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Izmir: the Legendary City

 

 

Situated in the Aegean Province of Turkey, Izmir enjoys a great climate that is attractive for a vacation. In addition, its location has a lot of historical significance, thereby adding to its appeal.

There is an interesting legend about the origins of its name. The King of Cyprus had a beautiful daughter called Smyrna. Her beauty, unfortunately, made her mother say that she was more beautiful than the goddess Aphrodite. In great anger, the goddess influenced Smyrna to become her father's lover. One night, Smyrna encouraged her nurse to make her father drunk before she went to bed with him. When the king discovered what had happened, he drove his daughter away from the palace and pursued her into the countryside to slay her. However, before that could happen, Aphrodite sympathized with Smyrna and turned her into a myrrh tree. The king’s sword split the tree apart and out came Adonis.

Archeological excavations date the first town here to the Bronze Age (between 3500 and 1000 BC). The early settlement was called Smurna or Smyrna.

Besides the interesting history, there are special sites that are worthy of visit in Izmir.

Tepekule (Smyrna)

This is the site of the original settlement that is dated to 3000 BC. The settlement has a small harbor and a grid plan. There are ruins of tombs on Bayrakli Hill that date back to the 7th century BC. This is the birth place of the famous poet, Homer. Silting of the harbor forced the city to be moved to Pagos in the 4th century BC.

Agora

This is an ancient market that was initially built in the 4th century BC. It is located towards the north of Pagos. This was not just a marketplace but also where people gathered for religious and political functions. Massive earthquakes destroyed it over the years, but it was always rebuilt. You will have the opportunity to see some of the excavations that have been carried out there.

Clock Tower

Located at Konak square, the Clock Tower is among the major landmarks in the city. It was built to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Ottoman sultan Abdulhamit I in 1901 under the direction of architect Raymond Charles Pere, who was born in the city from a French family.

The clock mechanism, which was a gift from the German Kaiser Wilhelm II, has functioned for more than a century without fail. The 25-meter high tower is made up of four different levels on an octagon-shaped plan. Four sides of the Clock Tower feature fountains.

Hisar Mosque

This is among the oldest monuments found in Izmir, which dates to between 1592 and 1598. Eight pillars support the large central dome that is surrounded by other relatively smaller domes. The mosque has a single-balcony minaret and two ablutions. You will notice some European decorations because of the restorations carried out later.

There are several other interesting sites in Izmir, among which are Izmir Wildlife Park, Asansor (Elevator), Kemeralti Market and Havra Street.

 



 

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