Izmir is the main city in the Aegean region and the third largest in Turkey. Its ideal location, on a natural Lay, enabled the development of a large port which has contributed to the successful development of Izmir. This is one of Turkey most pleasant cities: its streets are shaded by palm trees, the walkways are beautiful, the houses elegant.
The hot summer sun is cooled by winds blowing in torn the sea. Izmir is the ancient city of "the country of the sacred mother. It existed even before the arrival of the Hittites and has been ruled by Ionians, Persians, Romans and Ottomans.
Izmir is the third largest metropolis city in Turkey and with a population of around 3.9 million, the second biggest port after the Istanbul, and a very good transport hub.
The ancient city was known as Smyrna and the city was generally referred to as Smyrna in English, until the Turkish Postal Services Law of 1930 made "Izmir" the internationally recognized name., it is now a modern, developed, and busy commercial center, set around a huge bay and surrounded by mountains. The broad boulevards, glass-fronted buildings and modern shopping centers are dotted with traditional red-tiled roofs, the 18th century market, and old mosques and churches, although the city has an atmosphere more of Mediterranean Europe than traditional Turkey.
The first city of Smyrna was founded 5000 years ago (3000 B.C.) in Tepekule, Bayrakl?. This city had a small sheltered harbor and the houses were built on the rocks. Flourishing rapidly, it became one of the cultural centers of Western Anatolia like the famous city of Troy in the north. The remains of the houses and various objects of historical value have been discovered during recent excavations made in Bayrakl? by Ankara University.
A change of culture and civilization, is noticed in the second historical period of the city between 2000 – 1200 B.C. The vases found in Bayrakl? belonging to this period were made in imitation of Hittite vases in central Anatolia.
Moreover the Hittite reliefs in Kemalpa?a and Manisa near izmir are evidences of cultural relations in this period between central Anatolia and the West and of the influence of the great Hittite Empire.
The excavations in Bayrakl? have revealed that the first Greek Aeolian settlement in Izmir started at the end of the 11th Century B.C.
In this period Izmir developed closer relations with Greece whence the Aeolians orignated, and continued its relations with north western and central Asia Minor. This period lasted till the end of the 9th Century B.C. and was followed by the lonion period which is the most glorious phase of the history of this ancient city. Herodotus mentions the conquest of Izmir by Colophonians in this period. According to legends Homer lived in Izmir. Pausanias discribes the splendours of this ancient city. The period ended in 600 B.C. when the city was conquered and destroyed by Alyattes, the king of Sardis.
For some time the inhabitants of Izmir lived in small villages scattered around the area, but the city in Bayrakl? soon regained its old strength and splendor during the 6th, 5th and 4th centuries B.C. It is believed that in this period Izmir was ruled by tyrants like the neighboring cities.
With the advent of Alexander the Great a new page was opened m the history of Izmir. Inspired by a dream he had in the forests of Mount Pagus (Kadifekale), this famous commander ordered Lysfma-chus, one of his generals, to build a new city for the people of Izmir on the wooded slopes of Mount Pagus.
This city greatly flourished in the 3rd and 2nd Centuries B.C. and according to Strabo (1st Century B.C.) became the most beautiful Ionian city.
It was under the Roman rule between 27 B.C. – 234 A.D. that it attained Its second period of prosperity. In the 2nd Century A.D. The «Golden Road» and «Sacred Road» parts of which are still extant, and the Temple of Zeus Akraios, of which no trace exists now, but which is known to have been standing at Karata? city, recall this era.
In 178 A.D. Izmir was devastated by a terrible earthquake, and restored by the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius upon the request of the citizens and especially of the orator Aristides. .The Agora in Namazgah, parts of which are still standing, was built during the restoration. When the Roman Empire was divided, Izmir remained attached to Constantinople and thus came under Byzantine rule in the 4th Century A.D. Before this period, during the early years of Christianity, Izmir figured as one of the Seven Churches mentioned in the Apocalypse and was exposed to various religious conflicts. The gradual decline of Ephesus helped Izmir to become the leading city and also the scene of many wars of the Byzantine Empire.
Moslem Arab armies which advanced as far as this area at the end of 7th Century A.D. failed to capture the citadel fortified by the Byzantine Emperors. At the end of the 11th century (towards 1076) a Seljuk chief called Süleyman, son of Kutlam?? conqueror of Anatolia, seized the city, which after his death (1086), was ruled by Çaka Bey.
He had a great fleet built in Izmir which he used as a base to raid the Aegean islands, but was killed by K?l?ç Aslan I, a Seljuk Sultan; thus the city was annexed to the Seljuk empire in Anatolia, then recovered by the Byzantine Empire in 1097 during the first Crusades and captured by the Kingdom of Nicaea in the first half of the 13th century.
Then followed a period of confusion. In the second half of the 13th century, the Genoese dominated the city of Izmir.
The Turks of Western Anatolia attacked the city during the XlVth century, and finally about 1330, the Sultan of the Ayd?n Dynasty captured Izmir. Thus a new era was opened in the history of Izmir.
Gazi Umur Bey, of the Ayd?n Dynasty, used the city as a base to raid the Eastern Mediterranean coast. In 1344, the Crusaders encouraged by the Pope raised a large fleet to capture the city from Umur Bey.
After a bitter struggle the lower castle fell (28 October 1344) and the Knights of Rhodes were entrusted with its defence. Umur Bey who tried to recapture the castle with an inferior force, failed in his attempts and was killed in action.
Early in 1403, Tamerlane conquered the town after a short siege. As he left Anatolia, he returned the city to the rule of the Aydin Dynasty but Cüneyt Bey, son of Ibrahim Suba?? who claimed to belong to this Dynasty, rebelled and took possession of the city. (1405-1406).
In 1415, after 10 days' siege by Mehmet I Celebi, Izmir was finally annexed by the Ottomans.
On September 13, 1472, the Venetian fleet commanded by Pietro Mocenigo fruitlessly bombarded the city. In subsequent centuries Izmir was attacked several times during the Ottoman – Venetian wars, but was never lost by the Turks. At the beginning of the 17th century, it suffered from the raids of insurgent chiefs such as Kara Sait and Kalendero?lu, and was devastated by fearful earthquakes on June 10, 1688, and July, 3-5, 1778. However, in the 19th century it became one of the most prosperous cities in Turkey.
Izmir through many centuries, remained the center of export and storage for various products of Anatolia, Iran, and Central Asia which were in demand in European and Mediterranean countries and, as pointed out by Evliya Celebi, its fame surpassed that of two hundred and sixty ports in the Ottoman Lands.
The natural beauty of Izmir has drawn the admiration of all foreigners, in fact Tournefort, a French traveler, who visited Izmir early in the 18th century, described It as «the loveliest Port of the Eastern Mediterranean, and the most outstanding city of the East.»
Izmir has not only retained its importance during the time of the new Republic, but has also developed into a completely modern city of great natural beauty.
The Diana Baths : Some of the materials used in the construction of these baths, which were built around the sources of the historic stream of Meles, can now be seen in the pools of the water supply at Halkapmar. Aristides, the famous mystic, left us long descriptions of the Diana Baths. It is a historical fact that Homer, the great poet, wrote his poetry on the banks of these waters.
The Golden Way : In the Nam?k Kemal Park on the road between Ikiçe?melik and Esrefpasa, there is a portion of the marble street which used to go through the town from the west to the east in the Roman period. In the same park there are also three portions of the city walls built in the Hellenistic age. Another way, similar to the Golden Way, was found under the ground where the Hotel Sad?k Bey formerly stood.
Aqueducts : In the southeast of Izmir, over the stream of Kemer at K?z?leullu, there are two aqueducts built of stone and brick. They were built in the Roman period to carry the water from the other side of the stream to Izmir, and were also used for the same purpose in later times. Besides these aqueducts, there is another one called the Vezir Bridge at Sinekli. In order to see these aqueducts one can go to K?z?leullu, either from Esrefpasa or by way of the Izmir-Buca highway.
- Izmir Archaeoogical Museum