In the west of Turkey, where mighty mountain ranges rise and merge into vast beaches, lies Izmir. With just over four million inhabitants, the coastal city ranks among the largest cities in Turkey after Istanbul and Ankara.
As a port city, Izmir has always been of great strategic importance for the respective ruling structures and thus very important for trade between Anatolia and the cities of the Aegean.
Izmir is both a modern city and a historically cultural city.
The gentle sea breeze and the Mediterranean climate make the metropolis with its nearby seaside resorts a desirable destination for vacations by the sea. In addition, Izmir has sightseeing attractions, countless shopping opportunities and a diverse nightlife.
Tip 1: İzmir Clock Tower
The landmark of the city of İzmir is the clock tower built in 1901 for the jubilee of Abdülhamid II on Konak Square 74. Sultan Abdülhamid led the fate of the Ottoman Empire in the years from 1876 to 1909 and had to constantly deal with the internal and external enemies of his country. At the peak of his reign, he had the clock tower of İzmir built – At that time, the Turks wanted to get used to European punctuality through such columns.
The clock tower of İzmir with its artistic design is one of the most beautiful timepieces in the country. Several pedestal levels form the base of the tower: in the upper part, four clocks point in each cardinal direction, and above them is a small, though inaccessible, viewing platform.
Tip 2: Agora of Smyrna
The Agora of İzmir is a remnant of the Roman culture in the city. The remains of columns and walls date back to the second century and were built by none other than Marcus Aurelius. The Agora was once built by the Greeks as a cultural center, but has been somewhat destroyed over the years. In those days, the most important decisions in the polis were made here and the daily market was held.
After the Greek buildings were destroyed in an earthquake, Marcus Aurelius had the Agora of Smyrna rebuilt in 178 AD. The ruler left several testimonies of his reign after his death, although he spent most of his reign in military camps defending the Roman Empire against its external enemies. His reign is considered one of the last in which political stability prevailed in the Empire.
Of the once magnificent Roman agora in İzmir, the 13 Corinthian columns in particular are still very well preserved, and the remains of a three-nave basilica also date from this period. The basilica had an impressive size, experts estimate that it was about 160 meters long. Some marble figures found here can be seen today in the Archaeological Museum. Especially acid rain and car exhaust fumes of the city damaged these works of art representing Poseidon and Demeter, but in the Archaeological Museum the statues are protected from these environmental influences.
When visiting the Agora of İzmir, the visitor is easily transported into the atmosphere of the spectacle of Roman society at that time. With enough imagination, the viewer can imagine the buildings in the perfection and splendor they once possessed.
Tip 3: Kemeraltı
If you want to get to know the best markets in Turkey, you can’t miss the Kemeralti Bazaar. The bazaar is located between Cankaya and Konak – these are two districts of Izmir.
The Kemeralti Bazaar takes place in winding alleys. It is a crowded place. Here you can explore the sphere of the Orient at will. You can find handicrafts made in Turkey, attractive articles made of leather as well as antiques. All senses can be delighted in this bazaar: it smells, and you can find unique colors and shapes that you may have never seen before. As is typical for a bazaar, you can also haggle at the Kemeralti Bazaar, so that you can buy some goods at a lower price. This is especially worthwhile, for example, when buying a hookah or jewelry made of gold. It is an ideal place to find charming souvenirs.
This bazaar is also an enchanting spectacle for children – a reason why the Kemeralti Bazaar enjoys great popularity among families. What can also be enjoyed in the immediate vicinity are restaurants serving traditional food. You can also buy good tea in stores in this area.
Tip 4: Kadifekale
Kadifekale, which translates as “Velvet Castle”, is a hill with a castle found in Izmir. The well-known landmark used to be called Pagos. In 2007 renovation was started.
The walls of the castle date back to the Middle Ages. Under the layer of walls there is said to be the work of stonemasons from the Hellenistic period. To the east of the castle gate there was once an ancient theater. Since this was destroyed in a strong earthquake in 178 A.D., hardly anything of this theater can be seen today. There is even a legend about the location, which was gladly depicted on antique money.
The view from this place is phenomenal: you can overlook the Gulf of Izmir and enjoy an impressive view over the city. In addition, you can admire cistern ruins dating back to Roman times, which have been renovated several times. These were once the basis for the supply of drinking water in Smyrna.
Medieval ambience combined with a lot of magic – this is how Kadifekale enchants tourists and is therefore one of the most important stops on a sightseeing tour.
Tip 5: Asansör
Also, one of the most popular sights of Izmir is the Asansör (elevator). The merchant Nesim Levi Bayraklioglu donated this elevator to the people of Izmir in 1907 donated.
The benefit: The residents were to be spared the steep walk up the hill over a whopping 115 stairs in the future. Today the Asansör is one of the most visited highlights of Izmir. It is located in the Dario Moreno alley.
Nice for tourists is that there are exciting culinary and shopping opportunities.