IZMIR


Izmir - Birth Place of Homer

Known in Turkish as "Beautiful Izmir", the city lies at the head of a long and narrow gulf furrowed by ships and yachts. The climate is mild and in the summer the constant and refreshing sea breezes temper the sun's heat. Behind the palm-lined promenades and avenues which follow the shoreline, the city, in horizontal terraces, gently ascends the slopes of the surrounding mountains. The third largest city in Turkey, İzmir's port is second only to İstanbul's. A cosmopolitan and lively city all year round, during the International Arts Festival (June/July) and the International Fair (August/Sept), İzmir bursts with an added vibrancy.

The original city was established in the third millennium B.C. (at present day Bayraklı), 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 millennium B.C. İzmir, then known as Smyrna, ranked as one of the important cities of the lonian Federation; during this period - one of the city's most brilliant - it is believed that Homer resided here. The Lydian conquest of the city, around 600 B.C., brought this period to an end, and İzmir 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 Mt. Pagos (Kadifekale). İzmir'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 in the 11th century. In t415, under Sultan Mehmet Çelebi; İzmir became part of the Ottoman Empire.

Places of Interest

Museums

The Archaeological 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. Neighbouring the Archaeology Museum, the collection in the Ethnography Museum contains folkloric artifacts, which includes a fine collection of Bergama and Gördes carpets, traditional costumes and camel bridles.

Situated on Atatürk Caddesi, in an old İzmir house used by the founder of the Turkish Republic, the Atatürk Museum exhibits photographs of the leader as well as some of his personal effects.

The Fine Arts Museum, located in Konak, displays the works of famous Turkish painters.

The Selçuk Yasar Art Museum is a private museum on Cumhuriyet Bulvarı with a collection of 20th-century Turkish art. The Natural History Museum in Bornova attracts as a natural reserve of the Aegean Region landscapes' historical preservation.

The Ödemis Archaeological Museum is about 60 km east of İzmir and displays regional artifacts. The Tire Archaeological Museum is about 50 km east of İzmir.

Historical Sites and Monuments

The excavations at Bayraklı have unearthed a temple dedicated to Athena, and the wall of the lonian city which flourished here between the seventh and fifth centuries B.C. Pottery dating to the third millennium B.C. has also been uncovered.

On Kadifekale, Mt. Pagos, stands the impressive ruins of a castle and its walls, built by Lysimachus in the reign of Alexander the Great, which still dominate İzmir today. The castle offers an excellent vantage point to enjoy the magnificent view over the Gulf of İzmir.

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 Şirinyer and Yesildere Aqueducts , two examples of Roman engineering which span the Meles River, supplied İzmir's water throughout the Byzantine and Ottoman eras. me Saint Polycrap Church remains are of the oldest church in Izmir, and symbolise the Seven Churches of the Apocalypse community. Saint Polycarpo was martyred at Kadifekale by the Romans in 155 A.D. According to legend, when they tried to bum him, the flames wouldn't touch him and they finally stabbed him to death. The church was reconstructed in 1620 by Süleyman the Magnificent.

An 18th century Ottoman inn, the Kızlarağası Han, a fine example of the architecture of the period, is being restored to its former glory.

The symbol of İzmir, the Saat Kulesi, or Clock Tower, stands in Konak Square - the heart of the city. A gift from the Sultan Abdülhamid, and built in 1901, it is decorated in an elaborate; late-Ottoman style.

Restored old houses fill the old Asansör quarter, also known as the Jewish quarter. In this quarter, Dario Moreno Sokağı is the main pedestrian street to the Asansör, an elevator from the 19th century which is fifty-one meters in height, and provides access between the lower and upper streets. Situated on the upper side, the Asansör restaurant offers a beautiful view of İzmir.

If you find yourself on Havra Sokak in Kemeraltı, notice the old buildings and synagogues.

In the center of Cumhuriyet Meydanı, or Republic Square, stands the Atatürk Monument, an impressive statue of Atatürk sitting on a horse and facing the sea. Erected in 1933, the Monument commemorates the liberation of the city by Turkish Forces.

Standing in Karşıyaka, The Flying Dolphins is a monument that symbolises friendship and brotherhood.

Mosques

Hisar Mosque is the largest and oldest in İzmir. Built in the 16th century, with restorations in the 19th century, it has a delightful interior with an interesting mimber (pulpit) and mihrab (attar).

Other mosques in İzmir are Salepçioglu (20th century), Şadırvan (17th century with 19th-century restorations) and Kemeralti (17th century); all are situated close to the Kemeraltı Quarter.

Parks

Kültürpark, the main park of the city, offers many different activities. ft is the site for the International İzmir Fair and contains an amusement park, zoo, restaurant and quiet gardens.

Olaf Palme Park, situated in Karşıyaka, is a relaxing place to stop. It also offers some sports facilities. Next door, Adnan Saygun Park, a center for artistic activities, contains an amphitheatre for concerts and theatrical productions, and also the Open-Air Museum Park, which has statues scattered throughout the grounds.

Insan Haklari (Human Rights) Park has lovely modem statues, including the huge Flying Dolphin Monument. Muammer Aksoy Park is a lovely seaside park with a nice view of İzmir Bay.

Turgut Özal Recreation Park, located in Bayraklı, offers a number of recreational and sporting activities.

Art, Culture and Entertainment

İzmir has for many years enjoyed a reputation as a cosmopolitan and cultural city. The Izmir Cultural Center hosts performances of opera, ballet and musical concerts, and the city is home to the Aegean Philharmonic Orchestra as well as a thriving theatrical scene. During the annual İzmir International Festival, international and Turkish artists perform at various venues in the city and surrounding area, including the theatre at Ephesus. Alsancak (Punta), with traditional restored houses, has been converted into a pedestrian entertainment walkway, with bars, cafes and restaurants.

İzmir International Fair, which is an international amusement and industry show, opens each year in August.

Take a horse-drawn carriage along the promenade during the day; afterwards spend the evening absorbing the lively atmosphere of the bars and cafes around Passport Pier.

Shopping

In the streets of the Kemeraltı Market area, it is possible to find fascinating antiques, both fine and fun jewellery, a great variety of clothing, and the dried figs and sultanas for which İzmir is famous. The fish restaurants in this colorful area serve up local specialities; trança and çipura, two types of sea bream. The best modern and most elegant shops line the Kordon Promenades in Alsancak, Karşıyaka and Cumhuriyet Avenue.

Environs of Izmir

Balcova, on the road to Çeşme, is one of Turkey's largest thermal spas, with excellent facilities for guests.

Camalti, 15 km west of Karşıyaka, is an area of coastal marshes and salt fields that is preserved as an important bird sanctuary - the Izmir Bird Paradise. Enthusiasts can spot many species, including flamingos and pelicans.

The Yamanlar Camligi, a pine forest near the lovely Karagöl Lake, 40 km northeast of Karşıyaka, is a popular picnic spot that also provides restaurants and a swimming pool.

A Hittite bas-relief is carved into the rock at Kemalpasa (20 km from İzmir) which lies in the Karabel Pass.

On the highest point above İzmir, Belkahve overlooks the Gulf of İzmir and is a relaxing spot to enjoy a cup of Turkish coffee. A favourite haunt of Atatürk's, it is now the site of the largest statue in his honour.

The Seven Churches of the Apocalypse, mentioned by St. John in the Book of Revelations, formed separate and distinct communities, and are all found in Turkey : Izmir (Smyrna), Efes (Ephesus), Eskihisar (Laodicea), Alasehir (Philadelphia), Sart (Sardis), Akhisar (Thyatira), and Bergama (Pergamum). Tours of one to four days can be arranged to see several or all of the churches.

The Çeşme Peninsula, lapped by the waters of the Aegean Sea, lies west of İzmir. The name 'Çeşme', meaning fountain, refers to the many springs found in the area during the 18th and 19th centuries. It is one of Turkey's most beautiful stretches - surrounded by clear blue sea, with landscapes of cultivated fields of aniseed, sesame and artichokes dotted with fig and gum trees. In the unspoiled bays you can swim in absolute peace. Visitors will find excellent holiday accommodations, restaurants, sports and entertainment facilities.

A 14th century Genoese fortress, restored and enlarged by the Ottomans in the 16th century, dominates the small port of Cesme, 80 km from İzmir. Today the town is a popular holiday ' resort with excellent accommodations and restaurants. The 16th century caravanserai near the fortress, built by Süleyman the Magnificent, has been converted into a hotel, while the 19th century Church of Hagios Haralambos has been restored as the Emir Çaka art gallery. Thermal baths offer a health-oriented escape from modern life. Excellent shopping - the finest quality carpets, leather goods, as well as souvenir items are available. At night, a lively, fun atmosphere pervades, especially in the restaurants, cafes, bars and discos along the promenade.

Yachts can be hired to explore the Peninsula's splendid coastline. Çeşme hosts an annual International Song Contest in the summer. Also, weekly ferry lines run from Çeşme to Venice. ·· The very popular holiday centre of Ilica boasts an excellent white, sandy beach, and the outstanding facilities of the Altin Yunus Marina and Holiday Complex. The bay here is ideal for water sports, especially windsurfing and sailing. The thermal baths around Ilıca are very popular; the best being located on Sifne Bay; Paca Limani has a campsite which offers campers comfortable facilities. In Ilıca Bay, the colorful International Çakabey Optimist Yacht race is held every year in July.

Ildiri, a quiet seaside village 20 km northeast of Çeşme, was ancient Erythrai. Those who climb up to the Acropolis at dusk are rewarded with beautiful views as the sun sinks over the bay and islands. Nearby Gerence Gulf is a pristine inlet northeast of the Çeşme Peninsula which can be reached by yacht or car.

The natural surroundings offer relaxation while the bay is ideal for water sports. In Dalyan, a fishing village built on a sheltered deep water inlet just north of Çeşme, some of the region's best fish restaurants border the quay of the lively marina. Tourists are attracted by the variety of Çiftlik's accommodations, and by a long, sandy beach (Pirlanta Plaj), just outside of town to the southwest. Camping facilities are available to the south, and nearby stretches one of the area's best beaches, the Altınkum Plaj (Golden Beach).

Windmills, some of which have been converted into attractive restaurants, dot the hill above Alacati, a delightful and typical Aegean town. Alaçatı lies to the south inland from Ilıca and the coast; a couple of kilometres to the south is a good beach. Many lovely bays, accessible only by yacht, are to be found along the coast southeast of the town and ensure peaceful and relaxing anchorage in this popular sailing region.

Known in ancient times as Clazomenae, Urla Iskelesi offers a marina as well as plentiful accommodation in all price ranges. Restaurants on the top of Güvendik hill afford a marvellous view of the bay and its islands.

The prosperous little fishing village of Cesmealti is notable for its simple yet excellent fish restaurants.

As you drive along the panoramic Karaburun Peninsula coast road you pass several peaceful bays and quaint fishing villages: Balıklıova, Mordoğan and Karaburun. At Karaburun, pleasant hotels, tea gardens and fish restaurants sit between the beautiful mountain backdrop and the clear, clean water. From Manastır Mountain, you can enjoy an unforgettable view of the Karaburun coast, the Foca coastline opposite, and the entrance to the Gulf of İzmir.

On the southern side of the Çeşme Peninsula, near the town of Seferihisar, is the small picturesque marina of Sigacik. This important yachting centre is surrounded by fortifications dating from the Genoese period and is a good point from which to visit the Temple of Dionysus at the antique site of Teos as well as the lovely Akkum beach.

Gumuldur has excellent tourist facilities - beautiful beaches, restaurants and hotels. Near Ahmetbeyli (Claros) to the east, stands the Apollo Temple and the remains of the colossal statue of Apollo; here you can also enjoy a good fish meal or a swim at the town's wide beach. A winding panoramic coastal road leads from Ahmetbeyli south to Pamucak beach.