İzmir is one of the oldest cities in the world with a history, which stretches back over 8,500 years. The city successfully blends modern living with this rich past, an inheritance entrusted to it from history.
As Turkey’s third largest city, İzmir is the capital of the Aegean Region and an important center for manufacturing and trade. With its 19 industrial estates, 2 free zones and 7 universities, İzmir is one of the life lines of the Turkish economy. Its international sea port is the most important one in Turkey, as an exporting route for its 70 thousand businessmen, 6,500 industrialists and close to 100 thousand tradesmen. Having actively sought new investment in the worlds of tourism and business, İzmir now leads in Turkey as a city, which attracts the most foreign investment and international trade.
Built on its strong historic trading associations, İzmir has been known throughout history as one of the main commercial centers in the Mediterranean and looks forward to a bright future. Its vibrant economy is also a factor in attracting a wide range of international congresses and commercial fairs to the city.
İzmir is easily accessible from all parts of the world, whether by air, land or sea. It provides the ideal holiday destination, thanks to its rich historical culture and natural beauty. It also offers a range of hotels, shopping centers with the latest brands, colourful markets and superb cuisine, enough to surpass anyone’s holiday or travel expectations.
As a modern centre for medicine, İzmir can also offer comprehensive medical treatment for those wishing to combine conventional therapy with the healing thermal water of its spa resorts, known for thousands of years for their curing powers.
İzmir’s attraction is based on its climate, with 300 days of sunshine a year and on its stunning natural surroundings. Known throughout history as ‘Beautiful’ İzmir, the same adjective can still be used today to describe the city. It refers not just to the sea, but also embraces a wide range of scenery the mountains and plateaus, the forests of red pine and shrubs, where one can come face to face with nature at its best.
It is also possible to experience the natural beauty of the sea and the coastline, while visiting the neighbouring turistic centres and historic sites of Selçuk, Bergama, Foça, Çeşme and Seferihisar.
While planning your holiday, make sure to leave enough time to indulge in the sheer enjoyment of the whole İzmir experience; time to relish new flavours, to discover the secrets of history, to breathe the wonders of nature and to live life as you could only have dreamed it. Come to beautiful İzmir – the pearl of the Aegean – and home of your dreams.
History of İZMİR
During the Hittite Civilization, İzmir and its powerful neighbouring regions, were key political components, playing an important role as the link between Anatolia and Greece.
Today the Aegean Region has helped to shape the world’s cultural makeup by being an important center for philopsophy, science, art and trade for several civilizations over many centuries. Out of the 12 Ancient Ionian League Cities, seven lie within the borders of İzmir (Klazomenai, Phokai, Kolophon, Teos, Lebedos, Erythrai and Ephesus). As the famous historian Herodotus once stated “under the most beautiful sky and the most beautiful climate” the city of İzmir; continues to grow. During the Ancient Ionian Period, İzmir and its surrounding area experienced its most prosperous period.
Throughout history, powerful nations and emporers have been drawn towards İzmir, the city of ports. This includes the Lydian Civilization which reined over the Western Anatolian Region during the 7th century BC. The Lydian capital of Sardes, lies today within the borders of Salihli, a city east of İzmir.
In the year 546 BC, the Persian Empire reigned over the Lydian Kingdom and Anatolia. With the Persian ruling lasting 200 years, the Persian and Hellenic Empires cultures combined and resulted in many Greco-Persian structures throughout the city.
The entrance of Alexander the Great to İzmir in 334 BC brought the end of Persian domination. As this brought the beginning of the Hellenic Period; Alexander the Great still held an important place in the history of İzmir. Known as Smyrna during the reign of Alexander the Great, the beginning of the Hellenic period resulted in a shift in the center of the city to Pagos (Kadifekale). The natural port developed within the walls helped İzmir grow in and around the Kadifekale Region; which is the same location of the city of İzmir we known today.
After the death of Alexander the Great, the city and its surrounding regions were divided amongst the commanding officers. The region known as Pergamon (Bergama) ruled by the Seleukos became a kingdom. Currently, Pergamon is known as the ancient world’s most important health center. Later, with the succession of Pergamon, a path opened for the Romans to rule over Anatolia.
During the rule of the Roman Empire, İzmir went through one of its most influential periods. Agora came about in the center of the city, following an earthquake in 178 BC created and repaired significantly by Emperor Markus Aurelius.
The “Western Entrance” was given the name of Queen Faustina. Ancient writer Strabon (6th Century BC) once stated that İzmir “is the most beautiful city of its time”.
With one of the 7 Revelation Churches located in İzmir (ancient Smryna-Church), and “The house of Virgin Mary”, the holy mother of Christianity, located at Bülbül Hill; İzmir is also a very important place in the history of Christianity.
Later ruled by the Byzantine Empire, the city became an important capital for trade. Between the 14th and 15th centuries the city was ruled both by the Byzantines and the Geneve’s. In 1422 the city joined the Ottoman Empire and to this day it has been ruled by the Turks.
In the 16th century following the takeover of the island of Chios by the Ottoman Empire, Europe’s consulates began to relocate to İzmir. Following periodic developments in trade, İzmir became a trade junction point between the east and the west.
As he past through to the city on his way to Egypt, Christian ecclesiastic and traveller Müller mentioned the following about the port of İzmir: “A mixtures of boats and ships from France, Gallia, Holland, England and nearly 70 countries counted; three times a year trains come from countries like Iran, Mongolia, China and various other Levantine and Middle Eastern countries. As the caravans arrive the 4,000-5,000 loads of cargo are unloaded in İzmir.” This helped state the important role İzmir played in the world trade.
With the building of a new port and the development of the new railway system reaching Western and Middle Anatolia, the second half of the 19th century brought about a period of growth and expansion for the city. Since then İzmir is well known for its multiculturel atmosphere, surrounding many different people with different believes, on which the traditional indulgence air of the city based.
As a significant point in world history, World War I (1914 – 1918) brought a new period which lasted with the formation of the Republic of Turkey. By helping to be the ending point of “the War of Independence”, the city of İzmir was given the title as the most modern city of the Republic of Turkey and to this day continues to carry this title.
Izmir Daily Excursions
Throughout history, Izmir has been a port city and Konak is the city centre of Izmir. Following recent restorations this area has also been turned into a recreational centre, and thus is now a lively spot throughout the day. In the square can be seen: – the monumental statue of Hasan Tahsin, who fired the “first bullet” at the occupation forces during the War of Liberation, the Yah Mosque decorated with tiles from Kütahya, the Clock Tower, the Municipality Building and the Governor’s Office.
Izmir’s century-old symbolThe Clock Tower, which is a symbol of Izmir, is located at Konak Square, and is a favourite meeting p lace for today’s residents of Izmir. The Clock Tower was designed by the Levantine French architect, Raymond Charles Pere in 1901 in commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the ascension of Abdülhamit II.In the construction the use of iron and lead elements between the cut stone meant that the tower was rendered earthquake resistant.The clock in the tower was a gift from Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germanyto Sultan Abdülhamit II of the Ottoman Empire as the symbol of their personal friendship besides the Turk-German friendship.The fountains located on all the four corners of the wide chamber under the Clock Tower have also given the tower the characteristics of a “şadırvan” (fountain used for ritual ablutions and usually located in the middle of a mosque courtyard). Another feature of the tower is the city gas installation built inside it. In the past, this was used as a lighting source at night and in the evenings.
Taking a bird’s eyes view of Izmir and the port, Kadifekale, which was called Pagos in Ancient Times, has the characteristics of an acropolis due to its position at an altitude of 186m. The ruins of walls on the western and southern parts, comprising of five towers, date back to the period of Lysimachus, one of the generals of Alexander the Great.The settlement in Izmir was re-located to Kadifekale from Bayraklı in the period that followed the arrival of Alexander the Great in Anatolia in 334 B.C. According to the geographer Strabo, the urban core of Izmir, which was one of the 12 most beautiful Ionian cities, extending from Kadifekale to the port, comprised of streets paved with smooth stones, a temple dedicated to the mother goddess and Homer, a theatre, agora, which was a lively trade centre, a stadium, grain warehouses, water cisterns and aqueducts.
Centre for arts, trade and philosophy Agora, etymologically, means “city square, shopping centre, market place”. At the heart of all trade. Agora with its open vaulted three-walled porches, monuments, altars and statues had commercial, judicial, religious and political functions besides it was a venue for intensive artistic activities. It was also the place where the foundations of philosophy were laid.The agora located in the District of Namazgah in Izmir dates back to the Roman Period (2nd C. A.D.), and according to the grid planned Hippodamos model, it was built on three floors at a location near the centre. Of all the Roman Agorae, the Agora in Izmir is the largest and best preserved.It is understood that the Agora in Izmir was a composite structure in a rectangular form, built on arches and surrounded by columns with a central courtyard; it has three floors and a staircase in front of it.It is also understood that the relief of the Goddess Vesta at the northern gate of the agora is an extension of the reliefs from the Zeus Altar unearthed in the initial period of excavations. In addition to some statues of various gods, namely Hermes, Dionysus, Eros and Heracles, many artefacts including statues of men, women and animals, reliefs, figurines, marbles, bones, glasses, metal works and articles made of fired earth were uncovered. The newly unearthed inscriptions provided information about the people who assisted the city during an earthquake which occurred in Izmir in 178.
A historic bazaarKemeralti is a historic bazaar covering an area extending from the Neighbourhood of Mezarhkba§i to Konak Square. Anafartalar Avenue, that constitutes the main street of the bazaar, forms a wide curve.This curve stems from the fact that the street once surrounded the perimeters of the internal port, which existed in previous centuries.As in the past, Kemeralti Bazaar is a major shopping centre in Izmir today. The bazaar, having an outdoor and indoor section, offers visitors a rich variety of products and services ranging from traditional Turkish handicrafts like ceramics, tile panels, wooden products, copper, carpets, rugs and leather products, to delicious Aegean foodstuffs.Konak PierModern Shopping Centrebuilding until the mid-20th century. Famous for its steel construction, this structure has been restored and re-designed as a modern shopping and recreational centre. There are restaurants, cafes, cinemas, and about 50 stores in a 20,000 mz area of this centre which was re-named the Konak Pier.
Source of inspiration for poets and songs Gustav Eiffel, in his offices in France, designed Konak Pier, which is also within walking distance of the business and commercial centres such as Alsancak and Konak, before it was built in the Ottoman Period between 1875 and 1890. It served as a customsKordonboyu (LKordon) is just like a pearl necklace running along the coast in the District of Alsancak, enjoying the popularity it has received for providing the inspiration for many poems and songs. It offers romantic sunsets, sea breezes, cafes, fish restaurants,stylish stores, parades, running and biking courses. It also provides an ideal atmosphere for entertainment and recreational activities, bringing together the people of Izmir.
The Asansör (lit. elevator) Building, which was constructed by the Jewish businessman Nesim Levi in 1907 to facilitate reaching the upper part of Mithatpaşa Street, is one of the interesting tourist spots in Izmir today. This aesthetically designed building is recognized as one of the indispensable social structures in Izmir.
An Ottoman experience Kızlarağası Han (Inn) was built by Hacı Beşir Ağa in 1744 to serve the public. The inn, one of the rare works of Ottoman architecture in Izmir that has survived until the present day, has the design of other Ottoman inns, with bazaars and courtyards. Kızlarağası Han is a glorious structure with its rectangular plan, two-storey “bedesten” (vaulted part of a bazaar where valuable goods were kept) and courtyard. Following restoration in recent years, it has become an authentic shopping and social centre in Izmir.