A Journey to the Top Destinations of İzmir

İzmir is the ultimate metropolitan city of Turkey’s far west and third most populous city of Turkey. The well-developped city acts as a model for a modern lifestyle and acts as a commercial powerhouse as well. Aside from embracing modernity, the city is strongly tied to its’ traditions too. So, let us take you a journey through the top attractions of İzmir where modern lifestyle and tradition co-exist simultaneously!

 

Kemeraltı Bazaar

 

The historic bazaar is one of the oldest and most important marketplaces of İzmir. Although the old, mystique and domed shops are reduced in number it is still lively every day of the week with cafes, cinemas, modern business centers and streets where you can shop for almost anything. In this old bazaar consisting of indoor and outdoor shops, it is quite possible to find almost anything from woodwork, tiles, rugs, carpets, leather and such products of Turkish handicrafts. The presence of such a crowded and historic place within the city also contributed highly to the value of real estate in İzmir. The bazaar expands from the center of the city called Konak to the city square and it is literally the border of the avenues called Esrefpasa and Fevzipasa. 

Although very limited, the region started its’ first trade operations in the 13th Century thanks to being established close to a naturally sheltered dock. However, the region and the bazaar saw the most substantial expansion in the 17th Century turning Kemeralti into an important trade center. Kemeralti was the reaching point of goods and products flowing from inner Anatolia and back again after being traded here and some are stored inns later to be exported. Because trade regions are the contact points with the rest of the world, it is important to use it as a showcase. Thus, this was exactly what the Ottoman Empire did. A watchtower, a courthouse, a city hall, a military barracks were among the structures which signaled the glory of the empire to the visitors. 

 

Kordon

 

Kordon is one of the iconic spots of Izmir which introduces the people to the Aegean Sea. It is among the top of the most well know and most frequently visited places in the city. The famous spot also functions as a meeting point for most of the citizens who live in İzmir. The venue is easily recognizable whether you are living in İzmir or not. So, it is true to say that the spot came a national household name and the fame of this venue expands the borders of the city. The spot is in Alsancak and there is a combination of reasons that drives people into this area and the most important among them is the area combines green & blue in a spectacular manner! A wide line of green parks is complemented with the deep blue sea and this attracts people to the area like a magnet. The beauty of the area is complemented with the existence of cafes and restaurants suitable to take a glimpse into the domestic cuisine. 

Of course, Kordon does not only acts as a nice place to meet. The venue holds a symbolic value for the citizens of Izmir as well as the most valuable assets of İzmir real estate. The area is and always has been a contact point of different cultures and it was an important historic venue especially in the 20th century when it was housing trade companies, banks and foreign embassies. Today, the area also functions as a main artery and introduces people into other parts of the city. Once people set their steps on Kordon, it is highly likely that they will continue visiting other places of this city and we most sincerely hope you do!

 

House of Virgin Mary

 

According to Christian Orthodoxy, Virgin Mary dies in Jerusalem at 63 and she was buried in Gethsemani. However, there is also a counter belief and opinion which is rooted way back to the Ephesos Council held in year 431. This counter opinion suggests the Virgin Mary was in Ephesus with Saint Jean and she lived here in a house until she passed away at 44 years old. Although many sources written in the 5th Century specifies that the Virgin Mary lived in Ephesus, the location of the house and the grave of the Virgin Mary was essentially left out in the dark. The house of Virgin Mary could have been forgotten and lost to ruins never to be found again. However, it was discovered thanks to one important figure called Catherine Emmerich (1774-1823) and allegedly the visions she saw that lead to the discovery of the House of Virgin Mary. It is claimed the German priestess who is also a handicapped person, saw visions which was later documented in a biography called The Life of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Emmerich was confined to the bed for more than twelve years and never saw Ephesus. However, it is claimed she was able to successfully describe the area in great detail and it was her visions that led to the discovery of the House of Virgin Mary.

In 1891 the High Priest of Lazarists Eugene Poulin and Priest Jung conducted an expedition survey on the hills around the antique city of Ephesus. As a result of these expeditions, they have discovered the ruins of a house that exactly fits the descriptions. The ruins of the house was found 420 meters above sea level on the Bülbül Dağı (Nightingale Mountain). The ruins shared such resemblance with the depictions that it took the priests by surprise. Although described as a “house”, the structure is in fact a chapel built as a cross. The walls of the chapel fits to the 6th-7th Century architectural styles. However, it is not easy to determine when it was built as there are Roman structures and mosaics around the chapel which can be dated back to 1st Century and no “graves” were found in the vicinity. 

Today, apart from being open to daily visits, the House of Virgin Mary hosts an annual ritual that is significant to the Greek Orthodox. The ritual is held annually on the 15th of August on the day Virgin Mary is believed to have died. Also, another ritual is being held on the first Sunday of October since 1985 to commemorate the anniversary of the First Council of Ephesus which was held in 431.  

 

Karaburun

 

Karaburun is an area located in the West side of the Gulf of İzmir and the area is arguably the most untouched region of the peninsula that bears the same name. Karaburun essentially is a small district built on the rocks which has endless shores on its’ West. The region is known for a figure who lived here in between the 14th-15th Century: Börklüce Mustafa, a follower of an influential mystic named Sheikh Bedrettin. The villages in the region contain no artifacts of these but has the clearest sea and cleanest shores with the finest examples of traditional İzmir real estate. If you are keen on diving, Karaburun should be your to place to do so in Izmir. Although not as popular as Alaçatı, Karaburun is also very suitable for windsurfing and has constantly windy weather. The region houses a 106 kilometer long curvy road that leads to Izmir and it hosts a spectacular showcase of bays. Although short, this feat alone makes the travel memorable. Karaburun invites anyone who is eager to travel or camp in quiet, not well-known places nested in pure nature. 

 

Historic Town Center of Çeşme

 

The old settlements of the historic town center is substantially protected and can still be visited in its’ entirety even today. If you pass through the narrow streets and small houses in order to reach the seaside, you can see the Öküz Mehmet Paşa Caravansary. The old structure dates back to 1528 and serves as a hotel today which offers a sanctuary in the hot days of summer with its’ cool inner court. The Çeşme Castle which was built in 1508 rests right behind the caravansary. The castle saw numerous repairs but still stands tall and there is a monument in front of it in memory of the ones who lost their lives in the sea battles, the Battle of Chesma of 1770. 

The Greek island Chios is right across Çeşme, so close that it is visible with the naked eye. The Port of Çeşme houses numerous boats and ferries which sails to and from the islands as well as other countries within the Mediterranean: Greece, Italy, Crete etc. Çeşme acts as an entrance for the tourists getting of these boats and cruise ships. The small houses now act as private hotels and offers the chance to wander through narrow streets with a slow burning pleasure and taste that surely will last. 

 

Ancient City of Ephesus

 

The royal city of Ephesus (Efes) was established more than 6000 years ago. The city was an active settlement for centuries from the Hellenistic era to through the reigns of the Roman, Byzantium and Ottoman Empire. The city represents a pinnacle of flawless city planning and still today shines a light to the city planning of the most desired districts of the city where the most valuable real estate in İzmir stands. The coastal city of Efes has inevitably become an important center of trade, culture and also religion. For centuries the city acted as a trade center, an important port city, a prosperous settlement for generations and a place of pilgrimage for Christianity. 

The city which was rumored to be established by the female warriors of Amazons allegedly took its’ name from Apasas, a city’s of the Arzawa Civilization which reigned in Anatolia from 15th to 12th Century B.C.. Although lacks in evidence regarding this era, the region is thought to be home to indigenous populations. The region’s rise and expansion begins with the Prince of Athens Androklos. The establishment of the city is described on the tablets that stand in the entrance of the Temple of Hadrianus: 

Androklos, the brave son of the King of Athens wants to discover the other side of the Aegean Sea. He consults with the oracles in the Temple of Apollon in Delfi. The oracles prophesize that he will establish a city where a pig and a fish guide him to. Thinking of this prophecy, Andronikos sets sail into the Aegean Sea. When they reach a small gulf on the river Kaystros (Tr. Küçük Menderes) they decide to go ashore. They start a fire and start cooking the fish they brought. After a short while, a wild boar emerges from the bushes and it takes the fish and runs away. Finally, the prophecy was fulfilled to establish the city of Ephesus.

 

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