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History of İzmir


The first settlement of İzmir was discovered through archaeological excavations. This settlement is thought to have been established in Yeşilova, Bornova approximately 8 to 9 thousand years ago in a period scientifically called as the Neolithic period. First settlers of İzmir who occupied these considerably fertile alluvial lands are thought to have lived in this area for approximately 1500 years; in other words, until the end of the Chalcolithic period.

The reason why the second settlement in the city took place in Bayraklı is not clearly known yet; however, scientists are currently continuing on their studies concerning this matter. Through the excavations, the traces of ancient settlement that dates back to 5000 years ago have been found in Bayraklı, Tepekule; however, to find more accurate information, and more information regarding its connection with other regions, intensive studies are required.

The most well-known historic period of Bayraklı, Tepekule is 7th century BC, its brightest era. In this period, the city was one of the twelve Ionian cities, it had an outstanding Athenian temple and engaged in trade. Although archaeological excavations today occasionally bring light on small signs of settlement from 4th century BC, the city was moved essentially to the lands today known as Kadifekale. It is possible to see the excavated little archaeological artifacts, each of which are aesthetic in their own way, in İzmir Arkeoloji Müzesi (İzmir Museum of Archaeology) and İzmir Arkeoloji ve Sanat Müzesi (İzmir Museum of Archaeology and Art).

Surely, every city has an ancient founding myth: One day, Alexander the Great falls asleep near the springhead, under a tree. Two Nemesis appear in his dream and tell him to establish a city on the land he is standing at, and advise him to have his people migrate there. After waking up from his dream, Alexander the Great consults the oracles of Temple of Apollo located in Kaloros, which used to be the most famous center for prophecy (today known as Ahmetbeyli, can be visited) about the will of the goddesses. The God Apollo responds saying that those Smyrnians who will live beyond the Sacred Meles, (today known as Yeşildere) on top of the Pagos (today known as Kadifekale) will be thrice as happier than before. Thus, the city is known to have been moved to the skirts of Kadifekale from Bayraklı Tepekule in 4th century BC, during the Hellenistic period. This is a nice sounding story without a doubt, but the reality is that because the living conditions worsened in Bayraklı Tepekule, a new place to live had to be looked for.

After being moved to the skirts of Kadifekale, the city had seen constant rise in settlement. Today, the place known as Agora Excavations which you can see on your left while going up the slope of İkiçeşmelik, used to be the city's agora. Important decisions concerning the city took place there, and it hosted a large courthouse. Other remnants of the city are unfortunately buried under modern structures today.

In İzmir, as with all other cities, the Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman periods followed the Hellenistic period that started with Alexander the Great. The Roman and Byzantine periods; however, had not been very bright and memorable.

Under the Ottoman rule, the city regained an acceleration. It wasn't until the 15th century that the city totally came under the Ottoman domination. During this period, the port of the city didn't have much importance. The most important port was the port of Chios. The port gained importance as İzmir got more and more attention because of various reasons. Starting from the 17th century the city went through a serious growth. Along with the developing trade, the mosaic structure of the city also grew. This mosaic consisting of the Levantines coming from West to engage in trade, Greek Orthodoxes, Armenians, Jews and Muslim Turks formed a city of tolerance. Trade unified and enriched these people from different ethnic backgrounds, cultures and religions.

In this period, İzmir was a city where people from every nation, and goods from both west and east could be seen in its streets and markets. It was a bridge of trade between Asia and Europe.

Transportation from the port to the interior of the city was done via caravans. As you can imagine, this kind of transportation was very limited and slow. Levantine merchants initiated railroad works in order to reach the interior of the city faster. The İzmir - Aydın railroad is known to be the first rail line built in Anatolia.

The aim of the railroad was to transport the goods collected in the basins to the port as fast and cheap as possible. The railroad had increased the trade capacity and thus the port that reached Kızlarağası Inn and consisted of an inland sea was no longer sufficient.

Hence, the French and the English who had the prerogative for port construction built the port today known as Pasaport. Thus, at the end of the 19th century the city became an important center of trade.

However, the city's magnificence was damaged by war. Greek invasion, the Independence War following it, and the fire in 1922 laid waste to the city.

The new republic healed the city's wounds, and as Herodotos said "They established their city under the finest sky and the finest climate."

With the foundation of the Republic the trade in the city further improved, in 1923 10 factories and in 1923 129 factories were established.

In 1923, Economy Congress took place for the first time in İzmir. In this congress "the idea of a fair" was first put forward by Atatürk and approved. The foundation of International Fair was set up.

Thus, the commercial and touristic side of İzmir started its rise to prominence.

Between the years 1930-1950 cannery, pasta and vegetable oil factories were established. Towards the end of the year 1960; 220 large companies, 11 of which is state owned and 209 of which belong to the private sector, had been active in various fields.

In 1970s İzmir, a destination which could be perceived as the starting point of Turkish tourism, became the foremost city especially in the recognition of Turkey and its tourism.

Having become a popular filming location on its own, İzmir had started to receive an influx of local and foreign visitors.

With the foundation of İzmir Adnan Menderes Airport in 1980s, direct flights increased. Today, İzmir Adnan Menderes Airport, with its new international airport serves as a link between İzmir and many other cities.

Since 70s there are ongoing works aiming to improve the tourism infrastructure and touristic facilities in İzmir and its districts. Although the value of İzmir's land occasionally pushes the investors to invest in other sectors, thanks to the entrepreneurs' efforts and trust in tourism investments İzmir's tourism keeps improving.

Excavation efforts are being done on many archaeological sites and relics are brought to light.

Today, inspired by its history, İzmir welcomes local and foreign visitors every day of every year with its unmatched archaeological heritages such as Bergama and Ephesus which are in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

With the historical importance it gives to the subject of health, thermal and third age tourism; with its fairs and activities, congress tourism; with its unmatched cultural heritage, culture tourism; and with its history of being a port city, cruise tourism are activities that are taking place in İzmir.