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|— City —|
|Nickname(s): Pearl of the Aegean|
|• Mayor||Aziz Kocaoğlu|
|Elevation||2 m (7 ft)|
|Time zone||EET (UTC+2)|
|• Summer (DST)||EEST (UTC+3)|
|Area code(s)||(+90) 232|
|Look up Izmir in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.|
|— City —|
|Nickname(s): Pearl of the Aegean|
|• Mayor||Aziz Kocaoğlu|
|Elevation||2 m (7 ft)|
|Time zone||EET (UTC+2)|
|• Summer (DST)||EEST (UTC+3)|
|Area code(s)||(+90) 232|
Izmir (Turkish: İzmir; Greek: Σμύρνη Smyrne; Latin: Smyrna) is a large metropolis in the western extremity of Anatolia and the third most populous city in Turkey. Izmir metropolitan area extends along the outlying waters of the Gulf of İzmir and inland to the north across Gediz River's delta, to the east along an alluvial plain created by several small streams and to a slightly more rugged terrain in the south. The ancient city was known as Smyrna, and the city was generally referred to as Smyrna in English, until the Turkish Postal Services Law of 1930 made "Izmir" the internationally recognized name.
The city of Izmir is composed of several metropolitan districts. Of these, Konak district corresponds to historical Izmir, this district's area having constituted the "Izmir Municipality" (Turkish: İzmir Belediyesi) area until 1984, Konak until then having been a name for a central neighborhood around Konak Square, still the core of the city. With the constitution of the "Greater Izmir Metropolitan Municipality" (Turkish: İzmir Büyükşehir Belediyesi), the city of Izmir became a compound bringing together initially nine, and since recently eleven metropolitan districts, namely Balçova, Bayraklı, Bornova, Buca, Çiğli, Gaziemir, Güzelbahçe, Karabağlar, Karşıyaka, Konak and Narlıdere. Almost each of these settlements are former district centers or neighborhoods which stood on their own and with their own distinct features and temperament. In an ongoing processus, the Mayor of Izmir was also vested with authority over the areas of additional districts reaching from Aliağa in the north to Selçuk in the south, bringing the number of districts to be considered as being part of Izmir to twenty-one under the new arrangements, two of these having been administratively included in Izmir only partially.
İzmir has almost 3,500 years of recorded urban history (see Timeline of İzmir) and possibly even longer as an advanced human settlement. Lying on an advantageous location at the head of a gulf running down in a deep indentation midway on the western Anatolian coast, the city has been one of the principal mercantile cities of the Mediterranean Sea for much of its history. Its port is Turkey's primary port for exports in terms of the freight handled and its free zone, a Turkish-U.S. 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 Turgutlu), and under either larger companies or SMEs, 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.
The city hosts an international arts festival during June and July, and the İzmir International Fair, 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 the Adnan Menderes International Airport and there is a modern metro 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 Ephesus, Pergamon, Sardis and Klazomenai, and centers of international tourism such as Kuşadası, Çeşme, Mordoğan and Foça.
Despite 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 Aleppo. 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 which stemmed from the location of its center and the readiness of its citizens to adopt novelties and new projects.
The modern name "İzmir" derives from the former Greek name Σμύρνη "Smyrna", through the first two syllables of the phrase "εις Σμύρνην" (pronounced "is Smirnin"), which means "to Smyrna" in Greek. A similar etymology also applies for other Turkish cities with former Greek names, such as İznik (from the phrase "is Nikaean", meaning "to Nicaea"), Istanbul (from the phrase "is tan Polin" or "to the City") or even for the Greek island of Kos, called "İstanköy" in Turkish.
In ancient Anatolia, the name of a locality called Ti-smurna is mentioned in some of the Level II tablets from the Assyrian colony in Kültepe (first half of the 2nd millennium BC), with the prefix ti- identifying a proper name, although it is not established with certainty that this name refers to modern day 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 BC, 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 13th century BC local Luwian ruler who is depicted in Kemalpaşa Karabel rock carving at a distance of only 50 km (31 mi) from İzmir was called the Kingdom of Myra 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 Μύρρα 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. Others link the name to the 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 that is still used in English when referring to the city in pre-Turkish periods.
As shown above, the name İzmir (Ottoman Turkish: إزمير İzmir) is the modern Turkish version of the name Smyrna/ Smyrni. 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 (sometimes İzmir) was also adopted in English and most foreign languages.
The city is one of the oldest settlements of the Mediterranean basin. The 2004 discovery of Yeşilova Höyük and the neighboring Yassıtepe, situated in the small delta of Meles River, now 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 the Yeşilova Höyük by a team of archaeologists from Izmir's Ege University indicate three levels, two of which are prehistoric. Level 2 bears traces of early to mid-Chalcolithic, and Level 3 of Neolithic settlements. These two levels would have been inhabited by the indigenous peoples of the area, very roughly, between 7th millennium BC to 4th millennium 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, contemporary with the first city of Troy, were found.
By 1500 BC, the region fell under the influence of the Central Anatolian Hittite Empire who mentioned several localities near İzmir in their records. The first settlement to have commanded the Gulf of Izmir 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 Bayraklı. The 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 Anatolian history and was on a par with Troy. 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 13th century BC, invasions from the Balkans (the so-called sea people) destroyed Troy VII and Central and Western Anatolia as a whole fell into what is generally called the period of "Anatolian" and "Greek " Dark Ages of the Bronze Age collapse.
At the dawn of İzmir's recorded historical era, Pausanias describes "evident tokens" such as "a port called after the name of Tantalus and a sepulchre of him by no means obscure", corresponding to the city's area and which have been tentatively located to date. The term "Old Smyrna" is used to describe the Archaic Period city located at Tepekule, Bayraklı, to make a distinction with Smyrna re-built later on the slopes of Pagos (present-day Kadifekale). The 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. Herodotus says that the city was founded by Aeolians and later seized by Ionians. The oldest house discovered in Bayraklı is dated to 925 and 900 BC. The walls of this well-preserved house (2.45 by 4 metres/8.0 by 13 feet), 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. The oldest model of a multiple-roomed type house of this period was found in Old Smyrna. Known to be the oldest house having so many rooms under its roof, it was built in the second half of the 7th century BC. The house has two floors and five rooms with a courtyard. Around that time, people started to protect the city with thick ramparts made of sun-dried bricks. Smyrna was built on the Hippodamian system in which streets run north-south and east-west and intersect at right angles, in a pattern familiar in the Near East but the earliest example in a western city. The houses all faced to the south. The most ancient paved streets of the Ionian civilization have also been discovered in ancient Smyrna.
Homer, referred to as Melesigenes which means "Child of the Meles Brook" is said to have been born in Smyrna in the 7th or 8th century BC. Combined with written evidence, it is generally admitted that Smyrna and Chios 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 limits, although association with the Homeric river is subject to controversy.
From the 7th century onwards, Smyrna achieved an identity of city-state. About 1,000 lived inside the city walls, with others living in nearby villages, where fields, olive trees, vineyards, and the workshops of potters and stonecutters were located. People generally made their living through agriculture and fishing. The most important sanctuary of Old Smyrna was the Temple of Athena, which dates back to 640–580 BC and is partially restored today. Smyrna, by this point, was no longer a small town, but an urban center that took part in the Mediterranean trade. The city eventually became one of the twelve Ionian cities and set out on its way to become a foremost cultural and commercial center of that period in the Mediterranean basin, reaching its peak between 650–545 BC.
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.
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 Aegean after having conquered the capital of Lydia. As a result, Old Smyrna was destroyed in 545 BC.
Alexander the Great re-founded the city at a new location beyond the Meles River around 340 BC. Alexander had defeated the Persians in several battles and finally the Emperor Darius III himself at Issus in 333 BC. Old Smyrna on a small hill by the sea was sufficient only for a few thousand people. Therefore, the slopes of Mount Pagos (Kadifekale) was chosen for the foundation of the new city, for which Alexander is credited, and this act lay the ground for a resurgence in the city's population.
In 133 BC, when Eumenes III, the last king of the Attalid dynasty of Pergamum, was about to die without an heir, he bequeathed his kingdom to the Roman Republic in his will, and this included Smyrna. The city thus came under Roman rule as a civil diocese within the Province of Asia and enjoyed a new period of prosperity. Near the close of the 1st century AD, when Smyrna appeared as one of the seven churches 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, Apostle John 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). The persecution of Christians continued into the 2nd 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 Anatolia also visited Smyrna. In early 124, Emperor Hadrian visited Smyrna as part of his journeys across the Empire and possibly Caracalla in 214–215. It was a fine city with streets paved with stones.
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 was restored during this period. Much of the works of architecture pertaining to the pre-Turkish period of the city and that reached our day date from this period.
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.
The Turks first captured Smyrna under the Seljuk commander Çaka Bey in 1076, along with Klazomenai, Foça and a number of the Aegean Islands. Çaka Bey (known as Tzachas among the Byzantines) used İzmir as a base for his naval operations. 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 Constantinople was conquered by the Crusaders during the Fourth Crusade in 1204, but the Nicaean Empire would reclaim possession of the city soon afterwards, albeit by according vast concessions to their Genoese allies who kept one of the city's castles.
Smyrna was captured again by the Turks in the early 14th century. Umur Bey, the son of the founder of the Beylik of Aydin, took first the upper fort of Mount Pagos (thereafter called Kadifekale), and then the lower port castle of Neon Kastron (called St. Peter by the Genoese and as "Ok Kalesi" by the Turks). As Tzachas had done two centuries before, Umur Bey used the city as a base for naval raids. In 1344, a coalition of forces coordinated by Pope Clement VI took back the lower castle in a surprise attack. A sixty-year period of uneasy cohabitation between the two powers, the Turks holding the upper castle and the Knights the lower, followed Umur Bey's death.
The upper city of İzmir was captured from its Aydinid rulers by the Ottomans for the first time in 1389 during the reign of Bayezid I, who led his armies toward the five Western Anatolian Beyliks in the winter of the same year he had ascended to the throne. The Ottoman take-over took place virtually without conflict. However, in 1402, Timur (Tamerlane) won the Battle of Ankara against the Ottomans, putting a serious check on the Ottoman state for the two following decades and handing back the territories of most of the Beyliks to their former ruling dynasties. He came in person to İzmir and definitely took back the port castle from the Genoese, giving it to Aydinids briefly reinstated.
In 1415, Mehmet I re-captured İzmir for the Ottomans for the second time and with the death of the last bey of Aydın, İzmiroğlu Cüneyd Bey, in 1426 the city definitely passed under Ottoman control. İzmir's first Ottoman governor was a converted son of the Bulgarian Shishman dynasty. During the campaigns against Cüneyd, the Ottomans were assisted by the forces of the Knights Hospitaller who pressed the Sultan for the return to them of the port castle. However, the sultan refused to make this concession, despite the resulting tensions between the two camps, and he gave the Hospitallers the permission to build a castle (the present-day Bodrum Castle) in Petronium (Bodrum) instead.
In a land-bound arrangement somewhat against its nature, the city and its present-day dependencies became an Ottoman sanjak (sub-province) either inside the larger vilayet (province) of Aydın part of the eyalet of Anatolia with its capital in Kütahya or in "Cezayir" (i.e. "Islands" in reference to "the Aegean Islands". Two notable events for the city during the rest of the 15th century were a Venetian surprise raid in 1475 and the arrival of the Sephardic Jews from Spain after 1492, who later made İzmir one of their principal urban centers in Ottoman lands. İzmir could have been a rather deserted place in the 15th and 16th centuries, as indicated by the first extant Ottoman records describing the town and dating from 1528. In 1530, 304 adult males, both tax-paying and tax-exempt were on record, 42 of them Christians. There were five urban wards, one of these situated in the immediate vicinity of the port, rather active despite the town's small size and where the non-Muslim population was concentrated. By 1576, İzmir had grown to house 492 taxpayers in eight urban wards and had a number of depending villages. This corresponded to a total population estimated between 3500 and 5000.
İzmir's remarkable growth began starting late 16th century when cotton and other products of the region attracted French, English, Dutch and Venetian traders here. 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 Chios and were present in the city by the early 17th century (1619 for the French Consulate, 1621 for the British), 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 Crete (22 years between 1648 and 1669) also considerably enhanced İzmir's position within the Ottoman realm since the city served as a port of dispatch and supply for the troops.
The city faced a plague in 1676, an earthquake in 1688 and a great fire in 1743, but continued to grow. By the end of the 17th century, its population was estimated at around ninety thousand, the Turks forming the majority (about 60,000), while there were also 15,000 Greeks, 8,000 Armenians and 6 to 7,000 Jews, as well as a considerable segment composed of French, English, Dutch and Italian merchants. In the meantime, the Ottomans had allowed İzmir's inner bay dominated by the port castle to silt up progressively (the location of the present-day Kemeraltı bazaar zone) and the port castle ceased to be of use.
The first started and the first finished railway lines within the present-day territory of Turkey took their departure from İzmir. 130 km (81 mi) İzmir-Aydın railway was started in 1856 and finished in 1867 a year later than Smyrna Cassaba Railway, itself started in 1863. That the latter drew wide arc advancing first to the north-west from İzmir, through its Karşıyaka suburb contributed to the development of the northern shores as urban areas greatly. Such new developments typical of the Industrial Age and the attraction the city exercised for merchants and middlemen gradually changed the demographic structure of the city, its culture and its Ottoman character. In 1867, İzmir finally and definitely became the center of its own vilayet, still under its neighbor Aydın's name but with its administrative area covering a large part of Turkey's present-day Aegean Region.
In the late 19th century, the port was threatened by a build-up of silt in the gulf and an initiative, unique in the history of the Ottoman Empire, was undertaken in 1886 to move Gediz River's bed to its present-day northern course, instead of letting it flow into the gulf, in order to redirect the silt. The beginning of the 20th century saw the city under the genuine and cosmopolitan looks of a metropolitan center with a global fame and reach. According to Katherine Flemming, at this point Smyrna's 150,000 Greeks made up just under half of the population, outnumbering the Turks in the city two to one. Alongside Greeks and Turks, there were sizeable Armenian, Jewish, and Levantine communities in the city.
Following the defeat of the Ottoman Empire in World War I, the victors had, for a time, intended to carve up large parts of Anatolia under respective zones of influence and offered the western regions of Turkey to Greece with the Treaty of Sèvres. On 15 May 1919 the Greek Army landed in Smyrna, but the Greek expedition towards central Anatolia turned into a disaster for both that country and for the local Greeks of Anatolia. By September 1922 the Greek army had been defeated and was in full retreat, the last Greek soldiers leaving Smyrna on 8 September 1922.
The Turkish Army retook possession of the city on 9 September 1922, effectively ending the Greco-Turkish War (1919-1922) in the field. Four days later, on 13 September 1922 a great fire broke out the city, lasting until 22 September. The fire completely destroyed the Greek and Armenian quarters, while the Muslim and Jewish quarters escaped damage. There are different claims about who was responsible for the fire, however there were numerous eyewitness accounts of uniformed Turkish soldiers setting fire to Greek and Armenian homes and businesses. Estimated Greek and Armenians deaths resulting from the fire and massacres range from 10,000 to 100,000 Approximately 50,000 to 400,000 Greek and Armenian refugees crammed the waterfront to escape from the fire and were forced to remain there under harsh conditions for nearly two weeks. The systematic evacuation of Greeks on the quay started on 24 September when the first Greek ships entered the harbor under the supervision of Allied destroyers. Some 150,000 to 200,000 Greeks were evacuated in total. The remaining Greeks left for Greece in 1923, as part of the population exchange between Greece and Turkey, a stipulation of the Treaty of Lausanne, which formally ended the Greco-Turkish War.
The war, and especially its events specific to Izmir, such as the fire, one of the greatest disasters the city has ever experienced, continues to 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 Izmir, 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. 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 Republic in 1923.
İzmir has a Mediterranean climate (Köppen climate classification Csa) which is characterized by long, hot and dry summers; and mild to cool, rainy winters. The total precipitation for İzmir averages 686 millimetres (27 in) 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 very little rainfall during the months of June, July and August.
The average maximum temperatures during the winter months vary between the low-to-mid 10 °C (50 °F). Although it is rare, snow can fall in İzmir in December, January and February staying for a period of hours rather than a whole day or more. During summer, the air temperature can climb as high as mid 40 °C (104 °F) from June to September, however the average maximum temperatures ranges between the mid-to-high 30 °C (86 °F).
|Climate data for İzmir|
|Record high °C (°F)||26.3|
|Average high °C (°F)||14.2|
|Daily mean °C (°F)||9.6|
|Average low °C (°F)||5.9|
|Record low °C (°F)||−7.7|
|Rainfall mm (inches)||131.2|
|Avg. rainy days||12.7||10.7||9.3||8.1||5.2||2.1||0.7||0.7||2.0||5.6||9.0||13.0||79.1|
|Mean monthly sunshine hours||133.3||141.3||195.3||219.0||294.5||342.0||375.1||353.4||300.0||226.3||159.0||124.0||2,863.2|
|Source #1: Turkish Meteorological Service, World Meteorological Organization (precipitation data)|
|Source #2: BBC Weather (humidity values)|
|Population of İzmir|
|2012||4 005 459|
|2011||3 965 232|
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 Ankara and regularly fell short of subsidies, and the city absorbed huge immigration waves from Anatolian inland causing a population explosion. Today it is not surprising to see many inhabitants of İzmir (in line with natives of a number of other prominent Turkish cities) 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.
Modern İzmir grows in several directions at the same time. The north-western corridor extending until Aliağa brings together both mass housing projects, including villa-type projects and intensive industrial areaa, including an oil refinery. The southern corridor towards Gaziemir is where yet another important growth trend is observed, contributed by the Aegean Free Zone, light industry, the airport and mass housing projects. The presence of Tahtalı Dam built to provide potable water and its protected zone did not check the urban spread here, which has offshoots in cooperatives outside the metropolitan area as far south as the Ayrancılar – Torbalı axis. To the east and the north-east, urban development ends near the natural barriers constituted respectively by Belkahve (Mount Nif) and Sabuncubeli (Mount Yamanlar-Mount Sipylus) Passes. But the settlements above Bornova, inside the metropolitan zone, and around Kemalpaşa and Ulucak, outside the metropolitan zone, sees mass housing and secondary residences developing. More recently, the metropolitan area displays a growth process especially along the western corridor, encouraged by Çeşme motorway and extending to districts outside İzmir city proper such as Seferihisar and Urla.
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 Karataş. Smyrniot Jews like Sabbatai Zevi and Darío Moreno were among the famous figures of the city's Jewish community.
The Levantines of İzmir, who are mostly of Genoese and to a lesser degree of French and Venetian 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 the renowned Turkish industrialist Mustafa Koç. Koç Holding is one of the largest family-owned industrial conglomerates in the world.
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 the Hellenistic Age, along with those found in nearby Kemalpaşa and Mount Sipylus.
The Agora of Smyrna is well preserved, and is arranged into the Agora Open Air Museum of İzmir, although important parts buried under modern buildings are 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 Kadifekale. 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 İzmir's harbor is the Clock Tower, a beautiful marble tower that rests in the middle of the Konak district, standing 25 m (82 ft) in height. It was designed by Levantine French architect Raymond Charles Père in 1901 for the commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the ascension of Abdülhamid II to the Ottoman throne in 1876. The clock workings themselves were given as a gift by the German Kaiser Wilhelm II, a political ally of Abdülhamid 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 Kadifekale. İzmir has had three castles historically – Kadifekale (Pagos), 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 the 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 Bird Paradise (Kuş Cenneti) in Çiğli, a bird sanctuary near Karşıyaka, has recorded 205 species of birds, including 63 species that are resident year-round, 54 species of summer migratory birds, 43 species of winter migratory birds, and 30 transient species. 56 species of birds have bred in the park. The sanctuary, which covers 80 square kilometres, was registered as "the protected area for water birds and for their breeding" by the Turkish 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.
İzmir prides itself with its busy schedule of trade fairs, exhibitions and congresses. İzmir International Fair (IEF), the oldest member from Turkey of the International Union of Fairs is held every year in August–September at Kültürpark, which covers an area of 421,000 m² in the heart of the city with open-air theatres, the Painting and Sculpture Museum, art centers, amusement park, zoo, parachute tower, and other amenities. Aside from this main event, which acts as a central theme for many other secondary events, there are numerous 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's cuisine has largely been affected by its multicultural history, hence the large variety of food originating from the Aegean and Mediterranean regions. Population movement from Eastern and South East Anatolia regions has enriched the local cuisine. Another factor is the large and fertile area of land surrounding the region which grows a rich selection of vegetables. There is considerable culinary usage of green leaf vegetables and wild plants amongst the residents, especially those with insular heritage, such as the immigrants from Crete. Some of the common dishes found here are the tarhana soup (made from dried yoghurt and tomatoes), "İzmir" köfte, sulu köfte, keşkek (boiled wheat with meat), zerde (sweetened rice with saffron) and mücver (made from zucchini and eggs). A Sephardic contribution to the Turkish cuisine, Boyoz and lokma are pastries associated with İzmir. Collared dove (sandwich) is a special kind of sandwich that is associated particularly with the Çeşme district and features cheese and tomato in its basics, with sucuk also added sometimes.
The annual International Izmir Festival, which begins in mid-June and continues until mid-July, has been organized since 1987. During the festival, many world-class performers such as soloists 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 Philharmonic Orchestra, Jan Garbarek, Red Army Chorus, Academy of St Martin in the Fields, Chick Corea and Origin, New York City Ballet, Nigel Kennedy, Bryan Adams, God Is An Astronaut, 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 its surrounding areas; including the ancient theatres at Ephesus(near Selçuk) and Metropolis (an ancient Ionian city situated near the town of Torbalı.) The festival is a member of the European Festivals Association since 2003.
The İzmir European Jazz Festival is among the numerous events organized every year by the İKSEV (İzmir Foundation for Culture, Arts and Education) since 1994. The festival aims to bring together masters and lovers of jazz with the aim to generate feelings of love, friendship and peace.
İzmir Metropolitan Municipality has built the Ahmet Adnan Saygun Art Center on a 21,000 m2 land plot in the Güzelyalı district, in order to contribute to the city's culture and art life. The acoustics of the center have been prepared by ARUP which is a world famous company in this field.
Several important international sports events have been held in İzmir:
Notable football clubs in İzmir include: Altay, Bucaspor, Altınordu, Göztepe, İzmirspor and Karşıyaka. Recently, Bucaspor have relegated from the top tier, Turkish Super League by the end of 2010-11 season. Göztepe made sports history in Turkey by having 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 and the only one for two decades. Altay and Göztepe have won the Turkish Cup twice for İzmir and all of İzmir's teams periodically jumped in and out of Süper Lig. Historically, İzmir is also the birthplace of two Greek sports clubs, namely the multi-sport Panionios and association football Apollon Smyrni F.C. which were founded in the city and moved to Athens after 1922.
The city boasts of several sports legends, past and present. Already at the dawn of its history, notable natives such as the son of its first port's founder Pelops had attained fame and kingdom with a chariot race and Onomastus is one of history's first recorded sportspeople, having won the boxing contest in the Olympiad of 688 BC.
Born in İzmir, and nicknamed Taçsız Kral (The Uncrowned King), 1960s football star Metin Oktay is a legend in Turkey. Oktay became the first notable Turkish footballer to play abroad, with Palermo in Italy's Serie A, during the 1961–1962 season. Two other notable football figures from İzmir are Alpay Özalan and Mustafa Denizli, the first having played for Aston Villa F.C. between 2000 and 2003 and the second, after a long playing career as the captain of İzmir's Altay S.K., still pursues a successful career as a coach, being the only manager in Turkish Super League history to win a championship title with each of Istanbul's "Big Three" clubs (Galatasaray S.K., Fenerbahçe S.K. and Beşiktaş J.K.) and having managed the Turkish national football team to the UEFA Euro 2000 Quarter Finals.
|Economic data on İzmir||2008|
|Nr. of unemployed||156,000|
|Public investments||310,793 (million US Dollars)|
|Exports||21,6 (billion US Dollars)|
|Imports||26.1 (billion US Dollars)|
|Nr. of companies||102,153|
|Nr. of companies|
with foreign capital
|Nr. of companies started 2008||4,813|
|Nr. of companies ceased 2008||2,841|
|Tax revenues||11.843 (million US Dollars)|
|Bank deposits total||17.932 (million US Dollars)|
|Bank loans total||13.315 (million US Dollars)|
|Nr. of bank branches||667|
|Nr. of tourists||1,079,000|
Trade through the city's port had a determinant importance for the economy of the Ottoman Empire as of the beginning of the 19th century and the economic foundations of the early decades of Turkey's Republican era were also laid here in İzmir Economic Congress. Presently, İzmir area's economy is divided in value between various types of activity as follows: 30.5% for industry, 22.9% for trade and related services, 13.5% for transportation and communication and 7.8% for agriculture. In 2008, İzmir provided 10.5% of all tax revenues collected by Turkey and its exports corresponded to 6% and its imports 4% of Turkey's foreign trade. The province as a whole is Turkey's third largest exporter after Istanbul and Bursa, and the fifth largest importer. 85–90% of the region's exports and approximately one fifth of all Turkish exports are made through the Port of Alsancak with an annual container loading capacity of close to a million.
The following universities were established in İzmir:
The following universities are located nearby the city of İzmir:
There are a total of nine universities in and near İzmir. The city is also home to well-rooted high-school establishments that are renowned across Turkey, such as Izmir Anatolian Vacational High School of Commerce which was established in 1854 and the American Collegiate Institute which was established in 1878.
Historically, during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the city was an educational center of the Greek world, with a total of 67 male and 4 female schools that time. The most important Greek educational institution was the Evangelical School that operated from 1733 to 1922.
İzmir is served by national and international flights through the Adnan Menderes International 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.
Co-ordinated transport was introduced to İzmir in 1999, the first place in Turkey to apply the lessons of integration. A body known as UKOME gives strategic direction to the Metro, the 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. The Kentkart allows use of multiple forms of transport within a 90-minute window for the price of a single fare. For situations where it is necessary to use the car for travel within the city, the number of car rental companies in the various districts serving about 1000.
All major districts are covered by a dense municipal bus network under the name ESHOT. The acronym stands for "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 Izmir's trolleybus system ceased to operate in 1992. However, 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 Karataş, Gümrük, Basmane, Yeşilyurt and Konak. A privately owned company, İzulaş, operates 400 buses from two garages, running services under contract for ESHOT. These scheduled services are supplemented by the privately owned minibus or dolmuş services.
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 the city, which is located along the deep end of a large gulf. 24 ferries shuttle between 8 quays (clockwise Bostanlı, Karşıyaka, Bayraklı, Alsancak, Pasaport, Konak, Göztepe 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.
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 the Üçyol station in Hatay in the southern portion of the metropolitan area and runs towards northeast to end in Bornova. The line is 14.2 km (8.8 mi) long.
The stations are Üçyol, Konak, Çankaya, Basmane, Hilal, Halkapınar, Stadyum, Sanayi, Bölge, Bornova, Ege University, Evka 3. 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 per year. By the end of September 2005, 160 million passengers had travelled since the opening of the metro in May 2000.
A more ambitious venture named İZBAN has begun involves the construction of a new 80 km (50 mi) line between the Aliağa district in the north, where an oil refinery and its port are and the Menderes district in the south, to reach and serve the Adnan Menderes International Airport. The line comprises 31 stations and the full ride between the two ends takes 86 minutes.
İZBAN, sometimes referred to as Egeray, is a commuter rail system serving İzmir and its metropolitan area. It is the busiest commuter railway in Turkey, serving about 150,000 passengers daily. İZBAN is a portmanteau of the words "İzmir" and "Banliyö".
Established in 2006 and began operations in 2010, İZBAN was formed to revive commuter rail in İzmir. Currently, İZBAN operates a 80 km (50 mi) long system, with 31 stations, consisting of two lines: the Southern Line and the Northern Line.
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