish at a local
seaside restaurant. The view from the Guvendik Hill is always relaxing.
The road between Izmir
and Cesme is dotted with lovely little fishing villages such as Mordogan
which takes its name from the particular purple color of the sunrise at
that spot and Karaburun an unspoiled village nestled between the mountains
and picturesque bays Balikliova.
On the southern part
of the Peninsula is Seferihisar an important yachting center surrounded
by Geneose remains. From here you may visit the ancient city of Teos to
see the impressive Temple of Dionysus, or to lose yourself to the warm
sandy beaches of Altnkum.
Gumuldur will also
tempt you with its beautiful beaches full of tranquil bays, which you
may consider as your own, with excellent accommodation, discos and restaurants.
The colossal statute
of Apollo in the Temple of Apollon at Ahmetbeyli (Claros), should not
be missed as it is an amazing piece of art.
An attractive site
with a mysterious nature is Foça, a legendary place interesting
sights. Here is the fascinating Siren Rock Island, where the action of
the soft wind blowing through the rocks make sounds resembling a woman's
cries. These unearthly sounds, once allegedly spell bound sailors to stay
on this land until their death.
Foça is the
ancient Phocaea of the lonians, and is supposed to have taken its name
from the "fok" which are the Mediterranean seals that inhabited
this distinctly peculiar rocky ground.
Reflecting the bright
history of the region, several monuments exist, including a tomb of a
Persian King, and another called "Seytan Hamami" (Devil's Baths)
at the foot of the Candede Hill. Here, the natural beauty is combined
with these historical assets, making Foça a charming touristic
Today, the town is
a lovely holiday village with green covered land meeting the clear blue
sea. The numerous modern facilities established around the clean beaches
offer visitors a wonderful vacation. A special event for divers, is the
Underwater Sports Festival held in the region.
Ephesus proudly houses one of the seven ancient
wonders of the world; the Temple of Artemis. The city is
dedicated to her and has many fascinating buildings. The precise date
of the city's foundation is not known but legend said that the first Efes
was founded by Women Warriors of the Amazon in the 14th century BC and
later inhabited by lonians in the 11th century BC after the first settlement
of the Anatolian's natives, the Lelegians. In a short time the city became
very important. After 133 BC it became a Roman province and during the
reign of Augustus it became the trade center of Asia.
With all these civilizations
passing through Ephesus, the remains take one or two days to visit fully.
The city still retains its importance, but this time as the most important
archaeological and historical city in Turkey. One of the very amazing
ruins in Efes is the huge amphitheatre with a 24,000 seat capacity and
superb acoustic effects. Seljuk is close to Efes and is crowned with a
Byzantine citadel and the basilica of St. John. Next to the basilica is
the Seljuk Isa Bey Mosque. The Seven Sleepers' Cave is another historical
place near Efes. The archaeological museum is significant with its striking
collection of items gathered from the excavations in Ephesus. Every May
there is an International Festival in Efes. On Bulbuldagi (Mt. Nightingale)
one can find the small house built for the Virgin Mary (9 kms from Seljuk)
when St. John brought her to Ephesus after Christ's death. She spent her
last days in that house. Today it is a place of Pilgrimage for Christians
and also visited by Muslims, and is officially sanctioned by the Vatican.
Every year on August the 15th, a commemoration ceremony is held there.
PLACES OF INTEREST
The Archeological Museum, near
Konak Square, houses a superb collection of antiquities including the
statues of Poseidon and Demeter, which, in ancient times, stood in the
Agora. (Closed on Mondays)
Next to the Archeology
Museum, the Ethnography Museum contains folkloric artifacts,
which include a fine collection of Begama and Gordes carpets, traditional
costumes and camel bridles. (Closed on Mondays)
The Ataturk Museum is situated
on Ataturk Caddesi in an old Izmir house used by the founder of the Turkish
Republic. It exhibits photographs of the leader as well as some of his
personal effects. (Closed on Mondays)
The Fine Arts Museum, located
in Konak, displays the works of famous Turkish painters. (Closed on Mondays)
The Selcuk Yasar Art Museum
is a private museum on Cumhuriyet Bulvari with a collection of 20th-century
Turkish art. (Closed on Sundays)
The Natural History Museum
in Bornova acts as a natural reserve of the Aegean Region landscapes
historical preservation. (Closed on Sundays)
The Odemis Archeological Museum is
about 60 km east of Izmir and displays regional artifacts. (Closed on
The Tire Archeological Museum
is about 50 km east of Izmir. (Closed on weekends)
HISTORICAL SITES AND MONUMENTS
The excavations at Bayrakli have unearthed
a temple dedicated to Athena and the wall of the Ionian
city, which flourished there between the seventh and fifth centuries B.C.
has also been uncovered.
On Kadifekale (Mt. Pagos)
stands the impressive ruin of a castle and its walls which were built
by Lyimachus in the reign of Alexander the Great, and which still dominate
Izmir today. The castle offers an excellent vantage point to enjoy a magnificent
view of the Gulf of Izmir.
The Agora, or marketplace,
in the Namazgah Quarter was originally constructed during the rule of
Alexander the Great. What remains today, however, dates from the rebuilding
under Marcus Aurelius after a devastating earthquake in 178 A.D.
The Sirinyer and Yesildere Aqueducts,
two examples of Roman engineering spanning the Meles River, supplied Izmirs
water throughout the Byzantine and Ottoman eras.
The Saint Polycarp Church is
the oldest church in Izmir and symblozes the Seven Churches of the Apocalypse.
Saint Polycarp was martyred at age 86 in A.D. 155 at Kadifkale by the
Romans. According to tradition, when they tried to burn him at the stake
the flames wouldnt touch him so they finally stabbed him to death.
The church was reconstructed in 1620.
The Kizlaragasi Han (Inn),
a fine example of 18th-century Ottoman architecture of the period, is
being restored to its former glory.
The symbol of Izmir, the Saat Kulesi,
or Clock Tower, stands in the heart of the city at Konak Square.
It was a gift from Sultan Abdulmecit, and was built in 1901 in an elaborately
decorated late-Ottoman style.
The old Asansor quarter, filled
with old restored houses, is also known as the Jewish quarter. Dario Moreno
Sokagi is the main pedestrian street to the Asansor itself, which is an
elevator that was built in the 19th century. At fifty-one meters in height,
it provides access between the lower and upper streets. Situated on the
upper side, the Asansor restaurant offers a beautiful view
If you find yourself on Havra Sokak
in Kemeralti, be sure to notice the old buildings and synagogues. Alsancak
(Punta), with traditionally restored houses, has been converted into a
pedestrian promenade with bars, cafes and restaurants.
In the center of Cumhuriyet Meydani,
or Republic Square, is the Ataturk Monument, an impressive statue of Ataturk
sitting on a horse and facing the sea. Erected in 1933, the monument commemorates
the liberation of the city by Turkish forces.
The Flying Dolphins, in Karsiyaka,
is a monument that symbolizes friendship and brotherhood.
Hisar Mosque is the largest
and oldest in Izmir. Built in the 16th century, and restored in the 19th
century, it has a delightful interior with an interesting mimber (pulpit)
and mihrab (niche showing the direction to Mecca).
Other mosques in Izmir are Salepcioglu
(20th-century), Sadirvan (17th-century with 19th-century
restorations) and Kemeralti (17th-century).
All these are situated
close to the Kemeralti Quarter.
Kulturpark, the main park of the city, offers
a variety of activities. It is the site for the International Izmir Fair
and contains an amusement park, zoo, restaurant and quiet gardens.
Olof Palme Park, situated
in Karsiyaka, is a relaxing place to stop. It also has sports facilities.
Karsiyaka is ancient Cordelia.
Next door, the Adnan
Saygun Park, a center for artistic activities, contains an amphitheatre
for concerts and theatrical productions, as well as the Open-Air Museum
Park, which has statues scattered throughout the grounds.
Insan Haklari (Human
Rights) Park has lovely modern statues, including the huge Flying Dolphins
Muammer Aksoy Park
is a lovely seaside park with a nice view of Izmir Bay. Turgut Ozal Recreation
Park, located in Bayrakli, offers a number of recreational and sports
ART, CULTURE AND ENTERTAINMENT
For many years Izmir has enjoyed a reputation
as a cosmopolitan city of culture. The Izmir Cultural Center hosts opera
and ballet performances as well as musical concerts. The city is home
to the Aegean Philharmonic Orchestra and boasts a thriving theatrical
community. During the annual Izmir International Festival, international
and local artists perform at various venues in the city and surrounding
area, including the theatre at Ephesus. Take a horse-drawn carriage along
the promenade during the day and afterwards spend the evening in the lively
atmosphere of the bars and cafes around Kordonboyu, Passport Pier and
In the streets of the Kemeralti Market area,
it is possible to find fascinating antiques, both fine and fun jewelry,
a great variety of clothing, and the dried figs and raisins for which
Izmir is famous. The fish restaurants in this colorful area serve up the
local specialties of tranca and cipura, two types of sea bream.
The best modern and
most elegant shops are on the Kordon Promenades in Alsancak and Karsiyaka
and on Cumhuriyet Avenue and in Passport.