Izmir – The Third Largest City of Turkey
Izmir is located on the west of Turkey, on the Aegean coastline. It is the most important and the biggest settlement of the Aegean Region, and the third largest city of Turkey.
Turkish people generally call Izmir as ‘Beautiful Izmir’. It is located at the beginning of a long and narrow gulf full of yachts and passenger ships. It has a warm climate, allowing residents to enjoy five months of summer and has a very modern way of living. Izmir is probably the most laid-back commercial city in Turkey. The restaurants and cafes located by the seaside is packed with people during lunch breaks and after work, and during summer months, residents prefer to have a long weekend, starting on Thursday. Out of all the cities in Turkey, Izmir is the most modern one, and it is where the Christians, Muslims and Jews live together.
Due to its close proximity to holiday resorts, such as Cesme , Kusadasi and Didim , you can visit Izmir on the way. If you will travel to Turkey with a cruise ship, it is very probable that you will land in Izmir.
Izmir has a justified fame with its surrounding natural and historical richness, with the districts such as Bergama ( Pergamon ), Cesme , Foca , Kemalpasa ,Selcuk , Tire and Urla . It offers many unique alternatives for its visitors with its geographical location, natural structure, cultural inheritance, beaches, thermal waters, hot springs and rich cuisine mainly consisting of seafood and fresh vegetables.
Izmir’s port is the second biggest in Turkey after Istanbul. It is a lively and cosmopolitan city, which hosts the International Art Festival and the International Fair every year. Izmir is also a candidate for the Expo 2015.
Izmir is a 8,500 years old city. According to a legend, Izmir, Smryna with its ancient name, was founded by the Amazons. However, another legend claims that it was founded by the Leleg people. Within centuries, Izmir hosted many civilizations like Amazons, Lydians, Persians, the Great Alexander, Romans, Arabs, Byzantine Empire, Seljuks and Ottomans. Izmir is also known as the city, which helped spread Christianity. Izmir has a multicultural identity and it units Jews, Christians and Muslims. There are several synagogues and churches available in Izmir.
Districts of Izmir
Aliaga , Balcova , Bayindir , Bergama , Beydag , Bornova , Buca , Cesme , Cigli , Dikili , Foca , Gaziemir , Guzelbahce , Karaburun , Karsiyaka , Kemalpasa , Kinik , Kiraz , Konak , Menderes , Menemen , Narlidere , Odemis , Seferihisar ,Selcuk , Tire , Torbali and Urla .
Climate – Weather
The summers are hot and dry, and the winters are warm and rainy. You can easily swim for five months.
As Izmir is a commercial city, it does not have a high season, the destination is busy all year round, however the majority of the tourists arrive in Izmir from April until October.
Ephesus Ancient City
Ephesus is the most famous ancient city in Turkey, which we really advice you to visit. Although travelling from Izmir centre to Ephesus takes an hour 15 minutes, it is a journey worth taking. (You might also want to visit Pergamon ancient city and the Smyrna ancient city , which are both located in the district of Izmir).
Horse Carriages (fayton in Turkish)
Horse carriages are available in Izmir for centuries and you can still take a tour in Kordonboyu in Alsancak for a small fee.
Boyoz is a pastry that you can only purchase in Izmir, which the locals eat for breakfast. It consists of very thin layers of puff pastry, and has a round shape.
lokma is a traditional Izmir desert. They first fry the round shaped pastry and then dip it into a sugary sauce. You might find stands giving away this desert free of charge in Izmir. Every years on the day that people lost their loved one gives out this desert free of charge in their honour.
Izmir has several thermal hotels available, however the most famous resort for thermal healing waters is Balcova Thermal (mainly visited to cure illnesses).
The majority of the figs that you eat in Europe are being exported from Izmir. While you are in Izmir, we advice you to try fresh fig (only available during summer months) or you can also purchase dried figs.
Things to Do
- You can walk in Kordon Alsancak by the seaside and have a coffee or meal at the restaurants located next to the sea. You might follow this by taking a ride on the horse carriages.
- You can visit the house of Ataturk located in Kordon Alsancak.
- Although Izmir is a trading city, it also has a very relaxing atmosphere and there are large number of people who enjoy the cafes both during day and night time. You can either try one of the restaurants by the Kordonboyu or try cafes such as Sir Winston, Reyhan or Bonjour located on Mustafa Bey street.
Places to Visit in Izmir
Konak Pier is located walking distance to the trade and business centres of Alsancak and Konak. Konak Pier was built between 1875 and 1890 during the Ottoman Period. It was used as the customs building until the 20th century. The building was famous for its steel construction. Recently, it has been restored and opened as a shopping and entertainment centre. There are several restaurants, cafes and cinemas located at Konak Pier. The total area of the shopping centre is 20.000 square metres.
Kordonboyu is the coastline of Alsancak, which has been an inspiration for many poems and songs. It is famous for its romantic sunset, bars, cafes, fish restaurants, elegant stores and for running and biking.
Kemeralti (Historical Bazaar)
Kemeralti is a historical bazaar, which is set between Mezarlikbasi and Konak Square. Kemeralti used to be the most important shopping centre of Izmir during the old times. You can still find many traditional handcrafts, ceramics, wood products, carpets and rugs, leather clothes and traditional Aegean cuisine tastes. The main street, Anafartalar Road, forms and arch as in the old times, the shops used to be lined around the yacht marina.
It was built by Yusuf Cavuszade Ahmet in 1671. This mosque is one of the most important works in Izmir. There is also an old library near the mosque.
It is located in Kemeralti and it was built and opened to service in 1744. Kizlaragasi is one of the rarest works of architecture in Izmir, remaining from the Ottoman period. This two storey building has been recently renovated. You can also visit the Cakaloglu Hani, situated just across Kizlaragasi Hani. Hisar Mosque located adjacent to Kizlaragasi Hani is the biggest mosque in Izmir, built in 1597.
It was built by a Jewish businessman, Nesim Levi, in 1907. The aim was to provide easy access to the upper sections of Mithatpasa Street. Asansor became one of the most popular touristic attractions of Izmir.
Although the centre of the city is Konak, and Anafartalar street is the main street, Konak Square is the business center of Izmir. With the new renovations, it turned into a wider recreation area and became a lively atmosphere. The square has the monumental sculpture of Hasan Tahsin monument , Konak Yali Mosque , Izmir Clock Tower and the Municipality building.
Izmir Clock Tower (The Symbol of Izmir)
It is a meeting point for many people in Izmir. The tower is located on Konak Square and it is known as the symbol of Izmir. The tower was built in 1901 and the clock was given by the German Emperor, Wilhelm II. There are fountains on the four corners of the tower.
Smyrna is located in Tepekule, Bayrakli. The history of Bayrakli dates back to B.C 3000. Bayrakli was founded on a peninsula lying along the Izmir gulf. The artefacts found in the area are from the Archaic Period.
Its ancient name is Pagos. The castle is 186-metre high and it overlooks theIzmir harbour. When the Great Alexander entered Anatolia, he moved the settlement to Kadifekale. According to the geographer, Strabon, Izmir is one of 12 Ion cities in history. The city has a temple, theatre, trade centre agora, stadium and water cistern.
Etymologically, agora means ‘city, square and bazaar’. It was known as the centre of art, trade and philosophy. Agora is from the Roman Period (2nd century). İzmir Agora is the biggest and the best-preserved Roman agora. The building has three storeys and it is full of sculptures of God Hermes, Dionysus, Eros, Herakles, as well as animal sculptures, and marble and glass works.
Konak Yalı Mosque
It is located on Konak Square. The mosque is the second symbol of İzmir after Clock Tower. This elegant mosque is from the 18th century and it has priceless ceramics.
St. Polycarp Church (Izmir Church)
It was built in 1625 with the permission of Kanuni Sultan Süleyman ( Suleyman the Magnificent ). It is the oldest church of Izmir, which is still being used. The murder of St. Polycarp by Romans in Kadifekale is painted on its walls.
St. John Church
The construction started in 1862 and the church opened to service in 1874. The main altar is the gift of Pope 9. Pion. The church is used both by Protestants and Catholic Americans.
Getting To Izmir
Izmir Adnan Menderes Airport is receiving flights from all over the world. To travel to/from Izmir airport:
You can take the taxi from the taxi rank. To both Alsancak and Goztepe, it would cost appx 50 TL.
You can get on the metro from the airport, which takes you to Alsancak.
There are two bus companies that you can choose from: Havas (private) and Public Bus.
To travel from Mavisehir to the airport, you should get on the Bus 200. To travel to Alsancak Cumhuriyet Boulevard, it is Bus 202 and for Bornova, it is Bus 204.
Havas is the same style as the inter city buses. We would advice these as they are comfortable. You can get off these buses at three different stops: Karabaglar Orcaner, Swiss Hotel or Buyuk Efes Hotel with its old name,Karsiyaka Mavisehir.
Izmir Airport has offices for many car rental companies including: Avis, Sixt Oto Rental, Hertz, Sun Rent Car, Yes Oto National and Payless.