Sights of Izmir.
In my last report, I wrote that I headed to the observation deck located in the Jewish quarter of Izmir.
To get there you have to go to the elevator in the nice street Mithatpasa Cad. where there are many summer cafes, quite interestingly decorated – in the photo
The elevator takes you to a height of 50 meters for free.
Halil Rifat Pasa Cad, which has the exit of the elevator and Asansor Restaurant, is located up here.
The terrace of this restaurant has beautiful views to the south of Izmir.
On the picture below you can see the south part of the Izmir bay and the promenade, which I will use to get back to the center of the city on foot.
I took the elevator and went down to the seafront.
The Ataturk Seafront is very long and goes through the whole Izmir from north to south. They say it is more than 20 km long.
There aren’t many people, just the occasional fisherman and the occasional sportsman jogging for health.
But no one swims in the sea from the quay – in the first place, it is uncomfortable and the sea has sharp stones, and secondly, it is probably still not a perfectly clean sea.
I have already mentioned that Izmir’s population (almost 3 million) is second only to Istanbul and Ankara, besides it is the second most important commercial port in Turkey, which is second only to the enormous Istanbul in terms of cargo transportation.
Locals prefer to swim and sunbathe outside the city, where there are very decent beaches nearby.
There is also a streetcar along the promenade, but the weather was great so I didn’t rush anywhere and took a quiet walk along the sea.
There is a metro station under construction in Izmir, only one line is still working, but tourists don’t need it because everything interesting is located in the center of the city within walking distance.
All the promenade is well-maintained and everything is quite clean.
Here I turned off the promenade and went into the center of the city.
There is a big market quarter (Kemeraltı) in the central street of this district – Anafartalar Cad, which was formed in the middle of the 17th century.
And in the center of this market among the numerous shops and stores.is a mosque – Hisar – on the photo
This is the oldest and largest mosque of Izmir, was built in 1597.
Its name Hisar (“Castle”) means that it stands on the site of an ancient Byzantine fortress. I did not get to the mosque itself, it was closed for some reason.
I also walked around the covered labyrinths of Izmir Market.
The prices here are lower than in Istanbul, which is the most expensive city in Turkey.
After leaving the market quarter you find yourself in the modern Izmir, which is developing and being built quite briskly
In the picture below is Izmir Central Station. I traveled around Turkey by bus, but I also had to take trains a couple of times. It was from this station that I would take the train to the next city, Selcuk.
From the train station I headed in the direction of the central Park of Culture and Recreation.
Ten minutes from the train station and I’ve already walked into the park – in the photo
The park is beautiful, not very big, but with tall palm trees, ponds, sculptures, alleys and fountains.
It’s a nice place to take a break.
After the park I headed towards the church of St. Polycarp
St. Polycarp’s Church – pictured, is among the tall skyscrapers of Izmir.
As I expected I did not get into it, it is not clear how it works, but still I made the attempt.
The church is considered the oldest structure in the city.
It was built in honor of St. Polycarp, who was martyred by the ancient Romans on this site in 155.
Now this saint is recognized as the patron saint of Izmir. During the reign of Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent in 1520, the church was reconstructed but was never turned into a mosque.
On the internet they write that it is open from 15.00-17.00, others from 17.00-19.00, but as I said, it still turned out to be closed. I went there at 16:30. They say that it is very beautiful inside – here is a photo from the internet.
Then I went to the Republic Square, in the center of which there is the Ataturk monument
Here you have to add some historical information – after losing World War I – in 1918 the Ottoman Empire broke up, many parts of it were given to European countries – Palestine was given to England, Syria to France, Libya to Italy, and Greece got part of Western Turkey, including Izmir, which at that time was Smyrna, which was always de facto Greek.
To make the statistics of 1912 clearer, at that time there were 244,000 Greeks, 95,000 Turks, 17,000 Jews, 8,000 Armenians in the city.
The Greeks, once they got Izmir, thought that was not enough and began to attack deep into the country and reached the walls of Ankara, where they were defeated by Turks, led by Ataturk.
Ataturk continued the offensive and the Greek troops fled into Greece, leaving the Greek population behind.
After capturing the city almost without a fight, Ataturk’s soldiers and the Muslims of Izmir massacred the Greeks and Armenians in August 1922 (this event is called the “Smyrna Massacre”).
On September 13, a fire broke out in Smyrna, which lasted for several days and destroyed the Christian part of the city.
During the massacre and subsequent events, about 200,000 people died. The remaining Christians left Smyrna in a population exchange between Turkey and Greece in 1923.
So Smyrna became Izmir and the city became almost entirely Muslim.
From Republic Square I took another short walk along Izmir’s waterfront.
At the end of the promenade I stopped by the Agkas Art Center, located in the building of the former French Embassy – in the photo
This two-story mansion has a wonderful collection of paintings and sculptures by artists of the 19th and 20th centuries.
Entrance to the museum is free. It is open every day (Monday is the day off) from 10 am – 6 pm.
So ended my day in Izmir.
The next day, I had to move further south to the city of Selcuk, but about that I will tell in the next report, which you can read – here – “By yourself in Turkey. Ancient and Medieval Selcuk.”
The entire list of 67 clickable detailed reports on Turkey, can be found in my first review report – here – “Self-drive in Turkey. Part 1. Seven days to gorgeous Istanbul.”
Izmir (Turkey) – the most detailed information about the city with photos. The main sights of Izmir with descriptions, guides and maps.
City of Izmir (Turkey)
Izmir is a city in western Turkey on the coast of Aegean Sea. It is the third largest city in the country (after Istanbul and Ankara) and the second most important port. Izmir is a dynamic, fast-growing metropolis with a rich history and a lot of young people. It is a city with a European Mediterranean atmosphere unique to Turkey, where modern glass facades and wide boulevards are juxtaposed with traditional red-tiled roofs and old mosques.
Izmir is an ancient city founded more than three thousand years ago. In ancient times it was called Smyrna. It is a vibrant city of olives, figs and grapes with a rich cultural and historical heritage, “hand” to which had a hand ancient Greeks and Romans, Byzantines and Ottomans. Izmir is a great place to relax: the beaches and the sea, clubs and bars, attractions and ancient monuments. It is a young city with a lot of universities, which is full of energy and is in constant motion.
Things to do (Izmir):
€130 per tour
The most interesting and picturesque spots of the old Turkish city on a guided tour
340 €255 per excursion
Turkish flavor: Cesme and Alaçatı
Relaxing on Turkey’s azure coast and visiting an atmospheric village with flowery streets
Geography and Climate
Izmir is located in western Turkey in the northeastern part of the Aegean Sea. The city is built around a large bay at the mouth of the Meles River. The predominant relief is low mountains and hills. The climate is Mediterranean with hot, dry summers and mild, rainy winters. Snow cover and frosts are rare.
- The population is more than 3 million people.
- Area – 893.13 square kilometers.
- Language: Turkish.
- Currency – Turkish Lira.
- Visa – for up to 60 days is sufficient to have a passport that is valid for more than four months from the date of entry into Turkey.
- Time – UTC +2, in summer +3.
Beaches of Izmir
The Aegean coast of Izmir has several beaches that are located near the city center: Foça, Dikili, Urla, Seferihisar and Çeşme.
Best time to visit
The best time to visit Izmir for a beach holiday is from June to September. If the main purpose is to explore the city and its attractions, it is better to come in May and June and September and October.
Izmir is a city with a rich history during which it has lived through periods of prosperity and decline. More than three thousand years ago, the ancient Greeks founded the city of Smyrna, which housed one of the seven churches of the Apocalypse (the seven early Christian churches in Asia Minor). In 133 BC the Greek settlement was conquered by Rome. Under the Romans, Smyrna reached its greatest prosperity. After the collapse of the Roman Empire the city belonged to the Byzantine Empire, lost its importance and fell into decline.
In 1076 Smyrna was conquered by the Seljuks, but in 1102 Byzantium regained control of the city. After the fall of the Byzantine Empire, Smyrna was conquered by the Maltese Knights, and later belonged to Genoa. In 1402, the city was conquered by Tamerlane. In the 16th century Smyrna was conquered by the Ottomans.
Although Smyrna became part of the Ottoman Empire, Christians made up the majority of the population. After the defeat of the Ottoman Empire in World War I, the city was occupied by Greece. According to the Treaty of Sevres, the city was to be ceded to the Greeks, but Mustafa Kemal and his supporters did not recognize the treaty. On September 9, 1922, the Turkish army entered the town. It ended with the burning and massacre of the Christian population. The town is called Izmir since 1928.
Izmir is one of the largest transportation hubs in Turkey. It is easily accessible by car, bus, train and plane. The airport is located 20 km south of the city and is one of the largest in the country. It has several daily flights to Istanbul, Antalya, Ankara and some major European cities.
There are two train stations in Izmir: Basmane and Alsanjak. Basmane is located in the center of the city and serves regional trains. A metro line passes near the station. Alsanjak receives intercity and commuter trains.
The small Konak Pier shopping center is located on the waterfront (Kordon). A very large shopping complex Forum is located in the Bornova district. In the historic city center (Kemeraltı) you can buy souvenirs and traditional goods. There is also a bazaar.
Bazaar in Kemeraltı
What to try in Izmir:
- Fish and seafood. Most of the fish restaurants are concentrated in the waterfront area.
- Kumru – a warm sandwich with Turkish sausage, grilled cheese and tomatoes.
- Çi Börek or Tatar cookies.
- Tulum Peyniri – a kind of cheese.
- Copsis Kebab, a local kind of kebab.
- Boyoz – a product made of dough.
- Gevrek – sweet bagels, which are dipped in molasses before baking.
- Köfte – traditional Turkish food (usually meat with rice).
In the Alsancak area there are many cafes and bars in small streets in old Ottoman houses.
The central square of Izmir is Konak Square. It is the real heart of this Turkish city and one of its busiest and most interesting places.
The Clock Tower is a symbol of Izmir and it is a 25 meter tall marble structure built in 1901 in the center of Konak Square.
Yali Mosque is a small, elegant 18th century Muslim mosque with colorful tiles around the exterior windows and a slender minaret located in Konak Square.
Not far from Konak Square is Kemeralti Bazaar, a crazy neighborhood full of hustle and bustle. Thousands of small local stores, artisan workshops, tea shops, coffee shops, and inexpensive eateries are located in a maze of narrow streets. It is one of the most authentic places in Izmir.
Hisar Mosque is Izmir’s largest mosque, built in the 16th century. It is surrounded by the bustling shopping streets of the Izmir bazaar.
Asanser is a historic tower with elevators built in 1907 to facilitate access from the lower town to the upper town. It is now a great observation deck.
Kadifekal Castle is the ruins of an ancient hilltop defensive structure whose origins date back to Smyrna. Sections of walls and gates are extant.
The Agora is the ruins of the ancient Greek and Roman marketplace of ancient Smyrna. It used to be the center of the ancient city with a lively bazaar and public buildings. Now you can see the reconstructed colonnade and gates, arches and vaulted chambers.
One of the most popular places in Izmir is the Kordon promenade. It stretches along the sea from Konak Square to Alsancak district.
Interesting places around Izmir
Ephesus is one of Turkey’s most famous landmarks, the striking ruins of an ancient city. It is a unique cultural landscape with heritage of Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine, Seljuk and Ottoman periods.
The most important landmarks of Ephesus:
- Isa Bey Mosque, an outstanding work of Seljuk architecture. It is one of the oldest and most important examples of Muslim architecture in Anatolia.
- The House of Our Lady is a Christian shrine. A small ancient building where, according to tradition, the Virgin Mary lived after the death of Christ and the persecution of Christians.
- Basilica of St. John is a church built in honor of John the Theologian, who lived and preached for some time in Smyrna.
- Celsus Library is one of the symbols of Ephesus, the ruins of an ancient library built in honor of the Roman senator Celsus.
- Temple of Artemis, ruins of one of the Seven Wonders of the World.
- The ancient terraced houses of the rich Romans.
- The Great Theater, a magnificent antique building that seated 24,000 spectators.
- Temple of Hadrian, one of the most beautiful buildings in Ephesus, built in honor of the Roman Emperor Hadrian.
Pergamon (Pergamon) is the ruins of an ancient city on the top of the hill of Kale which is included in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. It was the capital of the Attalid state. Pergamon is an outstanding example of urban planning of the Hellenistic period with monumental architecture, ancient temples, theaters, and a library. The most striking sights are the Temple of Athena, the coolest theater of the Hellenistic period, the library, the great altar, the temple of Dionysus, the agora and the water system. Also the cultural landscape of Pergamon has been diluted with Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman structures.
Şirince is a small village with atmospheric narrow streets and old, somewhat dilapidated houses.
Birgi is a small old town with charming streets and stone houses.
€150 per excursion
Antalya Old Town – Journey to the Past
A stroll through the winding streets of the historic city center and ancient squares, towers, and mosques.
200 €170 for the tour.
Photo date with Istanbul
Capture yourself in the most interesting scenery of the city on a walk with a professional photographer