Being one of the most westernized cities in Turkey, the metropolitan city of Izmir is the 3rd most populous city in Turkey. Smyrna, the ancient name of the settlement, has been generally in use until the Turkish Republic adopted the Latin alphabet and made the name of “Izmir” the internationally recognized one. Although its recorded urban history goes down to 4000 years ago, the advanced human settlement indicates a longer history lying underground.
This large and populous city (third largest in population after Istanbul and Ankara) overlooking the Aegean coast is the heir to the ancient Smyrna. In appearance, it is basically modern, the result, in great part, of the fire which destroyed most of the city in 1922. An active port of call for shipping, second in importance only to that of Istanbul, it is considered an ideal point of departure for excursions in a surrounding territory that has much to offer. One of the most characteristic features of the city is its felicitous geographical site, at the foot of the hill on which the fortress of Kadifekale stands, facing out on an enchanting bay, with a natural backdrop of high mountains which in antiquity were a valid bulwark against threatened aggression from outside.
The scanty remains of the Agora, however, attest to the city's great past; apparently, it was built during the Hellenistic period, even if what is to be seen today certainly dates to a reconstruction promoted by Faustina, Marcus Aurelius' wife, right after the devastating earthquake of 178 AD. Various statues of the Roman period are particularly interesting. Partially mutilated, they represent Neptune, Ceres, and Diana.
Another element of particular interest to the tourist is the so-called Kadifekale. This fortress, whose name is the equivalent in English for velvet fortress, dominates the city from what in antiquity was known as Mount Pagus. Its appearance today is that of a structure readapted in Byzantine times even if its origins doubtless go back to before the period of Roman colonization.
The Archaeological Museums of the city contain many interesting finds, which came to light in the course of excavations in various archaeological zones of western Anatolia. Of particular note is a headless statue of a woman from Qhrai, and dating to the 6th century BC. Other documentation includes examples of archaic sculpture (second half of the 6th century BC), expressions of Hellenistic art, Roman and Byzantine sculpture, as well as the good example of sculpture from Ephesus (2nd century AD).
In the list of other tourist attractions, another mention should be made of the Kultur Park, seat of the annual international fair, the Bazaar, which displays the characteristic craft objects, the Hisar and Kemeralti Mosques (16th century), the caravansary of Kizlaragasi and the famous Clock Tower, with its fine architectural details, situated near the Yahli Camii (18th century).
The archaeological investigation carried out between the 1940s and 50s and begun again in the middle of the 60s was born out the hypothesis that the first forms of settlement on the soil of Smyrna were datable to the 3rd millennium BC and could be located in what is known today as Bayrakli. Scholars think the original nucleus of the city was coeval with the first levels of the city of Troy and that Smyrna adopted some of the cultural and religious models of Hittite civilization. Potsherds also document the presence of a Hellenic settlement dating to the 10th century BC. Devastated by the Lydians around the 7th century BC, the city was rebuilt in the second half of the 4th century BC, under the auspices of Alexander the Great. Successively part of the Realm of Pergamon, it was eventually included in the territories controlled by Rome and was embellished with new majestic buildings. In 178 AD Smyrna was razed to the ground by an earthquake and reconstruction was begun with the effective good offices of Marcus Aurelius. The Arab raids in the 7th century marked the beginning of its decadence. Taken over by the Seljuks (11th cent.) its vicissitudes varied at the time of the Crusades and it was permanently taken over by the Ottoman dynasty in the 15th century. A flourishing commercial center, it attracted European traders over a long period of time, survived repeated catastrophic earthquakes which struck once more in the 17th and 18th centuries. At the end of World War I Smyrna was entrusted to Greek control, from which it was released by the victorious progression of the struggle for national liberation under Ataturk.
The first archaeology museum was opened to visitors in 1927 at Ayavukla (Gozlu) Church in Tepecik after the work collection activities for three years. The second archaeology museum was founded in 1951 at Culture Park.
A new museum was required due to excessive works brought from the neighbor ancient cities.
A new and modern museum was established on a 5000m2 area in Bahribaba Park in Konak and the museum was opened to visitors on February 11th, 1984.
The museum was established to meet any kind of needs with its museum exhibition halls, laboratories, warehouses, photography-rooms, libraries, and conference halls. The number of monuments located in the museum building and garden is more than 1500.
In this three-floor museum, the exhibition is organized in sections.
Upper Floor Hall
The archaeological works of ancient cities such as Iasos, Candarli (Pitane), Bergama, Bayrakli (Former Izmir); ceramic findings made of cooked soil found in the Iasos dig in BC III. thousand of the prehistoric period; Western Anatolia ceramics of Protogeometric and Geometric Period; Western Anatolia vases with black and red figures belonging to Archaic Period; Hydrias of Hellenistic Period; various vessels, glass vases, bottles, masks, statues, Myrina (Aliaga) Eros statues are all exhibited in this hall. Gold, silver and precious stone ornaments, glass materials and coins of Archaic, Hellenistic, Rome and Byzantine Period and bronze Demeter ornaments, glass materials, coins, and bronze Demeter statue are exhibited in Treasury Hall of this floor.
Marble works are being exhibited on the middle floor, which is the entrance floor of the museum. Big statues, busts, portraits and masks of the period between Archaic times and Rome Times are also exhibited on this floor.
Etymologically, agora means Public Square and shopping district. Agora, which has commercial, judicial and political functions, is a place where the art activities increases, the background of philosophy is laid out and where the stoa, monuments, altars, and statues exist.
The Agora, located in Namazgah district, remained from Rome Period (AD 2nd century) and it was built according to Hippodamos city plan, in three floors, close to the centrum. The Agora is the one which is the biggest and best protected of the Ion agoras.
Most parts of the Agora was found with the digs carried out by Rudolf Naumann, Professor F. Miltner and Selahattin Kantar, the director of Ephesus Museum between the years 1932 - 1941 and it was figured out that it is a three - floor compound structure in rectangular form with stairs in the front, built on columns and arches around a large courtyard (120 x 180 m) in the middle of the building.
Recent digs in agora begun on August 5th, 1996 with the approval of the Ministry of Culture and cooperation of the Governor Office and the Directorate of Archaeology Museum.
At the south-east side of the agora, the area agora covered increased to 16.590 m2 after the surrounding wall of Misak-i Milli Primary School, which was burnt in the 1980s, was joined to the agora. The Agora studies are being carried out with the sponsorship of the municipality as digging, restoration, archaeological cleaning and environmental arrangement at five places such as agora area, northern gate basilica bottom, stoa, and ancient shopping center.
At the above-mentioned studies, the most important work has been carried out by finding the northern gate of the agora. It was figured out that the Goddess Vesta embossments found in these digs were the continuation of embossments of Zeus altar extracted during the first digs. Besides God Hermes, Dionysos, Eros, Herakles statues; many man-woman-animal statues, heads, embossments, figurines, and monuments made of marble, stone, bone, glass, metal and cooked soil were found. The inscriptions found here give us information about the people who aided the city during the earthquake in AD 178. Return to General Directorate of Monuments and Museums.
The museum is at 1st Kordon (Ataturk Street) and it was established as a house by carpet merchant Takfor between 1875 - 1880. The building was deserted by its owner on September 9th, 1922 and transferred to the ownership of the Treasury. The Turkish army who entered the place used it as headquarters. Ataturk executed his personal activities here when Izmir Economy Congress gathered on February 17th, 1923. At the end of the Congress, the headquarters moved from this building and the Treasury hired out the building to Mr. Naim to be used as a hotel. When Ataturk came to Izmir on June 16th, 1926, he stayed in Naim Palas with Ismet Pasha. The building was purchased by the municipality on October 13th, 1926 and given to Ataturk as a gift with some new furniture. At his every visit, Ataturk stayed in this house for the years 1930 - 1934. Upon his death of Ataturk on November 10th, 1938, the house was transferred to his sister Makbule Baysan due to inheritance. On September 25th, 1940, the municipality expropriated the house in order to make it a museum. The museum was opened to the public on September 11th, 1941, which was the 19th year of Ataturk's arrival in the city. The museum was renamed as "Ataturk Public Library and Izmir Ataturk Museum" on October 5th, 1962. On December 28th, 1972, the ownership of the building was given to Izmir Archaeology Museum with the letter of Undersecretariat of Culture numbered 12088. After being restored, the building was opened to visit with a ceremony on October 29th, 1978 with its new name "Ataturk and Ethnography Museum". The name of the museum was changed to "Ataturk Museum" after the ethnographic works in the museum was moved to the new Ethnography Museum established on May 13th, 1988.
It is a building in neoclassic style constructed with the mixture of Ottoman and Levantine architecture. It consists of the basement, ground floor, 1st floor, and roof. Its rectangle-planned backside is a brick structure covering an 852 m2 area with colonnade and courtyard. There is a corbel on the 1st floor at the front side.
The base of the whole ground floor is covered with large marble plates. In the saloon, there is a 34,5 m2 Usak carpet on the floor, there are marble statues, big crystal mirror and Ataturk bust on the left and right niches. There are excellent 19th-century style fireplaces in the rooms located left and right and in the small hall. There are 2 bronze chevalier statues at the beginning of the stairs going to the first floor standing as wall-light. A big Ataturk portrait is hung at the stair landing.
Ataturk's personal rooms are on the 1st floor. These rooms are as follows: Meeting room, working room, bedroom, guest room, barber room, guard room, waiting - reception room, library, dining room and bathroom. There is a roulette table with green broadcloth and 12 Cosmos trademark chairs in the meeting room. Some scenes from Shakespeare's works are animated on the porcelain plates at the back of 10 small mahogany chairs. There is a bed made of mahogany, two bedside tables, two velvet coaches, one sofa, one deck chair, one marquise and one wardrobe in the bedroom. The bedrooms are furnished according to the fashion of the period. There is a French encyclopedia in the library. In the working room, there exists a working table made of oak and a writing set of Ataturk. Bronze statues, vases, and oil painting pictures ornament the rooms. The floors are covered with beautiful Isparta and Usak carpets as well.
Balcova, on the road to Cesme, is one of Turkey's largest thermal spas, with excellent facilities for guests.
Camalti, 15 km west of Karsiyaka, is an area of coastal marshes and salt fields that is preserved as an important bird sanctuary -Izmir Birds Paradise worth visiting. Enthusiasts can spot many species, including flamingos and pelicans.
The Yamanlar Camligi, a pine forest near the lovely Karagol Lake, 40 km northeast of Karsiyaka, 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 away) which lies in the Karabel Pass.
On the highest point above the city, Belkahve overlooks the beautiful gulf and is a relaxing spot to enjoy a cup of Turkish Coffee. A favorite haunt of Ataturk's, it is now the site of the largest statue in his honor.
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 Cesme Peninsula, lapped by the waters of the Aegean Sea, lies west of the city. The name 'Cesme', 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 away from the city. Today the town is a popular holiday ' resort with excellent accommodations and restaurants. The 16th-century caravanserai near the fortress, built by Suleyman the Magnificent, has been converted into a hotel, while the 19th century Church of Hagios Haralambos has been restored as the Emir Caka 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. Cesme hosts an annual International Song Contest in the summer. Also, weekly ferry lines run from Cesme to Venice. The very popular holiday center 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 Ilica Bay, the colorful International Cakabey Optimist Yacht race is held every year in July.
Ildiri, a quiet seaside village 20 km northeast of Cesme, 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 Cesme 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 Cesme, some of the region's best fish restaurants border the quay of the lively marina. Tourists are attracted by the variety of Ciftlik'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 Altinkum Plaj (Golden Beach).
Windmills, some of which have been converted into attractive restaurants, dot the hill above Alacati, a delightful and typical Aegean town. Alacati lies to the south island from Ilıca and the coast; a couple of kilometers 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 Guvendik hill afford a marvelous 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, Mordogan and Karaburun. At Karaburun, pleasant hotels, tea gardens and fish restaurants sit between the beautiful mountain backdrop and the clear, clean water. From Manastir Mountain, you can enjoy an unforgettable view of the Karaburun coast, the Foca coastline opposite, and the entrance to the Gulf of Izmir.
On the southern side of the Cesme Peninsula, near the town of Seferihisar, is the small picturesque marina of Sıgacik. This important yachting center 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.
History of Museum Building
The building has been constructed in the 19th century in Neoclassical style, on a sloped terrace. This building is known to be used as a hospital in 1831 (St. Roch Hospital) and to be converted into a care house for poor Christian families by being repaired by the French in 1845. The same building has been used as the Sanitation Institution and health directorate later. On December 2nd, 1984, it has been transferred to the Ministry of Culture and Tourism for being arranged as ethnography museum.
Historical Past and Establishment of the Museum
The ethnographic works were exhibited in the lower floor of Ataturk and Ethnography Museum since October 29th, 1978. After that date, the old health directorate, which has been restored between the years 1985 - 1987 has been opened to service as ethnography museum.
Ethnographic works are exhibited and arranged together with the works in the warehouses that are not exhibited and the ethnographic works transferred from the museum directorates of the neighboring locations.
The museum building is constructed on three floors over the ground floor. The 1st and 2nd floors are used as exhibition halls and the 3rd floor is used as a warehouse, laboratory, photography studio and office.
In the exhibition, giving sections from social life and its surroundings in the 19th century is targeted. For this reason, our hand arts such as tin processing, bath clog production, pottery, blue bead production, wooden printing, carpet weaving, ropery, felt production and leather processing, which is about to disappear today due to industrialization is exhibited and introduced.
Exhibition on the 1st Floor:
On the right side, in the 1st section, 19th-century guest room hand ornaments, bath sets and in the 2nd section, blue bead furnace and samples, first Turkish pharmacy of the province (Ittihat Pharmacy), felt processing, bath clog production and tin processing are exhibited. The famous sherbet maker (Demirhindi) is exhibited to the visitors from the century it lived. In the 3rd section, Menemen pottery gear and products, leather processing, camel and camel fights, public games, Aegean men and their clothes are exhibited. In the embedded showcases in the internal parts of the halls, money bags, mother - of - pearl inlaid goods, glass, and handmade ornaments are exhibited.
2nd Floor Exhibition
In the 1st section, 19th-century bride room, wedding dress showcase, living room, Sunna room, and kitchen goods are exhibited. In the 2nd section, Aegean Region bride heads, ornamental goods of women, Ottoman period coins, handwritten books, and writing sets are exhibited.
Hisar Mosque is the largest and oldest mosque in the city. 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 are Salepcioglu (20th century), Sadirvan (17th century with 19th-century restorations) and Kemeralti (17th century); all are situated close to the Kemeralti Quarter.
The excavations at Bayrakli have unearthed a temple dedicated to Athena, and the wall of the Ionian city which flourished here between the seventh and fifth centuries BC. Pottery dating to the third millennium BC 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 the area today. The castle offers an excellent vantage point to enjoy the magnificent view of the gulf.
An 18th century Ottoman inn, the Kizlaragasi Han, a fine example of the architecture of the period, is being restored to its former glory.
The symbol of Izmir, Saat Kulesi (Clock Tower) stands in Konak Square - the heart of the city. A gift from the Sultan Abdulhamid, and built-in 1901, it is decorated in an elaborate; late-Ottoman style.
Restored old houses fill the old Asansor quarter, also known as the Jewish quarter. In this quarter, Dario Moreno Sokagi is the main pedestrian street to the Asansor, 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 Asansor restaurant offers a beautiful view of the city.
If you find yourself on Havra Sokak in Kemeralti, notice the old buildings and synagogues.
In the center of Cumhuriyet Meydani, or Republic Square, stands the Ataturk Monument, an impressive statue of Ataturk sitting on a horse and facing the sea. Built in 1933, the monument commemorates the liberation of the city by Turkish Forces.
Standing in Karsiyaka, The Flying Dolphins is a monument that symbolizes friendship and brotherhood.
Kulturpark, the main natural park of the city, offers many different activities. It is the site of the International Izmir Fair and contains an amusement park, zoo, restaurant, and quiet gardens.
Olaf Palme Park, situated in Karsiyaka, is a relaxing place to stop. It also offers some sports facilities. Next door, Adnan Saygun Park, a center for artistic activities, contains an amphitheater 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 the bay.
Turgut Ozal Recreation Park, located in Bayrakli, offers a number of recreational and sporting activities.
Art, Culture and Entertainment
For many years, it has enjoyed a reputation as a cosmopolitan and cultural city. The Izmir Cultural Center hosts performances of opera, ballet and musical concerts, and Izmir is home to the Aegean Philharmonic Orchestra as well as a thriving theatrical scene. During the annual Izmir 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.
Izmir 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; afterward, spend the evening absorbing the lively atmosphere of the bars and cafes around Passport Pier.
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 sultanas for which Izmir is famous. The fish restaurants in this colorful area serve up local specialties; tranca and cipura, two types of sea bream. The best modern and most elegant shops line the Kordon Promenades in Alsancak, Karsiyaka and Cumhuriyet Avenue.