One Day At İzmir

Get up early and tour İzmir in a day.

Asansör and Dario Moreno Street

The best place to start your day by clasping İzmir and the Bay in your arms is Asansör and Dario Moreno Street… Since this part of Izmir was used as a stone quarry in the past, the coastline (Today’s Mithatpaşa Street) and the upper quarter Halil Rıfat Paşa was divided by a deep slope. Between the two quarters a staircase was built which was called "Karataş Staircase" by Turks and "Devidas’ Staircase" by Jews. There was the house of Devidas Family upstairs and Nesim Levi (Bayraklıoğlu), a merchant, lived in a house downstairs. Rumour has it that, one day Father Devidas fell down the stairs and broke his leg, upon which his good friend living down¬stairs, Nesim Levi had the idea to build a lift like the ones he had seen in some European cities. The tower was built of bricks brought from Marseille. Its construction was completed in 1907 and its revenues were devoted to Karataş Jewish Hospital until 1942 when it was sold. The lift passed in other hands in 1942. After remaining inactive for some time due to lack of operator, it was donated to the Municipality in 1983 and restored in 1985. Before the restoration, one of the two lifts at the tower worked on steam and the other on electricity, now both are electric powered. "- İzmir, my lovely dear town.. If I die somewhere away from you.. They shall bring me back to you.. Bearing my coffin, they shall not say ‘he’s dead’. They shall say ‘he’s sleeping’ in your bosom. My lovely İzmir…" Dario Moreno died of a heart attack in Istanbul Yeşilköy Airport on June 28th, 1967, but his will did not come true. His body was taken to Israel and buried in a ceme¬tery in Tel-Aviv by his mother. He was a barefooted kid when he played his broken guitar on the sidewalks of Tilkilik and Agora, he sang love songs under the magno¬lias in Kulturpark, he shone as a star of wedding, circum¬cision and tea parties in Kadifekale, Alsancak, and he became the most famous Latino singer in France. But he never forgot his beloved hometown. He visited Izmir at every opportunity, embraced its homeless children, and serenaded songs to İzmir.

Clock Tower

The Clock Tower, a beautiful symbol of Izmir, was built in 1901. The 25th anniversary of Abdülhamid II’s (reig¬ned 1876–1909) accession to the throne conduced to building clock towers in Ottoman cities and towns. In 1317 of the hegira (1899-1900) Abdulhamid II issued a decree ordering clock towers built in several Ottoman cities in his name. Upon this order, several clock towers were erected throughout the country most of which would become symbols of their cities over time. It must be highlighted that it was also closely related with the country’s westernization process. İzmir Clock Tower located in Konak Square is an extre¬mely elegant work of art. It is 25 metres high and has four storeys. It stands on a four step, cross-shaped marble platform that has an octagonal plan and covered 81m² of land. Public fountains were placed on top of four small columns at every narrow corner of the octa¬gonal platform. The public fountains, with horseshoe-shaped arches, are baldachin shaped, and the basins with three fountains each, have a sprinkler in the middle. Two of the sprinklers no longer exist today. Decorated domes cover the baldachins. The four facades between the public fountains have horseshoe-shaped arches and iron network opening; the one towards the sea is the door to the opening. A scalloping canopy surrounds the tops of the public fountains and facades with great elegance. The platform of the tower is white marble, while the other sections are built from cut stone. The body rises in the shape of a square prism from the bevels on top of the columned gallery, on the octagonal base. Columns with the narrow capitals and small bases are connected to one another with three-sliced arches. The green and pink coloured capitals and corners of the columns, used on the gallery and fountains, are adorned with botanic decorations. All facades of the body have small alcove windows, with horseshoe-shaped arches. The ones to the east and west have small Ottoman coats of arm, and the ones to the north and west have the signature of Sultan Abdülhamit II embossed on them. After the Republic was declared, the Sultan’s signature and coat of arms were replaced with the star and crescent. Its body is decorated with diamond-shaped reliefs that contained pentagrams. The upper section of the body was exten¬ded by three lines of muqarnas, and four clocks, with a diameter of 75 centimetres, presented by German Emperor Wilhelm II. The main mechanic body of this clock is placed on spe¬cial iron gussets and cast iron legs. The date 1901 can be seen on some parts of the 22-gear clock. The fourth floor that sits on twelve columns is narrow bodied and covered with a crescent decorated metal dome, and is where the bell, which no longer works, is located.

Yalı Mosque

Yalı Mosque located in front of the Governor’s Mansion at Konak Square in the heart of the city, is considered one of the landmarks of the city for its distinctive octa¬gonal shape and elaborate tilework. It was built by Mehmet Paşa's daughter Ayşe Hanım in 1754 and reconstructed by Rahmi Bey in 1920. An epigraph on this reconstruction is placed over the gate. The mosque was restored once again in 1964.Built in classical Ottoman style, it is a single domed small octagonal stone and brick building surrounded by horseshoe-sha¬ped windows and ornately painted blue porcelain tiles. Interior walls are also ornamented with tiles. Its round shaped minaret with a single balcony stands on a face stone platform.


And now "you are at the World’s oldest marketplace"… Kemeraltı is a spot where people are shopping and tra¬ding almost for 2500 years. The fortress and inner har¬bour determines the characteristics of Kemeraltı even today. Its arched shape, for instance, can be regarded as traces of the inner harbour settlement during Roman Era. New settlements also steered the development of Izmir harbour and vicinity as a moving commercial cent¬re of the time. The harbour protected by the fortress held shops of European merchants on its right side and caravanserais at inner parts. Commercial goods that were brought to Izmir by camel trains through the Silk Road were unloaded at these caravanserais and from there loaded to ships at the harbour by Genoese merc¬hants. Izmir’s famous Kemeraltı that embodies various historical buildings is located right at this place. This area constituted the marketplace and economic centre of İzmir that experienced a boom and became one of the largest commercial centres of the Empire by 17th century. Several commercial buildings, including the remarkable Kızlarağası Carvanserai came to existen¬ce consequently to the heavy traffic of commercial goods brought by both camel trains and ships. Kemeraltı, the heart of 18th century İzmir’s economy, consisted of many caravanserais and covered bazaars. With its shops which served to rather low-income local families with blacksmiths, coal dealers, hardware shops, spice sellers, straw sellers, Kemeraltı also stimulated public life in the city. Kemeraltı today extends over an area of 270 hectares nestling 14482 workplaces and more than 10 thousand craftsmen and tradesmen in more than 230 different sectors and branches offering more than 800 thousand different kinds of goods. 75 thousand people are emplo¬yed in Kemeraltı and it is visited by 150 thousand to 750 thousand people daily. Being one of the most important connections between Eastern and Western markets along with Istanbul, Kemeraltı embodies the best part of İzmir’s historical and cultural heritage.

Kızlarağası Han (Caravanserai)

With the Anatolian section of the Silk Road reopening to access after the conquest of Chios Island by Ottoman Empire and "Kasr-ı Şirin Treaty," was put into effect again as the Ottoman-Iran wars stopped, the port in İzmir gained importance. There was a need for a new caravanserai to store and market the goods carried by caravans coming from the East to İzmir as well as to accommodate merchants with their caravans. To meet this need, Kızlarağası Hacı Beşir Ağa built Kızlarağası Caravanserai which served this purpose for long years. In 1993 it was reconstructed and once again came into use, this time as a touristic marketplace. The caravanserai, which is one of the rare Ottoman structures in the city, is a long-distance caravanserai, which is the reason behind it being constructed as a two-storey building. The lower floor was used as the meeting place for camels, loads, buying-selling merc¬hants, and brokers, whereas the upper floor was used for accommodation.

Lunch at a Caravanserai Restaurant

Beginning from 18th century, as usual marketplaces fell short of meeting the needs, many caravanserais were built as places for merchants and brokers to meet, do business, buy and sell goods. As you entered a caravan¬serai, you would see a large courtyard with camels loa¬ding and unloading, people eating at the restaurant. Animals were lodged downstairs and their owners ups-tairs. Today, Kemeraltı marketplace mainly consists of shops of little craftsmen and artisans such as carpen¬ters, blacksmiths, locksmiths, spice sellers, cheesemon¬gers, leather dealers, tailors etc… It is hard to estimate how long these shops can survive and to what extent the place will change. There is a place of catering and refreshments in each of the caravanserais in Kemeraltı. Of them, the best example is "Kısmet" Restaurant of Urlalı Hasan Usta serving since 1967. Other notable caravanserai restau¬rants include Bizim Lokanta in Kantarcılariçi, Mahmut in Çıfıt bazaar, Abbas in Cevahir Han, not to mention Şaban Usta in Kalearkası. Have a lunch break in one of these restaurants. You won’t regret.

After Lunch, Hisar Mosque

After lunch, you should have your coffee with a little sugar in one of the coffee houses around Hisar Mosque. Hisar Mosque, which is Izmir’s biggest mosque, hides the city’s entire story in its name and on its walls. The gold foiled inscription reading "Ve Men dehalehu kane amina" over the gate of Hisar Mosque still shines: "He who enters shall be safe." The public call the mosque Hisar but in written docu¬ments it is referred to as Molla Yakup Mosque. It is the oldest mosque among the others situated on the shore of the closed port. This history must have something to do with the wars between the knights at St. Peter Fortress and the Aydınoğulları Princedom for the conqu¬est of Izmir. French archeologist Charles Texier and other researchers feel that Aydınoğlu Umur Bey attac¬ked the Latin Knights in 1345 because of Hisar Mosque. Because of this altercation, Münir Aktepe believes that Hisar Mosque existed in the 14th century but its archi¬tect and the exact date of construction are still unk¬nown. Aktepe firmly believes that the mosque across the fortress was known as Yakup Bey. The mosque is plastered; a typical architectural applica¬tion in Izmir. The interior decoration of the mosque which is made with baroque style plant motifs was done during the last renovation. We can say that the jazzed up decoration of the women’s quarters was the continuance of this decoration process. The plaster decorations in question were used in many mosques, churches and houses not only in the centre of Izmir but in the suburbs as well.


Etymologically, agora means Public Square and shop¬ping district. Agora, which has commercial, judicial and political functions, was a place where the artistic activi¬ties got off the ground, the background of philosophy is laid out and where the stoas, monuments, altars and statues existed. Agora located in Namazgah quarter of İzmir dates from Roman Period and it was built accor¬ding to Hippodamos city plan, on three floors, close to the centre. İzmir agora is the one which is the biggest and best protected of the Ion agoras. It was figured out that the Goddess Vesta emboss¬ments found here were the continuation of emboss¬ments of Zeus altar found during earlier excavations. Besides, God Hermes, Dionysus, Eros, Herakles statu¬es; many man-woman-animal statues, heads, emboss¬ments, figurines and monuments made of marble, stone, bone, glass, metal and cooked soil were found. The inscriptions found here give us information about the people who helped the people of Izmir after the earthquake in 178 AD. (For more information see:Izmir in 6 Hours)


A Hellenistic and Roman period acropol, Kadifekale was built on top of Pagos Mountain by Alexander the Great of Macedonia who gave an end to Persian rule in Anatolia. The myth has it that, Alexander the Great was hunting at the woods of Pagos hill when he fell asleep under a tree at the Nemesis holly area. In his dream he saw two Nemesis telling him to found a new city at this loca¬tion. After waking up, Alexander refers his dream to Apollonian oracle priest who interpreted it in a single sentence: "Three and four times happy shall those men be hereafter, who shall dwell on Pagus beyond the sac¬red Meles." But besides the legends, it's more reasonable today to believe that the real reason of the foundation of the city at this spot was probably because of the military and commercial needs of the era developing on the land and sea. Finally, Lysimachos practiced the establisment of Izmir when he killed his opponent, General Antiganos in 302 B.C. He started to build the city on Pagos Hill and shoulders with a view of Inland Port. Therefore, having been deterritorialized by the invasion of Lydians 400 years ago and lived in the area of Meles Brook in small villages, Smyrnians, the fellow townsmen of Homer, came and settled down in Izmir. Today, only 5 towers on its west side and the southern walls are standing which suggests that Kadifekale was 6 kilometres long and its towers were 20-25 meters tall. The other parts of the castle on north and east sides are completely ruined. There are remains of a narthex and a cistern as well as vaulted structures under ground level. French traveller Robert De Dreux who visited Izmir bet-ween December 1667 and May 1668 writes, "Here (in Pagos) I saw a beautiful cistern that stands on vaults just like our churches." These structures that are thought to have been built in Roman period and continued serving after renewals during Byzantine period constituted the heart of the water supply network in ancient Izmir, its heart blood, in other words. Apparently, water was brought to these cisterns thro¬ugh the aqueducts that can be seen in Şirinyer and from here distributed to the city via earth-ware pipes and canal systems remains of which have been found during excavations in Agora. Today we know that part of the walls of Kadifekale was torn down by Çelebi Mehmet. A couple of rectangular large stones remaining from the western walls can be seen today at the beginning of the road from Basmane Railway Station to Tilkilik and Altınpark. During archaeological excavations in Kadifekale, a woman head estimated to date from 2nd century BC and the remains of an architectural structure that is tho¬ught to be one of the first mosques of Turco-Islamic period in Izmir. "The inscription on the gate of the mos¬que was read by Evliya Çelebi who informs us that according to the inscription the mosque was built in 1308-1309. Indeed, our findings show the same," wri¬tes Ass. Prof. Akın Ersoy. During the archaeological works, the remains of an Ottoman era ceramic work¬shop were also revealed. You can walk down from Kadifekale to Agora (For more information see the section İzmir in 3 Hours) and from there reach Agios Vouklos Church which is one of the oldest churches of Izmir and used today as a Cultural Center and Museum.

Agios Vouklos Church

Agios Voukolos Church that was built in 1886 in Kapılar Quarter of Izmir demonstrates how a usual Greek Orthodox Church is. It is the only Greek Orthodox Church which survived the 1922 fire in downtown Izmir. The church building functioned, after 1927, as Izmir Archaeological Museum until 1951 when the museum moved to its new location built in Kültürpark. Also locally known as ‘the church with eyes’, the building was used as a warehouse and then served as an opera hall. After a period of negligence the ruined building went through restoration works with modern technology and advanced implementation techniques during which several frescoes depicting Jesus, St. John, and the angels Michael and Gabriel were revealed on its walls. The outbuilding of the church was reorganized by Izmir Metropolitan Municipality and Izmir Journalists’ Association as ‘Izmir Press Museum’ which features various exhibits such as Metin Göktepe’s sweater, Uğur Mumcu’s first computer and Abdi İpekçi’s typewriter that are of great significance in Turkish press history.


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