|Izmir overview||Clock Tower, Izmir|
Located 560 km south of Istanbul, with a population of around 3.500.000, Izmir is the westernmost major city in Turkey not only in terms of geographic location but also existence of many Western minded people living in the city. In fact it is an old city, first settled by Aelonians around 900 BC, with a name inspired by the goddess Myrina.
After the usual invasions of Ionians, Lydians and of course Alexander the Great who re-built the city, Izmir initially enjoyed the advantages of close relations with Pergamon and then became an important port city of Roman Empire. It also became an important center for early Christianity being one of the seven Churches of Revelation
It is an unlucky city in terms of destructions and earthquakes throughout the history as it was once knocked down completely by the mongols of Tamerlane (Timurlenk) before being re-built by Ottomans around 1400 AC. The city became the Ottoman Empire's Aegean port.
But the main turning point for Izmir was the Trade treaty, dated 1535, signed by France and Ottoman Empire which let the region blossom while the merchants from Europe began to initiate import-export businesses, enjoying the fertile soil of Izmir and the vicinity extending down to Aydin at South and up to Ayvalik at North.
Izmir was also the main port of export for cotton, Angora wool, carpets, Turkish and Iranian Silk (via the Silk road) as well as some -now politically incorrect but completely legitimate back then -stuff like Turkish opium (of Afyon and Kutahya region) and tobacco. For centuries this city basically connected Anatolia to Europe and beyond. Due to this fact, Izmir attracted merchants, sailors, bankers, agriculture experts, engineers and workers of all kinds and religions namely Greeks, Armenians, Jews, Venetians, Dutch, French, English and Americans.
Unfortunately, vast majority of the signs of this wealth accumulated during these trade years were all burnt down to ashes by the great fire of 9 September 1922, when The Turkish armed forces finally liberated the city from Greeks and ended the Greek invasion of Asia Minor, a post-WWI attempt which brought a defeat to Greeks but sparked the fire for the establishment of the last Turkish state called Turkish Republic.
While the city has attracted a huge number of new residents from different parts of the country in the last two decades it is still a modern Turkish city though traffic and other problems arising from population increase has taken a toll on city's daily life. Izmir is the third most populous city after Istanbul and Ankara.
There is not much of an archeological site or ruins left in the city of Izmir excepting the Agora, built by Alexander the Great then re-built by Marcus Aurelius due to an earthquake. You can also visit Archeology and Ethnology museums, Konak region that is famous for the Clock Tower, Kemeralti Bazaar, an old Jewish neighborhood called Asansör where stands a small elevator to climb up the hill and Kadifekale, around which Alexander the Great had once re-built the city.
While the city does not offer much to visitors in terms of history, it features a unique, laid back attitude which is very different from Istanbul and it is a joy to sit back and enjoy at the cafes and bars of Kordon surrounded by a climate that enables visitors to enjoy the Aegean atmosphere almost all year long. It is also a great hub point letting quick jumps to villages and areas which are located within an hour driving distance. Ephesus and Selcuk, cruise port of Kusadasi, resort town of Cesme mostly a destination for Turkish tourists enjoying the sun and sea, Foca, a small Aegean town with a plenitude of seafood restaurants, Alacati, a wind surfers paradise with beautiful beaches facing the Aegean and many villages in Izmir peninsula.
Izmir is also an important connection point for the incoming and outgoing buses, flights and cruises. This city can easily connect you to anywhere in the country or even in the world.
Please see our tour page for all tours in this region and around Turkey.