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Information about Izmir (Smyrna)

izmir1_s.jpg (22175 bytes)This large and populous city (third largest in population after Istanbul and Ankara) overlooking the Aegean coast is the heir to the ancient Smyrna. In appearance it is basically modern, the result, in great part, of the fire which destroyed most of the city in 1922. An active port of call for shipping, second in importance only to that of Istanbul, it is considered an ideal point of departure for excursions in a surrounding territory that has much to offer. One of the most characteristic features of Izmir is its felicitous geographical site, at the foot of the hill on which the fortress of Kadifekale stands, facing out on an enchanting bay, with a natural backdrop of high mountains which in antiquity were a valid bulwark against threatened aggressions from outside.

The scanty remains of the Agora however attest to the city's great past; apparently it was built during the Hellenistic period, even if what is to be seen today certainly dates to a reconstruction promoted by Faustina, Marcus Aurelius' wife, right after the devastating earthquake of 178 AD. Various statues of the Roman period are particularly interesting. Partially mutilated, they represent Neptune, Ceres and Diana.

Another element of particular interest to the tourist is the so-called Kadifekale. This fortress, whose name is the equivalent in English for velvet fortress, dominates the city from what in antiquity was known as Mount Pagus. Its appearance today is that of a structure readapted in Byzantine times even if its origins doubtless go back to before the period of Roman colonization.

izmir3_s.jpg (25876 bytes)The Archaeological Museums of the city contain many interesting finds, which came to light in the course of excavations in various archaeological zones of western Anatolia. Of particular note is a headless statue of a woman from Er@hrai, and dating to the 6th century B,C. Other documentation includes examples of archaic sculpture (second half of the 6th cent, B.C.), expressions of Hellenistic art, Roman and Byzantine sculpture, as well as good example of sculpture from Ephesus (2nd cent. AD).

In the list of other tourist attractions in Izmir, mention should be made of the Kültür Parkı, seat of the annual international fair, the Bazaar, which displays the characteristic craft objects, the Hisar and Kemeraltı Mosques (16th cent.), the caravansary of Kızlarağası and the so-called Clock Tower, with its fine architectural details, situated near the Yahlı Camii (18th cent.).

See also: Church of Smyrna

All of Turkey
English Edition, Bonechi 1993,
page 74
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