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izmir on map of TurkeyIzmir is located in the Aegean province, which, of all the seven geographical regions of Turkey, enjoys the finest climate. In population it is the third city in Turkey.It is located in an area whose magnificent history has made it a tourist centre. It lies at the centre of the most important land, air and sea communication network in the ancient Aegean region.


The wife of Cinyras, King of Cyprus, foolishly claimed that her daughter, Smyrna, was more beautiful than Aphrodite herself. This so enraged the goddess that she made Smyrna fall in love with her own father and one night Smyrna's nurse having made the king drunk, she climbed into his bed. When he finally awoke from his drunken slumber, the king drew his sword and drove his daughter from the palace, pursuing her into the countryside.Just as he was about to overtake her and kill her with his sword, Aphrodite took pity on the girl and turned her into a myrrh tree.

historical places to visit around izmirAs it descended, the king's sword split the myrrh-tree and ADONIS tumbled out. And thus Adonis was born.

According to famous ancient travelers such as Aristides, Strabo, Pliny and Pausanias, Izmir was founded around 1450 B.C. by TANTALUS, King of Manisa (Spilos) to the north-east of the present-day city.

There is also a legend to the effect that it was founded by the Amazons. The one certain thing is that Izmir is not a Greek word and would appear to be derived from an autochthonous language.

izmir turkey


The excavations carried out in 1948 by the British Archaeological Institute of Athens and, after 1960, by the Turkish Historical Association under Prof. Ekrem Akurgal have shown that the first settlement, known as Bayraklı, can be dated as far back as the Bronze Age (3500-1000 B.C.)

The remains of the earliest layer are contemporary with the Troy II civilization. This settlement was known as Smurna, written as Smyrna in ancient Greek.In the 11th century B.C. the coastal city of Smyrna was inhabited by Ionians and Aeolians.

The mudbrick defense walls, which have been dated to the 8th century B.C.,indicate that Izmir was already a city state at that time. The Temple of Athena, thought to have been built between the years 725-700 B.C., is the most ancient example of Greek architecture in the East.

Also to be found here is the oldest specimen of a Greek house, with courtyard in front, and five rooms on two storeys. Smyrna also boasts the oldest example of a cobbled street in Greek civilisation.

The tomb of TANTALUS (Tholos) on Mt Yamanlar is one of the oldest examples of a circular tomb.

In the 8th and 7th centuries B.C. the region came under the rule of the Phrygians and Lydians. The city, which had been destroyed during that period, was captured by the Persians in the 6th century and once again destroyed. In 333 B.C. it fell into the hands of Alexander the Great.

cesme izmir turkey

The city could no longer be contained within its old defense walls and was refounded on Mt Pagos, now known as Kadifekale. By the 1st century B.C. only a small part of the city remained on Mt Pagos, the greater part lying in the vicinity of the harbour.In 288 B.C. the city became subject to the Kingdom of Pergamon and, on the death of King Attalos III in 133 B.C. it became part of the Roman Empire in accordance with the terms of Attalos' will.In the 7th century A.D. it was exposed to raids by the Arabs.

kusadasi izmir turkey

By the 9th century the city had become a Byzantine naval base with a dockyard. Under the Nicaean Empire (1204-1260) it was an important international port.
The first Turkish conquest of the city took place towards the end of the 11 th century during the reign of Kutalmışoğlu Süleyman Shah, and in 1426 it was incorporated into Ottoman territory.

The fort on the shore was rebuilt by Mehmed the Conqueror after an attack by the Venetians in 1472 .

The first textile factory was opened in the 18th century and the first paper factory in the 19th.

On 15 May 1919 the occupation of the city by the Greeks sparked off the Turkish national struggle for Independence.

On its liberation in 1922 three-quarters of the city was destroyed by fire. The industrialisation and urbanisation that characterised the years following the proclamation of the Republic destroyed the lovely landscape that the city had formerly possessed. Today, the old city slumbers in oblivion in a growing and rapidly changing Izmir, but those really interested can still find old houses with bay windows hidden away in narrow streets, old Ottoman hans and magnificent Levantine mansions, as well as old mosques, synagogues and churches.

At the beginning of the 20th century Izmir was a centre of commerce and entertainment rivaling Istanbul and Salonica in the hierarchy of Ottoman cities and famous for its raisins and seedless grapes, its almonds, its horsedrawn phaetons, its spring festival, its "gold drop'' Eau de Cologne and nargiles or water-pipes. The population of 200,000 at the turn of the century has now grown to 3 million. All types of cottons and textiles, together with agricultural produce such as tobacco, grapes, figs, olives and olive oil are exported from Izmir to all four corners of the world. Today the city retains its importance as the largest export harbour in Turkey.

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Photographs by:Erdal Yazici,Gungor Ozsoy,Haluk Ozozlu,Tahsin Aydogmus

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