Kordon Route

Kordon: Symbol of the Free Soul of İzmir
This free atmosphere that saves one from the feeling of being watched is felt more intense in some cities. This feature attributed to İzmir is directly related to the historical background and identity of the town. This is because its historical adventure reflects how this background which makes it unique and distinguishes it from other cities, is formed. Urban identity can be defined as union of common values system shared by urbanites and elements that have the ability to express themselves as a body. In this regard, places that people share this common ground are important. As to İzmir, no need to mention Kordon has a special role. This historical area identifying the town is an important urban element that is a destination and a thoroughfare for the urbanites all along the year and at all hours of the day. At this point, the correlation between urban identity and historical sites clearly shows itself. Because Kordon clearly expresses İzmir and its free soul.
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Kordon and Pier of İzmir

The port and pier of İzmir did not have the capacity to meet the needs of growing trade until 1860's. This caused problems with docking as well as loss of custom incomes as it allowed smuggling on a large scale. Along with 1860's, railway lines started operating and so the trade from inner parts of Anatolia fastened and increased. This ended up with the need for a port that is suitable for docking of larger ships. In 1867 the port construction prerogative is given to a company founded by English tradesmen J. Charnaud, A. Baker and G. Guerracino. The company started construction in 1869 but the prerogative was transferred to a French company. The port was completed except for a 75 meters' long part in 1876 and put into service. As the advantages of the port about docking were obvious, the part of 75 meters' length was also completed and whole port was put into service in 1880. Following this, a tram line was constructed into the port, terrains gained from sea and marsh area were sold, and areas were formed to become rich and westernised districts of city habitat. Passengers were carried during the day with the tram line built on First Kordon. At night train wagons transferred goods that arrived at Alsancak Train Station to İzmir Port through First Kordon. After construction of Alsancak Railway Station, English started buying tracts, built boardings, depots, maintenance and repair facilities, many outbuildings and fire-fighters' organisation. They built St. Jean Church and English Hospital as well. In addition, thanks to the railway station, industrialisation, started in late 19th century, intensified in this area. Especially the Darağacı District (Front street of Alsancak Stadium today) which is a passage from Alsancak to Bornova, became a settlement for Greek labourers and an industrial zone at the same time. Steam operated tread mills totally owned by foreigners, cigarettes and school paper factory, crosscut saw plants, Coal Gas Factory (1860), Ice Factories, Prina Factory, Cotton oil and Macaroni Factory were built in this area. Furthermore English were leading in textile industry. Şark Sanayi (East Industry) and İzmir Pamuklu Mensucat (Izmir Cotton Textile) were two of the most famous ones. Additionally leather factories are among important establishments. Also we should mention the water factory named Eaux de Smyrna. In 1886 tobacco factory of Reji Company was established and wooden box production plants started settling in Punta. These boxes were used for exporting two important goods of the region: grapes and figs. On the bulkhead line built by Port Company and on Kordon, foreigners established places to maintain their lifestyle habits. Many clubs and association buildings dedicated to higher-class people were located in this district. The buildings of Club European, Tradesmen Association and Club, Hunting Club, Sporting Club and Concert America Theatre Hall were the outstanding ones. One of the most magnificent buildings was Kramer Palace Hotel and Club Hellenique upstairs the hotal. The population of the city was evolving. This population started buying estates in Kordon, and housing intensified in the area up north from Pasaport district. Architecture of two floor houses with bay windows, which was named Chios Type architecture, named after houses of tradesmen from Chios, became popular in the city.

Famous meyhanes of İzmir

At this point Ottoman Empire's approach to İzmir, and its special understanding of government has a big role. Especially after 17th Century, İzmir became a port city and a scene for special administration practices apart from standard system of Ottoman Empire. Meyhanes (a traditional restaurant or bar in Turkey where alcoholic beverages like wine, rakı, vodka, beer with mezes and traditional food are served), emerging first at the port and vicinity and then spreading over other districts of the city, are good examples for these practices. In the port district where there was only one meyhane before the port was constructed, there were 13 meyhanes in 1649. After 20 years, this number was in hundreds. Another point to be stressed here is how the features and the usage of meyhanes have changed as well as their number. Because the only meyhane mentioned above was not a venue to sit and spend time, contrary to what is believed. Meyhanes were more places like a stock market where wine was being distributed to Christian folks in the city. According to the Empire's administrative approach, to supply as much wine as needed by Christian folks and tradesmen in every city was an obligation. This practice in İzmir started early 1620's, and as the function of meyhanes changed, a continuous debate was remarkable. On the customs, sailors kept arguing against customs officers who asked them to pay taxes for wine they bring with. The most important point of their objection was that this wine was their need. To solve this problem, Ottoman Empire at first banned taxes and put down a limit of need. Later, as might be expected, the regulation was made, which ended up with the change of function of meyhanes. So meyhanes were no more shops that sell wine but places that people can sit and chat drinking wine. It is essential to state right away that the only legal alcoholic drink to be sold in meyhanes was wine. Contrary to popular belief rakı has not been a much produced and consumed alcoholic drink for ages. The roots of some urban features assumed to have formed during the fast growth years and to have taken root with the construction of new port facilities, lie under this transformation period in 17th century. Ottoman Empire followed a strict policy in issues like wine prohibition and meyhane usage. Even in such issues İzmir was subject to a much flexible approach. Series of meyhanes, coffee houses and boza houses settled in the inner harbour bordered by today's Kemeraltı arch, can be regarded as proofs of the city's free and flexible atmosphere. Naturally it was not hard at all, within the flow of everyday life, to root the habit of taking innocent behaviours more tolerantly than alcohol bans.

Atatürk House and Museum

İzmir Atatürk Museum is a building is located on Atatürk Street at Gündoğdu Square facing the sea. This mansion, built by a carpet dealer named Takfor in between 1875-80, was abandoned by its owner on September 9th 1922 and passed into state's possession. Right after Great Victory, while Turkish armies were gliding in a flash towards Aegean sea, Commander-in-chief Gazi Mustafa Kemal Pasha was approaching İzmir with these armies, stopping by devastated cities of Aegean region. Atatürk, who arrived in İzmir one day after Turkish armyr, on September 10th, 1922, was welcomed with vibrant ceremonies and stayed as a guest in Muammer (Uşaklıgil) Mansion in Göztepe until September 29th, 1922. He stayed here during his 2nd visit to İzmir as well, on January 27th 1923. Atatürk stayed in the same mansion during his visits to İzmir on July 27th and January 1st 1924. During his visits after having divorced Latife Hanım, İzmirians hosted him in Naim Palas in Gündoğdu district by the sea. This house was built in 1860-1862 and used as a hotel for a while. Municipality of İzmir bought this house from national treasury, furnished it and bestowed it to Atatürk. He stayed at this house 7 times after October 11th. 1925 and made many important decisions in this house. During his last visit to İzmir on June 22nd, 1934, Atatürk stayed again at this house. Iranian Shah Rıza Pehlevi was accompanying him. They left İzmir heading to Balıkesir on June 24th, 1934 after two days stay. This was his last visit.

Enjoying Kordon

"If you are bored, open a window out from your heart and let it see around", our ancestors used to say. Kordon is a huge window which is so good for boredom. Definitely go out to Kordon when you visit İzmir. Take the blue sky turning into orange and the sea with you and walk under the street-lights turning on one by one. Buy a couple of oysters from a bench on the seaside. Relax! You can't buy bad oysters in İzmir even if you want. You can drink either sitting on the wall along seaside swinging your legs or sitting cross-legged on the grass. Especially in the evening, Kordon becomes a quiet friend and listens to you. Let the breeze clean the dust on you. Breathe the salty smell rising up from Mediterranean Sea. Kordon is a funny and a vivid friend as well. Famous singers perform their unforgettable songs at concerts that are held frequently on the grass. Art exhibitions are also organized in Kordon with a unique landscape. Don't forget to follow these activities while you are in İzmir. Additionally, Kordon is a great sports area with a life expanding atmosphere. You can rent a bike and take a bike tour of Kordon along the bike road or you can run towards sunset on a tartan track of 2 kilometres specially designed as a racetrack. You can enjoy Kordon in hundreds of venues laid together. You can have a nice night with friends in meyhanes fed by sea, and meet your friend for a coffee in cafés you are welcome by smiling waiters. You can have a nice time alone or with friends in Kordon bars at night watching the glowing sea and people having fun, chatting or just wandering around. There are few places on earth that makes you say "I am here alive!" Come to Kordon and feel alive.


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