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Izmir is located on the coast of Turkey, in the Anatolia region, and is the third most populated city in the country, behind Istanbul and Ankara. Being situated at this advantageous position at the head of a gulf of deep waters, it has been one of the principle merchant cities on the Aegean and Mediterranean Sea.
It was originally called Smyrna in ancient times, named after female Amazonian Warriors, who were allegedly the first inhabitants in the region.
From Lydian to Persian, Greek, Roman and Ottoman rule the region has adapted and therefore embraced a variety of religious, gastronomical, political, financial and artistic changes, which has turned it into the ‘melting-pot’ of cultural diversity that it is today.
It has always been open and accepting to immigration and therefore it is populated by a mixed range of inhabitants, which again, has helped to create its diversity. This has also meant that the city has and still is growing, with housing and industrial areas expanding its size, thus its geographical and financial importance to the country as a whole.
Another reason that the city has grown in popularity is its increase in educational facilities, with many high-class Universities being established. This does not only bring in many top-quality professionals, but also a massive influx of students, which in turn, means an increase in accommodation, social venues and overall atmosphere in the city. One of the best is Yaşar University which has been delivering globally recognised, prestigious degree programmes since 2001. With CEA accreditation, award-winning student mobility programmes, and recognition by global scholarship awarding bodies, the University prides itself on its international reputation and the success of its professional graduates.
Tourism has increased, as the region as grown and become much more popular, thus is a very important financial income stream for the region. Having its own international airport, large port and road access to the rest of the country, it is now being added to many tourism packages of Turkey. Turkish Airlines have regular flights to all Turkish airports, so it is easily accessed.
The tourist attractions of the city and region are vast, but probably the most popular are;
The Clock Tower, which is now the symbol of Izmir and was designed by Raymond Charles Pere in 1901 in commemoration of the ascension of Abdulhamit ll. It was gifted by Kaiser Wilheim ll as a sign of German and Turkish friendship.
Agora Open Air Museum, dates back to the Roman period of the 2 Century AD and was the main square, shopping centre and market place. It has a 3-floor design of arches and pillars, with several statues and other artefacts. Other stand-out features are the large cisterns and sewage system, plus a large selection of preserved graffiti.
Konak Square has always been known as a focal point for locals and is now a meeting point, as it has a lot of recreational facilities, such as; shops, park, promenade and restaurants. It also has a ferry terminal and large bus depot, thus giving access to rest of the country. A familiar site, especially at the weekend, is seeing many locals along the sea front pier area fishing with rods or line.
Asansor (elevator) Building is not only another symbol of Izmir, but a practical way to save time and energy in getting to the higher areas of the city. This free was constructed by the Jewish businessman Nesim Levi in 1907 and is not only an impressive site, but once at the top, provides spectacular views of the city and coastline.
The region is famous for its Mosques and there are many, the most popular are; Yali, Hisar, Kestanepazari, Sairvan, Salepcioglu and Kemeraiti. There are also plenty museums too, including; Archaeological, Ethnography, Ataturk, APIKAM, The House Museum of Ismet Inonu and Railway Museum and Art Gallery.
Kadifekale (Pagos as it was once known) has the characteristics of an acropolis, due to being at an altitude of 186 meters. Allegedly, Alexander the Great, founded the settlement, as he had seen it in dreams many years before. It comprised of towers, walls and gates and is known as ‘Izmir’s First Crown’. From this elevated position there is a great view of Ataturk Mask, which is a concrete relief of the head of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, founder of the modern Turkey. It took over 2 years to build, was finished in 2009 and is 138ft high.
Acropolis of Pergamon (or Bergama as it was known) was the capital of the Hellenistic Attalid dynasty. It has burial grounds used by the Romans, Byzantines and Ottoman Empires. It contained alters, theatres (steepest ever constructed), temples, library, trajaneum, palaces, baths, arsenals, gymnasium and sanctuaries. Even getting there is an experience, as it is accessed via a cable car, which adds to the enjoyment and provides magnificent views too.
Cesme (Port of Alacati) is a very popular region for tourists as it has thermal waters, golden sands, sun, sea, shops and restaurants. The old town is charming too, with traditional buildings, narrow streets and a peaceful, yet colourful atmosphere. Its symbol are windmills on the top of the hill, which feature on nearly all the sovereigns from the area.
The whole region has a large array of hotels, bars and restaurants, which provide access to the wonderful food and drink Turkey has to offer. From salads and fish dishes to coffee and cakes, the gastronomy in this region is said to be the best in the whole country.
A guided tour of the area is recommended and it is strongly advised to use the services of an established and professional Tour Company, so visitors can get the best out of these amazing attractions and this stunning country. Pienti Travel and Tour Operator is the best in the business, so is highly recommended.
Turkish delight is a well-known dessert/sweet and the LOKUMART brand already an established name in Turkey is now looking to expand around the world. The artistic imagery and packaging carefully demonstrating this rich ‘cuisine art’. It accompanies all coffee and teas, but especially Turkish, but is also a delicacy on its own. The LOKUMART assortment is vast and interesting and includes aromas and ingredients to excite all tastes. LOKUMART are activity looking for distribution and sales partners around the world, so get in touch if you are interested.
ATURJET is the local association of the World Federation of Travel Journalists and Writers (FIJET) and is always looking for new members and organisations to collaborate with, in order to promote and increase exposure for the country.
Izmir is a modern European city and region, but is situated in an ancient, beautiful and colourful setting. It is a great place for two weeks, a weekend or a day, but any visit to Turkey, must include, getting a sample of the atmosphere of Izmir.