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İzmir, historically Smyrnamarker, is Turkeymarker's third most populous city and the country's second largest port city after Istanbulmarker. It is located along the outlying waters of the Gulf of İzmirmarker, by the Aegean Seamarker. It is the seat of İzmir Provincemarker, which has an area of 7350 km2. The city of İzmir is composed of twelve metropolitan districts (Balçova, Bayraklımarker, Bornova, Buca, Çiğli, Gaziemir, Güzelbahçemarker, Karabağlar, Karşıyakamarker, Konak, Menemenmarker, Narlıdere, and Torbalı), each with its own distinct features and temperament, but all headed by the Mayor of İzmir. The total population of the metropolitan municipality was 3,795,978 by the end of 2008. The central area of the city consists of nine of those districts with a total area of , and a population of 2,606,294.

Main features

İzmir has almost 3,500 years of urban past, and possibly that much more of advanced human settlement. Its port, privatized in 2007 , is Turkey's first port for exports in terms of the freight handled and its free zone, a Turkish-U.S.marker joint-venture established in 1990, is the leader among the twenty in Turkey. Its workforce, and particularly its rising class of young professionals, concentrated either in the city or in its immediate vicinity (such as in Manisa), and under either larger companies or SME, affirm their name in an increasingly wider global scale and intensity. İzmir is widely regarded as one of the most progressive Turkish cities in terms of its values, lifestyle, dynamism and gender roles. Politically, it is considered a stronghold of the Republican People's Party.

Cafés along the historic Pasaport Quay (1877) at the port of İzmir.
The city hosts an international arts festival during June and July, and İzmir International Fairmarker, one of the city's many fair and exhibition events centered around but not limited to Kültürpark, is held in the beginning of September every year. İzmir is served by national and international flights through Adnan Menderes Airportmarker and there is a modern rapid transit line running from the southwest to the northeast. İzmir hosted the Mediterranean Games in 1971 and the World University Games (Universiade) in 2005. It had a running bid submitted to the BIE to host the Universal Expo 2015, in March, 2008, that was lost to Milan. Modern İzmir also incorporates the nearby ancient cities of Ephesusmarker, Pergamon, Sardismarker and Klazomenai, and centers of international tourism such as Kuşadasımarker, Çeşmemarker, Mordoğanmarker and Foçamarker.

Despite its advantageous location and its heritage, İzmir has suffered until recently, as one author puts it, from "sketchy understanding" in the eyes of outsiders. When the Ottomans took over İzmir in the 15th century they did not inherit compelling historical memories, unlike the two other keys of the trade network, namely Istanbul and Aleppomarker. Its emergence as a major international port as of the 17th century was largely a result of the attraction it exercised over foreigners, and the city's European orientation. Very different people found İzmir attractive over the ages and the city has always been governed by fresh inspirations, including for the very location of its center, and is quick to adopt novelties and projects.

Names and etymology

The name of a locality called Ti-smurna is mentioned in some of the Level II tablets from the Assyrian colony in Kültepemarker (first half of the 2nd millennium B.C.), with the prefix ti- identifying a proper name, although it is not established with certainty that this name refers to İzmir.

The region of İzmir was situated on the southern fringes of the "Yortan culture" in Anatolia's prehistory, the knowledge of which is almost entirely drawn from its cemeteries , and in the second half of the 2nd millennium B.C., in the western end of the extension of the yet largely obscure Arzawa Kingdom, an offshoot and usually a dependency of the Hittites, who themselves spread their direct rule as far as the coast during their Great Kingdom. That the realm of the local Luwian ruler who legated the 13th century B.C. Kemalpaşamarker Karabel rock carving at a distance of only from İzmir was called Mira may also leave ground for association with the city's name.

The newest rendering in Greek of the city's name we know is the Aeolic Greek Mýrrha, corresponding to the later Ionian and Attic Σμύρνα (Smýrna) or Σμύρνη (Smýrnē), both presumably descendants of a Proto-Greek form *Smúrnā. Some would see in the city's name a reference to the name of an Amazon called Smyrna who would have seduced Theseus, leading him to name the city in her honor. Other link the name to Myrrha commifera shrub, a plant that produces the aromatic resin called myrrh and is indigenous to the Middle East and northeastern Africa. The Romans took this name over as Smyrna which is the name still used in English when referring to the city in pre-Turkish periods. The name İzmir (Ottoman Turkish: إزمير İzmir) is the modern Turkish version of the same name. In Greek it is Σμύρνη (Smýrni), Իզմիր (Izmir) in Armenian, Smirne in Italian, Esmirna in Spanish, Smyrne in French, and Izmir (without the Turkish dotted İ) in Ladino. In English, the city was called Smyrna until the Turkish Postal Service Law of 28 March 1930, upon which the name Izmir was also adopted in foreign languages.


Ancient age

The city is one of the oldest settlements of the Mediterraneanmarker basin. The 2004 discovery of Yeşilova Höyük and the neighboring höyük of Yassıtepe, situated in the plain of Bornova, reset the starting date of the city's past further back than was previously thought. The findings of the two seasons of excavations carried out in Yeşilova Höyük by a team of archaeologists from İzmir's Ege University indicate three levels, two of which are prehistoric. Level 2 bears traces of early to mid-Chalcolithic, and the Level 3 of Neolithic settlements. These two levels would have been inhabited by the indigenous peoples of İzmir, very roughly, between 6500 to 4000 BC. With the seashore drawing away in time, the site was later used as a cemetery (several graves containing artifacts dating, roughly, from 3000 BC were found).

By 1500 BC the region fell under the influence of the Central Anatolian Hittite Empire. The Hittites possessed a script and several localities near İzmir were mentioned in their records. The first settlement to have commanded the Gulfmarker as a whole is recorded, in a semi-legendary manner, to have been founded on top of Mount Yamanlar, to the northeast of the inner gulf. In connection with the silt brought by the streams which join the sea along the coastline, the settlement to form later the core of ""Old Smyrna" was founded on the slopes of the same mountain, on a hill (then a small peninsula connected to the mainland by a small isthmus) in the present-day quarter of Bayraklımarker. Bayraklı settlement is thought to have stretched back in time as far as the 3rd millennium BC. It rose up to become one of the most advanced cultures in early Anatolianmarker history and on a par with Troymarker. The presence of a vineyard of İzmir's Wine and Beer Factory on this hill, also called Tepekule, prevented the urbanization of the site and facilitated the excavations that started in the 1960s by Ekrem Akurgal.

However, in the 1200s BC, invasions from the Balkans (so called sea people) destroyed Troymarker VII. Central and Western Anatoliamarker fell back into a Dark Age that lasted until the emergence of the Phrygian civilization in the 8th century BC. The oldest house discovered in Bayraklı is dated to 925 and 900 BC. The walls of this well-preserved house ( ), consisting of one small room typical of the Iron Age, were made of sun-dried bricks and the roof of the house was made of reeds. Around that time, people started to protect the city with thick rampart made of sun-dried bricks. From then on Smyrna achieved an identity of city-state. About 1,000 lived inside the city walls, with others living in near-by villages, where fields, olive trees, vineyards, and the workshops of potters and stonecutters were located. People generally made their living through agriculture and fishing.


Homer, referred to as Melesigenes which means "Child of Meles Brook" is said to have been born in Smyrna. Combined with written evidence, it is generally admitted that Smyrnamarker and Chiosmarker put forth the strongest arguments in claiming Homer and the main belief is that he was born in Ionia. A River Meles, still carrying the same name, is located within the city of İzmir, although association with the Homeric river is subject to controversy.,

Old Smyrna

The term "Old Smyrna" is used to describe the Greek city-state of the classical era located at the urban settlement in Tepekule, Bayraklı, to make a distinction with Smyrna re-built later on the slopes of Pagosmarker (present-day Kadifekalemarker). Greek settlement in Old Smyrna is attested by the presence of pottery dating from about 1000 BC onwards and the most ancient ruins preserved to our day date back to 725-700 BC. The most important sanctuary of Old Smyrna was the Temple of Athena, dates to 640-580 BC and restored somewhat today. Smyrna by this point was no longer a small town, but an urban center that took part in the Mediterraneanmarker trade. The city was settled at first by the Aeolians, but shortly thereafter seized by the Ionians and Smyrna was added to the twelve Ionian cities. As such, the city set out on its way to become one of the most prominent cultural and commercial centers of that period in the Mediterranean basin and reached its peak was between 650-545 BC.

The oldest model of a many-roomed-type house of this period was found in Old Smyrna. Known to be the oldest house having so many rooms under its roof, this house was built in the second half of 7th century BC. The house has two floors and has five rooms with a courtyard. The houses before this type were composed of megarons standing adjacent to each other. Smyrna was built on the Hippodamian system in which streets run north-south and east-west and intersect at right angles. The houses all faced to the south. This city plan followed a pattern familiar in the Near East. The city plan in the Bayraklı höyük (mound) is the earliest example of this type in the Western Hemispheremarker. The most ancient paved streets of the Ionian civilization have been discovered in ancient Smyrna.


The city's portuary position near their capital attracted the Lydians to Smyrna. The army of Lydia's Mermnad dynasty conquered the city some time around 610-600 BC and is reported to have burned and destroyed parts of the city, although recent analyses on the remains in Bayraklı demonstrate that the temple has been in continuous use or was very quickly repaired under Lydian rule.
Agora of Smyrna
Agora of Smyrna


Soon afterwards, an invasion from outside Anatolia, that of the Persian Empire, effectively ended Old Smyrna's history as an urban center of note. The Persian Emperor Cyrus the Great attacked the coastal cities of the Aegeanmarker after having conquered Sardismarker, the capital of Lydia. As a result, old Smyrna was destroyed in 545 BC.

Alexander the Great

Alexander the Great re-founded the city around 340 BC. Alexander had defeated the Persians in several battles and finally the Emperor Darius III himself at Issus in 333 BC. The cities of the region witnessed a great resurgence in their population. Old Smyrna on a small hill by the sea was sufficient only for a few thousand people. Therefore, the slopes of Mount Pagosmarker (Kadifekalemarker) was chosen for the foundation of the new city, for which Alexander is credited.


In 133 BC, When Eumenes III, the last king of the Attalid dynasty of Pergamum, was about to die without an heir, he willed his kingdom to Rome, and this included Smyrna. After it came under Roman rule, Smyrna enjoyed a golden period for the second time. Near the close of the first century AD, when Smyrna appeared as one of seven cities of Asia addressed in the Book of Revelation, Smyrna had a Christian congregation undergoing persecution from the city's Jews (Revelation 2:9). In contrast to several of the other churches, Christ had nothing negative to say about this church. He did, however, predict that the persecution will continue and urged them, "Be faithful to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life" (Revelation 2:10). Persecution of Christians continued into the second century, as documented by the martyrdom of Polycarp, bishop of Smyrna, in 155 AD.

Due to the importance that the city achieved, the Roman emperors who came to Anatoliamarker also visited Smyrna. Emperor Hadrian also visited Smyrna in his journey from 121 to 125. He ordered the construction of a silo near the docks.

In 178 AD the city was devastated by an earthquake. Considered to be one of the most severe disasters that the city has faced in its history, the earthquake razed the town to the ground. The destruction was so great that the support of the Empire for rebuilding was necessary. Emperor Marcus Aurelius contributed greatly to the rebuilding activities and the city was re-founded again. The state agora as restored during this period.

Various works of architecture are thought to have been built in the city during the Roman Empire period. The streets were completely paved with stones, and paved streets became preponderant in the city.

After the Roman Empire's division into two distinct entities, Smyrna became a territory of the Eastern Roman Empire. It preserved its status as a notable religious center in the early times of the Byzantine Empire. However, the city did decrease in size greatly during Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Age, never returning to the Roman levels of prosperity.

Smyrna becomes İzmir

Çaka Bey and the Seljuk Turks

Turks first captured Smyrna under the Seljuk commander Çaka Bey in 1076, along with Klazomenai, Foçamarker and a number of Aegean Islands. Çaka Bey used İzmir as a base for naval raids. After his death in 1102, the city and the neighboring region was recaptured by the Byzantine Empire. The port city was then captured by the Knights of Rhodes when Constantinoplemarker was conquered by the Crusaders in 1204, but the Nicaean Empire would reclaim possession of the city soon afterwards, albeit by according vast concessions to Genoese allies who kept one of the city's castles.

The sons of Aydın

Smyrna was recaptured by the Turks in early 14th century when, Umur Bey, the son of the founder of the Beylik of Aydın captured first the upper fort of Kadifekalemarker, and then the lower port castle of Ok Kalesi. As Çaka Bey had done two centuries before, Umur Bey used the city as a base for naval raids. In 1344, the Genoese took back the lower castle in a surprise attack. A sixty-year period of uneasy cohabitation between the two powers followed Umur Bey's death.

Ottoman Empire

Upper city of İzmir was captured from Aydınoğlu rulers by the Ottomans for the first time in 1389 by Bayezid I, who led his armies toward the five Western Anatolian Turkish Beyliks in the winter of the same year he had ascended the throne. The Ottoman take-over took place virtually without conflict. However, in 1402, Tamerlane won the Battle of Ankara against the Ottomans and put a serious check on the fortunes of the Ottoman state for the two following decades. Tamerlane gave back the territories of most of the Anatolian Turkish Beyliks to their former ruling dynasties, and he came in person to İzmir to lodge the only battle of his career against a non-Muslim power, finally taking back the port castle from the Genoese.
İzmir's famous Kordon
The Port of Smyrna, from an 1883 encyclopedia
In 1425, Murad II re-captured İzmir for the Ottomans for the second time and from the last bey of Aydın, İzmiroğlu Cüneyd Bey. During the campaign, the Ottomans were assisted by the forces of the Knights Hospitaller who pressed the Sultan for possession of the port castle. The sultan refused despite the resulting tensions between the two camps, and he gave the Templars the permission to build a castle in Petroniummarker (Bodrum Castlemarker) instead.

The city was part of an Ottoman sanjak (province) inside the larger eyalet (region) of Aydınmarker or Cezaiyr (i.e. the Aegean Islands). Two notable events for the city during the rest of the 15th century were a Venetianmarker raid in 1475 and the arrival of Jews from Spainmarker after 1492, who later made İzmir one of their principal centers in Ottoman lands.

The Ottomans also allowed İzmir's inner bay dominated by the port castle to silt up progressively (the location of present-day Kemeraltı bazaar zone) and the port castle ceased to be of use.

International port city

With the privileged trading conditions accorded to foreigners in 1620 (the infamous capitulations that were later to cause a serious threat and setback for the Ottoman state in its decline), İzmir set out on its way to become one of the foremost trade centers of the Empire. Foreign consulates moved in from Sakızmarker (Chiosmarker) and were in the city (1619 for the Frenchmarker Consulate, 1621 for the Britishmarker), serving as trade centers for their nations. Each consulate had its own quay and the ships under their flag would anchor there. The long campaign for the conquest of Cretemarker (22 years between 1648-1669) also considerably enhanced İzmir's position within the Ottoman realm since the city served as port of dispatch and supply for the troops.

The city faced a 1676 plague, an earthquake in 1688 and a great fire in 1743, but continued to grow. In 1866 the Britishmarker-built railway line to Aydınmarker was opened (the first Ottoman Empire line). By that time, İzmir had a considerable segment of its population composed of Frenchmarker, Englishmarker, Dutchmarker and Italianmarker merchants, adding to numerous immigrants coming from other parts of the Ottoman Empire. In fact, a class of intermediaries, composed of Greeks and, some time later and to a lesser extent, by Armenians, as well as some among the generally poorer Jews, started to take hold. The attraction the city exercised for merchants and middlemen gradually changed the demographic structure of the city, its culture and its Ottoman character.

Gürel Residence and Hilton Hotel near the port of İzmir

In the late 19th century, the port was threatened by a build-up of silt in the gulf and an initiative was undertaken to move the Gediz Rivermarker bed to its present-day northern course, instead of letting it flow into the gulf, in order to redirect the silt.

Following the defeat of the Ottoman Empire in World War I, the victors had, for a time, intended to carve up large parts of Anatoliamarker under respective zones of influence and offered the western regions of Turkeymarker to Greecemarker with the Treaty of Sèvres. On 15 May 1919 the Greek Army occupied İzmir, but the Greek expedition towards central Anatoliamarker turned into a disaster for both that country and for the local Greeks of Turkeymarker.

The Turkish Army retook possession of İzmir on 9 September 1922, effectively ending the Greco-Turkish War in the field. Part of the Greek population of the city was forced to seek refuge in the nearby Greek islands together with the departing Greek troops, while the rest left in the frame of the ensuing 1923 agreement for the Exchange of Greek and Turkish Populations, which was a part of the Lausanne Treaty.

The war, and especially its events specific to İzmir, like the fire that broke out on 13 September 1922, one of the greatest disasters İzmir ever experienced, influence the psyches of the two nations to this day. The Turks have claimed that the occupation was marked from its very first day by the "first bullet" fired on Greek detachments by the journalist Hasan Tahsin and the killing by bayonet coups of Colonel Fethi Bey and his unarmed soldiers in the historic casern of the city (Sarı Kışla — the Yellow Casern), for refusing to shout "Zito o Venizelos" (Long Live Venizelos). The Greeks, on the other hand, have accused the Turks of committing many atrocities against the Greek and Armenian communities in İzmir, including the lynching of the Orthodox Metropolitan Chrysostomos following their recapture of the city on 9 September 1922 and the slaughter of Armenian and Greek Christians throughout the city. A Turkish source on İzmir's oral history concedes that in 1922, "hat-wearers were thrown into the sea, just like, back in 1919, fez-wearers were thrown." The lack of comprehensive and reliable sources from the period, combined with nationalist feelings running high on both sides, and mutual distrust between the conflicting parties, has led to each side accusing each other for decades of committing atrocities during the period. The city was, once again, gradually rebuilt after the proclamation of the Turkish Republicmarker in 1923.

A seaside view from the İnciraltı quarter.


Population of İzmir
Year Population
2007 2,606,294
2000 2,232,265
1990 1,758,780
1985 1,489,817
1970 554,000
1965 442,000
1960 371,000
1955 286,000
1950 231,000
1945 200,000
1940 184,000
1935 171,000
1927 154,000
The period after the 1960s and the 1970s saw another blow to İzmir's tissue - as serious as the 1922 fire for many inhabitants - when local administrations tended to neglect İzmir's traditional values and landmarks. Some administrators were not always in tune with the central government in Ankaramarker and regularly fell short of subsidies, and the city absorbed huge immigration waves from Anatolianmarker inland causing a population explosion. Today it is not surprising to see many inhabitants of İzmir (in line with natives of such other prominent Turkish cities as Istanbul, Bursamarker, Adanamarker and Mersinmarker) look back to a cozier and more manageable city, which came to an end in the last few decades, with nostalgia. The Floor Ownership Law of 1965 (Kat Mülkiyeti Kanunu), allowing and encouraging arrangements between house or land proprietors and building contractors in which each would share the benefits in rent of 8-floor apartment blocks built in the place of the former single house, proved especially disastrous for the urban landscape.

The population of the city is predominantly Muslim, but secularism is very strong in this region of Turkey. İzmir is also home to Turkey's second largest Jewish community after Istanbul, still 2,500 strong. The community is still concentrated in their traditional quarter of Karataşmarker. The most famous figures the Jewish community of İzmir has produced are Sabbatai Zevi and Darío Moreno.

The Levantines of İzmir, who are mostly of Genoesemarker and to a lesser degree of French and Venetianmarker descent, live mainly in the districts of Bornova and Buca. One of the most prominent present-day figures of the community is Caroline Giraud Koç, wife of industrialist Mustafa Koç. Koç Holdingmarker is one of the largest family-owned industrial conglomerates in the world.

Main sites

For further information on the remnants of the ancient city, see Smyrnamarker

Standing on Mount Yamanlar, the tomb of Tantalus was explored by Charles Texier in 1835 and is an example of the historic traces in the region prior to its Hellenistic Age, along with those found in nearby Kemalpaşamarker and Mount Sipylus.
Oteller Street in the historic Basmane neighbourhood.

The Agora of Smyrnamarker is well preserved, and is arranged into the Agora Open Air Museum of İzmir, although important parts buried under modern buildings, waiting to be brought to daylight. Serious consideration is also being given to uncovering the ancient theatre of Smyrna where St. Polycarp was martyred, buried under an urban zone on the slopes of Kadifekalemarker. It was distinguishable until the 19th century, as evident by the sketchings done at the time. On top of the same hill soars an ancient castle which is one of the landmarks of İzmir.

One of the more pronounced elements of Izmir harbor is the Clock Tower, a beautiful marble tower that rests in the middle of the Konak district, standing in height. It was designed by the Levantine Frenchmarker architect Raymond Charles Père in 1901 for the commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the ascension of Abdülhamid II. The clock workings themselves were given as a gift to the then Ottoman Empire by Kaiser Wilhelm II. The tower features four fountains which are placed around the base in a circular pattern, and the columns are inspired by North African themes.

The Kemeraltı bazaar zone set up by the Ottomans, combined with the Agora, rests near the slopes of Kadifekalemarker. İzmir has had three castles historically- Kadifekalemarker (Pagosmarker), the portuary Ok Kalesi (Neon Kastron, St. Peter), and Sancakkale, which remained vital to İzmir's security for centuries. Sancakkale is situated in the present-day İnciraltı quarter between Balçova and Narlıdere districts, on the southern shore of the Gulf of İzmir. It is at a key point where the strait allows entry into the innermost tip of the Gulf at its narrowest, and due to shallow waters through a large part of this strait, ships have sailed close to the castle.

There are nine synagogues in İzmir, concentrated either in the traditional Jewish quarter of Karataş or in Havra Sokak (Synagogue street) in Kemeraltı, and they all bear the signature of the 19th century when they were built or re-constructed in depth on the basis of former buildings.

The İzmir Birds Paradise in Çiğli, a bird sanctuary near Karşıyakamarker, contains 205 species of birds. There are 63 species of domestic birds, 54 species of summer migratory birds, 43 species of winter migratory birds, 30 species of transit birds. 56 species of birds have been breeding in the Park. İzmir Bird's Paradise which covers 80 square kilometres was registered as "The protected area for water birds and for their breeding" by Ministry of Forestry in 1982. A large open air zoo was established in the same district of Çiğli in 2008 under the name Sasalı Park of Natural Life.

Image:Basmane Gar, Izmir.jpg|19th century Basmane Train StationImage:ForumBornova.jpg|Forum Bornova Shopping Center is inspired in concept by İzmir's traditional architectureImage:FaikSarikayaIzmirBorsa.jpg|İzmir Stock Exchange BuildingImage:Faik Sarikaya BUCA SIRINYER HIPODROMU 3.jpg|Şirinyer Hippodrome in BucaFile:KonakIzmirbynight.jpg|The famous Izmir Clock Towermarker at night on Konak SquareImage:Karsiyaka.jpg|Typical residential buildings of the Karşıyaka neighbourhoodImage:Konak Square.jpg|Konak Square, the heart of İzmirImage:Konak 02.jpg|Konak QuayImage:Bostanli.jpg|Gulf of İzmirmarker as seen from Bostanlı, KarşıyakamarkerImage:Sea Museum.jpg|İnciraltı Sea MuseumImage:Underpass.jpg|View from Konak UnderpassImage:Fayton_02.JPG|Enjoying Kordon with a ride on İzmir's phaetonsImage:Izmir Alsancak 5.jpg|Streets of the historic Alsancak neighbourhoodImage:Izmir Alsancak 2.jpg|Streets of the historic Alsancak neighbourhoodImage:Izmir Alsancak 4.jpg|Streets of the historic Alsancak neighbourhoodImage:Izmir Alsancak 1.jpg|Streets of the historic Alsancak neighbourhoodImage:Izmir Alsancak 6.jpg|Streets of the historic Alsancak neighbourhoodImage:Izmir Alsancak 7.jpg|Streets of the historic Alsancak neighbourhoodImage:Izmir Alsancak 8.jpg|Streets of the historic Alsancak neighbourhoodFile:LohnerMansion Facade KarsiyakaIzmir.jpg|A historic mansion in Karşıyaka, İzmirFile:Alliotti DurmusYasar Mansion Karsiyaka Izmir.jpg|A historic mansion in Karşıyaka, İzmirFile:Karsiyaka Izmir SakizHouse.JPG|A historic house in Karşıyaka, İzmirFile:Edwards House (Murat House) Bornova Izmir Turkey.JPG|A historic house in Bornova, İzmirFile:Pandespanian House Bornova Izmir.jpg|A historic mansion in Bornova, İzmirFile:BelhommeHouse Bornova Izmir.jpg|A historic house in Bornova, İzmir

İzmir International Fair

İzmir prides itself with its busy schedule of trade fairs, exhibitions and congresses. İzmir International Fair (IEF), the oldest member from Turkey of International Union of Fairs is held every year in August-September in Kültürpark, which covers an area of 421,000 m² in the heart of the city with open-air theatres, Painting and Sculpture Museum, art centers, amusement park, zoo and parachute tower and other amenities. Aside from this main event, which acts as a central theme for many other secondary events, there are many others throughout the year. In 2007, for example, 35 national or international fairs and exhibitions were held in İzmir around the year and in relation to different areas of activity. These fairs have made great contributions to İzmir's social and cultural life.


İzmir has a typical Mediterranean climate which is characterized by long, hot and dry summers and mild to cool, rainy winters. The total precipitation for İzmir averages 706 mm (27.8 inches) per year; however, 77% of that falls during November through March. The rest of the precipitation falls during April through May and September through October. There is virtually no rainfall during the months of June, July and August.

The average maximum temperatures during the winter months vary between 12 and 14 °C. Although it's rare, snow can fall in İzmir in December, January and February staying for a period of hours rather than a whole day or more. The summer months — from May to October — usually brings average daytime temperatures of 30 °C or higher. On a number of occasions, temperatures as high as 46°C have been recorded in the city.

Cuisine of İzmir

İzmir's cuisine has largely been affected by its multicultural history, hence the large variety of food originating from the Aegeanmarker, Mediterraneanmarker and Anatolian regions. Another factor is the large area of land surrounding the region which grows a rich selection of vegetables. Some of the common dishes found here are tarhana soup (made from dried yoghurt and tomatoes), İzmir köfte, keşkek (boiled wheat with meat), zerde (sweetened rice with saffron) and mücver (made from zucchini and eggs). Boyoz and lokma are Turkish pastries associated with İzmir, the first prepared for commercial purposes and the second to commemorate the deceased. Kumru is a special kind of sandwich which associated particularly in Çeşmemarker and features cheese and tomato in its basics, with sucuk also added sometimes.

Historically, as a result of the influx of Greek refugees from İzmir (as well as from other parts of Asia Minor and Istanbulmarker) to mainland Greece after 1922, the cuisine of İzmir has had an enormous impact on Greek cuisine, exporting many sophisticated spices and foods.


The İzmir International Festivalmarker beginning in mid-June and continuing to mid-July, has been organized since 1987. During the annual festival, many world-class performers such as soloist and virtuosi, orchestras, dance companies, rock and jazz groups including Ray Charles, Paco de Lucia, Joan Baez, Martha Graham Dance Company, Tanita Tikaram, Jethro Tull, Leningrad Philarmonic Orchestra, Chris De Burgh, Sting, Moscow State Philarmony Orchestra, Jan Garbarek, Red Army Chorus, Academy of St. Martinmarker in the Field, Kodo, Chick Corea and Origin, New York City Ballet, Nigel Kennedy, Bryan Adams, James Brown, Elton John, Anathema, Kiri Te Kanawa, Mikhail Barishnikov and Josep Carreras have given recitals and performances at various venues in the city and surrounding areas, including the ancient theatres at Ephesusmarker and Metropolis (an antique Ionian city situated near the town of Torbalı). This festival is the member of " European Festivals Association" since 2003.

The İzmir European Jazz Festival is among the numerous events organized every year by İKSEV (The İzmir Foundation for Culture, Arts and Education) since 1994. The festival aims to bring together masters and lovers of jazz in the attempt to generate feelings of love, friendship and peace.

International İzmir Short Film Festival is organized since 1999 and the member of European Coordination of Film Festivals.

İzmir Metropolitan Municipality has built Ahmet Adnan Saygun Art Center in Güzelyalı over an area of 21.000 m2 in order to contribute to the city's culture and art life. The acoustics of the center has been prepared by ARUP which is a world famous company in its own field.


Notable football clubs in İzmir are: Altay SK, Bucaspor, Altınordu, Göztepe A.Ş., İzmirspor and Karşıyaka SK. Currently there is no team from İzmir playing in the Turkish Super League, but the teams of İzmir were once among the greatest in Turkey. Göztepe A.Ş. played the semi finals of the UEFA Cup in the 1968-1969 season, and the quarter finals of the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup in the 1969-1970 season; becoming the first ever Turkish football club to play a semi-final game in Europe. Altay SK and Göztepe A.Ş. have won the Turkish Cup twice for İzmir.

Legendary 1960s football star Metin Oktay, a native of İzmir, played in İzmirspor, Galatasaray and Palermo.

Despite the current lack of any İzmir-based team in the Turkish Super League, İzmir Atatürk Stadiummarker regularly hosts many Super League and Turkish Cup derby matches, including those of Beşiktaşmarker, Fenerbahçemarker, and Galatasaray.

Karşıyaka SK's very known basketball successes are Turkish championship title in 1987 and won the President Cup same year.

Several important international sports events were held in İzmir:


The following universities are located in İzmir:

There are ongoing plans to set up a sixth, and perhaps also a seventh university in İzmir. The city is also home to well-rooted high-school establishments well-known across Turkey.

İzmir is also home to the third U.S. Space Camp in the world, Space Camp Turkey.


İzmir is served by national and international flights through Adnan Menderes Airport and there is a modern rapid transit line running from the southwest to the northeast. The city is trying to attract investors through its strategic location and its relatively new and highly developed technological infrastructure in transportation, telecommunications and energy.

Connection with other cities and countries

  • Air: The city has an airport (Adnan Menderes Airportmarker) well served with connections to Turkish and international destinations. Its new international terminal was opened in September 2006 and the airport is set on its way for becoming one of the busiest in Turkey. The city-airport shuttles are assured by buses operated by a private company ( web page for İzmir) and along stops that follow two lines only, the first connecting Karşıyakamarker in the city's northern part to the airport and the second between Alsancakmarker in the south and the airport. Trains remain a comparatively slow alternative, the subway that will reach the airport is under construction, while the taxi are not cheap and can cost up to fifty U.S. dollars depending on the distance.
  • Bus: A recently-built large bus terminal (Otogar) in Altındağmarker suburb on the outkirts of the city has intercity buses to points all over Turkey. It is quite easy to reach the bus terminal since bus companies' shuttle services to the terminal pick up customers from each of their branch offices scattered across the city at regular intervals. These shuttles are a free service encountered everywhere in Turkey.
  • Rail: The city has rail service from historic terminals in downtown (such as the famous Alsancak Terminal (1858) which is the oldest train station in Turkey) to Ankaramarker in the east and Aydınmarker in the south. An express train to Bandırmamarker, to reach the Sea of Marmaramarker port city in four hours and to combine the journey with İDO's HSC services from Bandırma to Istanbul is in service since February 2007.

Transportation within the city

Co-ordinated transport was introduced to İzmir in about 1999, the first place in Turkey to apply the lessons of integration. A body known as UKOME gives strategic direction to the Metro, ESHOT bus division, ferry operations, utilities and road developments. İzmir has an integrated pre-pay ticket, the Kentkart (‘Citycard’). The card is valid on Metro (subway), buses, ferries and certain other municipal facilities.

Urban ferries

Taken over by İzmir Metropolitan Municipality since 2000 and operated within the structure of a private company ( İzdeniz), İzmir's urban ferry services for passengers and vehicles are very much a part of the life of the inhabitants of this city located along the deep end of a large gulf. 24 ferries shuttle between 8 quays (clockwise Bostanlı, Karşıyakamarker, Bayraklımarker, Alsancak, İzmirmarker, Pasaport, İzmir, Konak, Göztepemarker and Üçkuyular). Special lines to points further out in the gulf are also put in service during summer, transporting excursion or holiday makers. These services are surprisingly cheap and it is not unusual to see natives or visitors taking a ferry ride simply as a pastime.


All major districts are covered by a dense municipal bus network under the name ESHOT. The name is derived from the E elektrik (electricity); S su (water); H havagazı (gas); O otobüs (bus) and T troleybüs (trolleybus). Electricity, water and gas are now supplied by separate undertakings and the trolleybuses ceased in 1992. The bus company has inherited the original name. ESHOT operates about 1,500 buses with a staff of 2,700. It has five garages at Karatas, Gumruk, Basmahane, Yesilyurt and Konak. A privately owned company, Izulas, operates 400 buses from two garages, running services under contract for ESHOT. These scheduled services are supplemented by privately-owned minibus or dolmuş services.


İzmir has a subway network (rapid transit over the surface in parts) that is constantly being extended with new stations being put in service. The network " İzmir Metrosu", consisting of one line, starts from Üçyol station in Hatay in the southern portion of the metropolitan area and runs towards northeast to end in Bornova. The line is long.
The stations are: 1) Üçyol, 2) Konak, 3) Çankaya, 4) Basmane, 5) Hilal, 6) Halkapınar, 7) Stadyum, 8) Sanayi, 9) Bölge, 10) Bornova. An extension of the line between Üçyol and Üçkuyular, which aims to serve the southern portion of the city more efficiently, is currently under construction.
Basic fare on the Metro is TRL 1.25 but only TRL 0.95 if the Kentkart is used. About 12% of passengers pay cash and the rest use Kentkart, 35% at reduced rate and 53% at standard rate. The Metro carries about 30 million passengers/year and to the end of September 2005 160 million passengers had travelled since the opening in May 2000.
A more ambitious venture that begun involves the construction of a new line between Aliağa district in the north, where a oil refinery and its port are located, to Menderesmarker district in the south, to reach and serve Adnan Menderes Airportmarker. This new line will have a connection to the existing line and it is planned to be finished in 2008 autumn. It will comprise 32 stations and the full ride between the two ends of the line will only take 86 minutes.

See also

Media and art mentioning İzmir

Town twinning

The following is a list of İzmir's sister cities.:







  1. Türkiye istatistik kurumu, Belediye teşkilatı olan yerleşim yerlerinin nüfusları, Izmir Address-based population survey 2007. Retrieved on 2009-01-22.
  2. See also: List of companies acquired by Microsoft Corporation
  3. . See also Life of Homer and Cadoux.
  4. For example, Izmir in the Library of Congress Country Studies (Turkey), by the US State Department, by the UN in legal treaty texts, by the British Foreign Office, in Encarta (first listing is Izmir, secondary is İzmir), in Webster's, by the BBC, by the London Times, by CNN, by CBC, by NPR, by the Washington Post. The Turkish spelling İzmir is also seen in English texts, for example, in the Encyclopaedia Britannica.
  5. Six other cities claimed Homer as their countryman, these are: Salamis, Argos, Athens, Rhodes, Colophon and Chios.
  6. According to Herodotus, the Ionian seizure of the city from the Aeolians had occurred in the following manner: Colophonians fleeing internal strife within their Ionian city had taken refuge in Old Smyrna. But soon afterwards, these defectors had taken advantage of an opportunity that had presented itself when native Aeolian Smyrniots had gone outside the city ramparts for a festival in honor of Dionysos, and had taken possession of the city. They forced an agreement upon the former inhabitants who saw themselves obliged to take all their movable assets in the city and leave.
  7. Marjorie H. Dobkin, Smyrna 1922: The Destruction of a City (London: Faber, 1972; reprint: Kent, OH: Kent State University, 1988).
  8. Lord Byron's notes on 8 March 1810 during his travels into the region indicate: "Passed the low fort on the right on a tongue of land – immense cannon mouths with marble balls appearing under the fort walls. Obliged to go close to the Castle, on account of shallows on the other side in [the] large bay of Smyrna."

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