Ancient Smyrna is located on the mound in İzmir Bayraklı. It is a small peninsula that was surrounded by the sea to the west and south in ancient times. The Bayraklı Höyük (Mound), which is about one hundred hectares, is a small hill built on a plain. Smyrna extends over a wide area towards the plain above this hill.
Smyrna is an ideal example of the Archaic Period in Western Anatolia, with the wall surrounding the city, houses with several rooms and baths, a sacred building, a public fountain and a geometrical city plan. Open to the sea on the west and south, surrounded by mountains on the north and a plain on the east, Smyrna is the best example of a defensive city excavated in Western Anatolia. The temple uncovered during excavations in Smyrna is the oldest temple of Athena in Türkiye.
İzmir, including its ancient mounds and settlements, is an open-air museum that exhibits the historical identity of the modern city within easy access for its visitors.
İzmir Clock Tower
İzmir Clock Tower, the symbol of the city, was built in 1901 as the celebration of the 25th anniversary of Ottoman Sultan Abdulhamid's accesion to the throne. It is 25 meters high, has four levels and an octagonal plan. The Clock Tower has column capitals, horseshoe arches unique to North Africa, and the facades of the building are filled with no gaps. It has an architectural inspiration from the buildings of North Africa and Andalusia.
The clock was a gift from the German Emperor II. Wilhelm. The green and red mosaics used in the construction of the Clock Tower, whose construction was undertaken by Raymond Charles Pere, a French architect from İzmir, were brought from Ephesus, and the stones that constitute the main body were brought from Sarayköy.
Kadifekale, (Velvet Castle), the ancient mount Pagos, bears another legend about the foundation of the city attributed to Alexander the Great. According to the legend, Alexander the Great fell asleep under a plane tree while hunting on Mt. Pagos. Two Nemesis appear in his dream, asking Alexander to build the new city on the slopes of the hill where he slept. Alexander, waking up from his sleep, consults to Apollo at Claros. According to the interpretation of the orcale, "Smyrnians who will settle in the foothills of Pagos hill near the Sacred Meles Stream will be four times happier than before."
Ancient Smyrna was reestablished on Mount Pagos int he 4th century BCE, at an altitude of 186 meters above sea level. The north and east walls and five towers of the castle, whose east and south walls were completely destroyed, survived. The height of the towers is 20-35 meters. Inside the castle, there is a large arched cistern from the Byzantine period and the remains of a mosque.
It is an elevator tower that houses two elevators between Mithatpaşa Street and the Nihat Bey Street which is at a higher altitude. It was built in 1907 to facilitate transportation, between the districts due to the 50-meter difference between the streets.
The elevator tower has 3 floors. During World War I, the lower floor of the elevator was used as a casino, the middle floor as a photo hall and the upper floor as a cinema. Standing tall for 105 years, the elevator continues to function today as a cafe, bar and restaurant, attracting tourists with its unique view and offering a unique view of İzmir.
Kıbrıs Şehitleri Avenue
Kıbrıs Şehitleri Avenue, translated as Cyprus Martyrs Street, is considered one of the busiests hubs of downtown İzmir with its colorful shops, cafes and bookstores.
It is a pedestrian street located in Alsancak district. In addition to the shops of world famous brands, there are bars and cafes in the side streets, where many products from ethnic patterned handmade bags to leather shoes, designer hats to souvenirs, clothing and accessories are available. On some of the side streets you can find bookstores and booksellers . After some shopping, you can sit in one of the cafes and read your book while sipping your coffee.
With a beauty that inspired many songs, Kordon is a must-see place in İzmir. It’s one of the symbols of the city, where locals and visitors meet the Aegean Sea, watch the sunset or lay down on the grass and relax during summer and spring.
Once famous for its Levantine houses with marble stairs, and its mansions peculiar to İzmir, Kordon still has some architectural attractions where you can find traces of the past.
In Kordon, there are numerous luxury restaurants, bars, cafes, and pubs that cater to different needs. Horse carriages near the Cumhuriyet Square are the symbols of this area.
İzmir Archaeology Museum
İzmir Archaeology Museum, which was opened in 1927 in Aya Vukla (Gözlü) Church to exhibit the works uncovered by archaeological excavations in the city, today welcomes its visitors in its modern building in Bahribaba Park in Konak. İzmir Archaeology Museum, which is one of the first museums in Türkiye, hosts findings from the 8,500-year-long history of İzmir and it is one of the first museums to visit in the city.
The museum, which covers an area of 5.000 m2, hosts artefacts and finds from the excavations in various parts of the city including Bayraklı (Smyrna), Ephesus, and Bergama.
One of the fascinating artefacts in the İzmir Archeology Museum is the marble “Androklos Statue” dated to Roman times, belonging to the founder of Ephesus, Androklos.
İnciraltı And İnciraltı Naval Museum
İnciraltı has long been one of the favorite places for weekend excursions of İzmir residents. The area, with fish restaurants on the beach, flower gardens and large tangerine orchards, has been revived as a large recreation area with the new regulations.
İnciralti Naval Museum, one of the few naval museums of Türkiye, it’s a place for everyone interested in maritime should see. You can discover the history of Turkish maritime in the museum, which started to serve at İnciralti Pier by converting the Ege (Aegean) Frigate and Piri Reis Submarine into a museum after completing their active duties.
İzmir Bird Sanctuary
Bird Sanctuary, also known as Kuş Cenneti (Bird Paradise) spreads over an area of 8000 hectares within the Çamaltı Salt-pans in Çiğli. Sanctuary is home to over 270 bird species with endangered crested pelicans, pygmy cormorants and black storks, is one of the most important wetlands of our country.
Çamaltı Salt-pans and Bird Paradise are a rare blessing for nature lovers and photographers. Salt-pans, which is at Gediz Delta , meets an important part of Türkiye's salt needs with an annual capacity of 600 thousand tonnes. It is the largest sea saltworks in Türkiye.
Bird Sanctuary, where 50 thousand birds visit annually, is on the migration route of the birds and is also an archaeological site. Bird Sanctuary has a visitor center, bird watching towers, binoculars and a touring bikes.
Foundation of the ancient city of Ephesus within the borders of Selçuk District goes back to 6000 BCE. The biggest temple dedicated to Artemis, the Artemision, of 6th century BCE was built at the skirts of Ayasuluk hill infront of the earliest harbour of the city. It is based on the ancient mother goddess tradition of Anatolia. The later temple is considered to be one of the Seven Wonders of the ancient world. Since Ephesus has changed places many times throughout its history, its ruins are spread over a wide area.
Ephesus and its environs are included in the World Heritage List in four components: Çukuriçi Höyük (Mound), Ayasuluk Hill (Selçuk Castle, St. John's Basilica, İsa Bey Bath, İsa Bey Mosque, Artemision), Ephesus Ancient City and the House of Virgin Mary. Ancient Ephesus has been inhabited continuously for about 9000 years from the prehistoric period to the Hellenistic, Roman, Eastern Roman, Turkish Principalities and Ottoman periods, and has been a very important port city and cultural and commercial center in all stages of its history.
St. John’s Basilica
The basilica built on the tomb of St. John, who wrote the Gospel of John and is one of the apostles of Jesus, is located on Ayasuluk Hill within the ancient city of Ephesus.
It is believed that St. John the Evangelist spent his last years in the region around Ephesus and was buried on the southern slope of Ayasuluk Hill. Three hundred years after St. John's death, a small chapel was built over the tomb in the 4th century. The church of St. John was transformed into a miraculous basilica in the region of Emperor Justinian (527 -565 AD).
John or the Apostle John was the author of the Fourth Gospel and the Book of Revelation. Following the spread of Christianity, the people of Ephesus moved back to Ayasuluk after the 7th century, St. Jean’s basilica replaced the old episcopal church in Ephesus.
The monumental basilica was shaped like a cross and covered with six domes. Its construction of stone and brick is an extremely rare find in the architecture of its time. Raised by two steps and covered with marble, the tomb of St. John was located under the central dome, which was once supported by the four columns at the corners. The columns in the inner courtyard show the monograms of Emperor Justinian and his wife Theodora. Built in the 5th century AD, the baptistery is located to the north of the nave, with its keyhole shape.
The House of Virgin Mary
Virgin Mary House is located on the Bülbül Mountain, 9 km from Selçuk. It is known that John brought Virgin Mary to Ephesus 4 or 6 years after the death of Jesus. In 1891, based on the dream of the German nun A. Katherina Emerich, the Lazarist priests discovered that the house where the Virgin Mary spent her last days was at the end of this research. This event is a new invention in the world of Christianity and sheds light on the world of religion. This structure was planned over and then restored. The house is considered sacred by Muslims, the Pope VI. After the visit of Paul in 1967, the rituals are held every year on August 15, and these rituals attract a lot of attention.
Surrounded by sandy beaches and turquoise waters, Çeşme peninsula attracts beach lovers, surfers and yachting enthusiasts every summer. The route between Çeşme and Kuşadası is the area where yacht tourism is very busy. The small bays which extend side by side in the south of the sub-district of Alaçatıand Seferihisar-Teos Marina are paradise for yacht and surf lovers.
Seferihisar – Sığacık
One of the first “cittaslow” cities of Türkiye Seferihisar is a perfect blend of nature and city life. Within walking distance to a very well preserved ancient graeco-roman city Teos and a still alive medieaval port-castle Sığacık, Seferihisar offers diverse activities in a historical setting.
Allianoi was founded 18 kilometers northeast of Bergama after the Hellenistic Age (2nd century BCE). Allianoi, which made great progress in the century, is known as the homeland of the "God of Health Asclepius". Asclepius was the god of medicine and medical science, who promised healing to the sick in ancient world. Apollon entrusted his son Asklepios to Chiron, who was half horse and half man. Khiron taught him to read, write, and the formulas of drugs used for treating illnesses. Asclepius' reputation soon spread.
Asclepius was also raising the dead. Zeus had Asclepius killed because he was angry with this. The ancient people built healthcare centers with the same name to keep the name of Asclepius alive. Allianoi is one of them. The healing center Allianoi, with 45 C degrees of sulphurous water coming out of the ground, is one of the four largest health centers in the world with this feature.
The district of Foça is situated on the site of the ancient city of Phocaea and is said to have been founded by the very same people who founded the French city of Marseilles, Attalia in Corsica and Ampurias in Catalonia. Around 600 BCE the inhabitants of Foça decorated their buildings, temples and ships with wooden statues of cockerels, and according to a legend, one such statue is still hidden somewhere in the town.
This picturesque village is about an hour’s drive from İzmir. In recent years, Alacati has become one of Türkiye’s most popular summer destinations thanks to its pristine beaches and authentic Aegean charm. With its signature stone houses and cobblestone streets, Alaçatı is a great day-trip destination where you can spend a few blissful hours sightseeing, shopping and trying the local flavors. The village hosts many culinary events, most notably the Alaçatı Herb Festival in April which promotes the region’s very extensive herb culture.
Alacatı is also a major center for windsurfing and kitesurfing due to its windy conditions. Windmills dot the hills above Alaçatı, a delightful and typical Aegean town, with some converted into cafes. There is a good beach a couple of kilometers to the south and many lovely bays along the coast southeast of town are accessible only by boats, ensuring peaceful and relaxing anchorage in this popular sailing region.
The ancient city of Pergamum, an hour from İzmir, was listed in the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2014. It’s a settlement that was rebuilt constantly and persisted in the stage of history due to its strategic location, though it was exposed to many occupations and destructions in the past. Having been conquered by Alexander the Great after Persian rule, Pergamum's golden era was during the 2nd century BCE when it became the capital of the Kingdom of Pergamum. Pergamum was a centre of health, culture and arts for many years, with the Anatolia's largest library and spectacular sculptures hewn by accomplished artists.
A trip to Pergamum, described as "the most famous and magnificent city of Asia Minor" by Plinius Secundus, the 1st century BCE author and philosopher, will allow you to discover the traces of this famous city of antiquity. Asklepieion, at the base of Pergamene Acropolis, was a healing complex built in the 4th century BCE in honor of Asclepius, the God of Healing. With its advanced architectural layout and the treatment methods employed, it earned the title of the most important healing center in western Anatolia.
If you are in İzmir, a visit to Ephesus in Selçuk is a must. Located 75 km from İzmir, Ephesus is one of the best-preserved ancient cities in Türkiye. First finds of Ephesus date back to 8th millennium, however the city founded on the slopes of Ayasuluk Hill was founded around 10th century and flourished as a trading center.
This vibrant city, which once rivaled Rome as the largest city in the world, was home to over 250 thousand people. The Temple of Artemis, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, was located in today’s Selçuk. Today, the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Ephesus and its environs within the town of Selçuk attracts visitors from all over the world. You can explore the city on foot; the site has clearly marked paths and signs.
When visiting Ephesus, be sure to also visit this charming village tucked away in the hills. Eight kilometers from the town center of Selçuk towards the hill, Şirince is an hour's drive from İzmir. When in Şirince, spend some time exploring the cobblestone streets lined with charming stone houses with red tile roofs. Many of these houses have been converted into boutique hotels, restaurants and shops. The restaurants offer authentic Aegean food and locally produced wines. Full of vines, peach and apple orchards, Sirince is famous for its fruity wines; you can visit the boutique wineries and see the wine-making process first-hand.
The Çeşme district is a very popular summer resort, especially among residents of nearby İzmir, and includes historic sites such as a 16th-century castle and an old caravanserai. The white sandy beaches stretch lazily along a road lined with exquisitely built houses, several large hotels and a number of restaurants serving excellent seafood and Turkish specialities.
In Çeşme it is possible to get a full spa treatment as well as a beach holiday, as the area offers a wide range of hotel accommodation, with some of the hotels having their own spas and making use of the area's natural mineral waters. Ilıca, with its white sandy beach of the same name, is the most famous of these hot springs, containing high levels of sodium chloride, magnesium sulphate and calcium bicarbonate. The Ilıca hot springs also offer underwater massage, electrotherapy and other types of therapy... as well as hot mineral pools and baths.
Ildırı / Ancient Erythrai
The ancient city of Erythrai was an important Ionian city on the east coast of the Aegean Sea, northeast of Çeşme. Çeşme, formerly known as Cyssus, was the port city for Erythrai.
The area now known as Ildırı is 22 kilometers from the center of Çeşme.
It is believed that this city, which dates back to the Bronze Age, got its name from the red color of its soil. This town, where trade is prominent, was also famous for the grinding stones it once produced and exported. Excavations in this area were started by Dist. Prof. Ekrem Akurgal in 1964.
The theater, discovered during these excavations and dated to the 3rd century BCE, is carved into the hillside. The aqueducts to the south are dated to the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) period.
During the excavations, the Temple of Athena was unearthed, dated to the 7th century BCE and mentioned by Pausanias. The temple was damaged in 540 BCE. It is known that it was renewed around 530 BCE.
Remains of villas and settlement walls from Hellenistic and Roman times are still visible.
In order to raise awareness of the archeological site among locals and to stimulate agrotourism, the Ildırı Cultural and Art Festival has recently been held at the end of August in Ancient City of Erythrai. The festival attracts people of all ages with music, theater, seminars and workshops. Products and handicrafts made by locals in their homes without any technical tools are exhibited and sold during this festival.
Located at the southeast of İzmir, on a fertile valley lying among the mountains Bozdağ in the north and Aydın in the south is irrigated with Küçük Menderes river. Ödemiş is one of the districts to experience many different types of tourism from religious tourism to high plataues and ecotourism. The district is home to artifacts from Hittite, Phrygian, Lydian, Persian, Roman and Byzantine eras. Ödemiş is one of the traditional and warm districts of the Aegean with its local handicraft, famous meatballs, and colorful bazaars.
Birgi draws attention with its rich culture and natural beauties. Located 9 km from the center, Birgi is known as the cultural and faith tourism capital of the district. Historic town of Birgi takes place in UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List. There are still remains of the many civilisations that Birgi hosted, such as many tombs, madrasa, mosques, fountains, baths, libraries, masjid and residences which reflect the architectural and cultural features of the Period of the Anatolian Beyliks (Principalities) and the Ottoman Empire, as well as houses dated to the 18th century and the following centuries.
Birgi presents one of the precious examples of traditional housing texture dated to the 18th century.
Ulu Cami, the Great Mosque of Birgi, which dominates the traditional urban layout, was completed in 1312 on the order of Mehmed Bey, the founder of Aydınoğlu Sultanate. It has a basilical plan with five aisles extending perpendicular to the mihrab wall, and the bay before the mihrab is covered with a dome.
Built by a leather merchant in the eighteenth century, Çakırağa Mansion is one of the prominent buildings reflecting the architectural and ornamental style particular to the Aegean region in that period.
Pitane is located on the northern shore of Çandarlı Bay, south of Dikili district. Although it is not known exactly when the ancient city of Pitane was founded, it is estimated that the city's history dates back to the Hellenistic period. Today there is no excavation area or ruins where you can see the traces of the ancient city. What makes the area worth seeing is Çandarlı Castle.