Izmir Tourist Attractions
West coast (Aegean Sea)Situation and ImportanceIzmir (formerly Smyrna) is the provincial capital of western Turkey and the third-largest city in the country.
It ranks as the country's most important port and commercial center after Istanbul. The city stands at a central position on the western coast of Asia Minor in the splendid Gulf of Izmir (Izmir Körfezi), which forms one of the finest bays in the Aegean region. The inner bay lies at the heart of this rapidly expanding city, which extends for 30km/19mi along the coast and rises like an amphitheater up the slopes of Mount Pagus, dominated by the peaks of the Manisa Dagi range including Mount Sipylos (1,517m/4,977ft) and the Nif Dagi (1,510m/4,953ft).The city itself has been destroyed many times, most recently by the great fire of 1922. Rebuilt in a modern style, few historic buildings remain, apart from the ancient agora. The city, nevertheless, welcomes many tourists who are visiting the eastern Mediterranean and offers an important base to students of ancient history.The city, situated at a busy road and rail junction, owes its economic significance to an accessible port which serves as the main outlet for the produce of western Anatolia. Izmir is Turkey's financial center and also hosts international trade fairs including a year-round export fair. Over recent decades, however, the city has become a major industrial base for textiles, tobacco, food, paper, chemicals, tanning and of course for carpet- making (Smyrna Carpets). Izmir exports mainly tobacco, cotton, raisins, figs, olives and olive oil. The city is home to a university and a NATO command headquarters.HistoryAs early as 3000 B.C., a Trojan Yortan settlement was founded on the Tepekule at a site 3.5km/2mi north of the modern town. At the end of the 11th century B.C. Aeolian Greeks founded the colony of Smyrna whose name derives from the myrrh, a small tree which grows abundantly in the region. The town's fortifications which date from the 11th century B.C., are reckoned to be the oldest of any town founded by the Greeks. In the same century the Ionians were also colonizing the region and according to Herodotus Ionians from Kolophon occupied Smyrna. The Greek poet Homer whose birthplace is claimed by many towns is said to have written "The Iliad" here sometime between 750 and 725 B.C.In the second half of the fourth century B.C. Alexander the Great instructed his general Lysimachos to build a citadel on top of Mount Pagus, 5km/3mi south of the former town. It was around the northwest foot of this mountain that the new Hellenistic town grew up. In the third and second century B.C. Smyrna flourished and, even under Roman rule (from 27 B.C.) the city continued to thrive. In the second century A.D. the port enjoyed another revival and the so-called "Golden Road", part of which has been preserved dates from this time.In 1415 after centuries of fluctuating fortunes Smyrna became part of the Ottoman empire. Despite two destructive earthquakes (1688 and 1778) and two major fires (1840 and 1845) in the 19th century Smyrna maintained its position as one of the most prosperous cities of the Ottoman empire.Reconstruction after 1922During the Greek-Turkish war of 1919 Smyrna was occupied by Greek troops. The Treaty of Sèvres (1920) awarded the city to Greece but not for long. In 1922, after Kemal Pasa had reconquered the city for the Turks, the rich, northern part of the city which had been occupied by Franks, Greeks and Armenians was set on fire.The reconstruction of the city and the resettlement of the Greeks presented new challenges. Wide boulevards with green open spaces were built and lined by modern buildings. One part of the city destroyed by the fire is now the Culture Park, home also to the Izmir International Fair. New industrial zones were built in the north, while large residential areas have been developed along the bay's coastline to the southwest of the city and also on the northern side of the Gulf.
Atatürk Caddesi (Kordon)
The most important street in Izmir for tourists is the long Atatürk Caddesi which stretches some 3.5km/2mi south from the district of Alsancak (landing-stage for passenger ships) at the northern tip of the city. This broad seafront promenade passes alongside the harbor as far as the old district of Konak and offers a panoramic view of the Gulf of Izmir to the right, while the left-hand side is lined with handsome modern buildings (mainly restaurants).
At No. 248 Atatürk Caddesi in Izmir is the Atatürk Museum with mementos of Atatürk's stay in Izmir. Farther down, standing by itself, is NATO's command headquarters.
Address: Ataturk cad. No:24 Alsancak, Turkey
About half-way along Atatürk Caddesi in Izmir is Republic Square (Cumhuriyet Meydani), with the Independence Monument (Istiklâl Aniti), an equestrian statue of Atatürk.
The southern part of Atatürk Caddesi leads from Republic Square in Izmir past the Commercial Harbor (Ticaret Limani), with the offices of various shipping lines and many banks. At the junction with Gazi Bulvari is the Stock Exchange.
At the southern end of Atatürk Caddesi in Izmir lies Konak Meydani, a long square looking out on to the Gulf of Izmir. The imposing modern Town Hall (Belediye) stands at its north side and at its south side is the Cultural Center of the Aegean University, a complex of buildings in an unusual architectural style which includes an opera house, an academy of music, exhibition halls and a museum of modern art.Most of this busy square is occupied by the Central Bus Station. Situated near the Town Hall beside a pedestrian underpass stand the Clock Tower (Saat Kule), an old city landmark, and the little Konak mosque.
Above Konak Square in Izmir a little way southeast on the curving main road to the south lies the recently-constructed Archeological Museum. It contains many interesting finds from ancient Smyrna, Ephesus, Miletus, Sardis, Pergamon, Tralleis (Aydin) and other sites. Among particularly notable exhibits are figures of Poseidon and Demeter (A.D. second century) from the agora at Smyrna, various sarcophagi, a colossal Roman head, a mosaic pavement, fine collections of glass, coins and jewelry and a bronze figure of Demeter from Halikarnassos (Bodrum; fourth century B.C.)
On the opposite side of the Archeological Museum in Izmir is the Ethnological Museum, recently installed in an old building. On display are many exhibits of Turkish furniture and traditional handicrafts.
The bazaar in Izmir is situated to the northeast of Konak Square extends throughout a maze of narrow streets and lanes with innumerable workshops, little shops and stalls, several 18th century caravanserais (some of them restored) and a number of small mosques dating from Ottoman times. Of particular interest is the well- restored Hisar Mosque (1597).
A little way south of Fevzi Pasa Bulvari in the Basmahane district of Izmir on the Osmanpasa Bulvari are the partly excavated remains of the agora (market), which originally dated from the Greek period but was rebuilt after an earthquake in the second century A.D. during the reign of Marcus Aurelius. Along the west end of the square which is laid out in gardens, stand thirteen columns with fine capitals. On the north side is a three- aisled basilica 160m/175yds long with a vaulted roof borne on pillars. The marble figures which were found here are now in the new Archeological Museum. The Kadifekale citadel offers a view of the whole agora, enabling visitors to appreciate the full extent of the site.
900m/1,000yds to the south along Esrefpasa Caddesi in Izmir, lies a stretch of Roman road (Roma Yolu), which formed part of the old Golden Road (Altin Yol), an important section of the road network built during Roman times. To the west of the Roman road is Cici Park, on the slopes of Degirmen Tepe (Mill Hill; 75m/245ft). On the hill once stood temples of Vesta and Asklepios, but no traces remain. It also marks the spot where a 17km/10mi Roman aqueduct ended.
Kadifekale (Panoramic View)
From the old citadel on top of Kadifekale Hill are incredible views of Izmir, the Gulf of Izmir, and the surrounding countryside.
In the northeast of Izmir not far from Basmahane Station, in a district which was burned down in 1922, lies the Culture Park with gardens, a lake, the international fair exhibition halls, a zoo and an amusement park. To the northeast of the Culture Park beyond the railway lines is the large Alsançak Stadium.
Southeast of the Culture Park in Izmir to the east of Basmahane Station, the Kemer Bridge crosses the small River Melez (the ancient Meles), a modern structure on Greek and Roman foundations. It was formerly known as the Caravan Bridge, from the heavy caravan traffic which passed over it on the way to the interior (Manisa, Balikesir, Sardis).
2km/1.25mi east of Izmir, outside the suburb of Tepecik, is Diana's Bath (Diana Hamamlari), a little lake with eight springs which supply Izmir with water.
More on PlanetWare