Shipping connects the world with the journeys between ports. Take a journey through the port cities and get to know them.
Izmir is a city with all the amenities. It has stunning beaches, historic ruins, a bustling bazaar, and rich culture. The residents of Izmir are what truly distinguish the city. Izmir is a veritable gold mine of enthralling encounters and delightful surprises.
History of Izmir
Izmir’s history stretches back over four thousand years, to the time when it was known as Smyrna. The most widely accepted theory regarding the origin of the name of the city of Izmir is that the Erektids, who once resided in the present-day Izmir region, engaged in warfare with the Amazons and prevailed; their leader then married the Amazon woman Smyrna and named his region after her, and the name of Izmir originated from Smyrna.
Smyrna encountered a number of flourishing, annexed and reconstructed stages throughout its history. It was governed by the Lydians, Persians, Greeks, and Romans, each of whom left their distinctive imprint on the city’s atmosphere and its cultural life. Homer, the renowned poet of antiquity, was born in Izmir, the meeting place of Eastern and Western cultures.
In the 14th century, the Ottoman Empire conquered the city, and it became an essential component of the Ottoman Empire.
Izmir as a Port City
Surrounded by fertile lands in a sheltered gulf of the Aegean Sea in the east of the Mediterranean basin, the historical port city of Izmir has been one of the most important meeting points of land and sea trade between East and West since prehistoric times.
The strategic positioning of Izmir relative to the Eastern Mediterranean, the Aegean Sea, and the Anatolian peninsula has resulted in ecological, natural, geological, and climatic aspects that influence its cultural and urban fabric. The significant historical and agricultural basins of Western Anatolia converge in Izmir, opening to other nations and ports. This region’s agricultural products, including grapes, figs, and olives, have given rise to a distinctive culinary, beverage, and trade culture in the city. It has been a significant port where goods from the East and Anatolia were both brought to the Mediterranean via the Silk Road.
Izmir, a city in the Eastern Mediterranean that has been continuously inhabited for 8500 years, is a rare example of the spatial evolution of a port city. Political, socioeconomic, and technological advancements boosted Izmir’s commercial life while also fostering the creation of a cosmopolitan port city where many cultural and religious groups coexisted for centuries. Since ancient times, immigrants from other geographies and Muslim, Armenian, Greek, Jewish, and Levantine populations have interacted culturally, creating a dynamic and constantly evolving metropolitan character that is specific to Izmir.
Izmir remains an important port city. A total of 19 ports are located in TR31 Izmir Region (Izmir and Aliağa). As of 2020, 15.7% of the cargo handled in Turkey was handled in Izmir ports. Also, considering container cargo, 1.7 million TEUs, corresponding to 14.7% of the total 11.6 million TEUs of cargo handled in Turkey’s ports, are handled in Izmir region ports.
Attractions in Izmir
Izmir is blessed with a variety of cultural wonders that provide a window into its illustrious past. Ephesus, a remarkably well-preserved ancient city that was once a thriving hub of trade and culture, is highly advised. Admire the beauty of the Grand Theater’s grand façade and the splendour of the Celsus Library.
For a taste of Roman heritage, visit the Smyrna Agora, an ancient marketplace steeped in history. Wandering through the ruins is a unique experience, imagining the vibrant trading activities that once took place in this bustling center. Also, do not miss the imposing Kadifekale castle, standing proudly on a hilltop and offering panoramic views of the city.
Without visiting Izmir’s bustling bazaars, where the senses are captivated by a symphony of sights, sounds, and fragrances, no excursion is achieved. you can explore the Kemeralti Bazaar, a bustling tangle of narrow lanes lined with stores offering everything from spices to fabrics and traditional handicrafts, and lose yourself in its historical ambience.
A coastal city, Izmir has breathtaking beaches and tranquil seaside spots. A popular summer vacation idea is to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city and sunbathe on the sun-kissed sands of Cesme, a popular resort known for its crystalline turquoise waters.
For a touch of natural grandeur, the alluring Karaburun Peninsula, where steep cliffs and secluded bays await, is another alternative. It is also possible to take a boat trip to witness the mesmerizing beauty of places like Cennet Bay, Sığacık and many more.
To experience the cultural pulse of the city, there is the Izmir Clock Tower, an iconic symbol that stands at the heart of Konak Square.
Culture of Izmir
The Aegean region, where Turkey’s olives grow, is famous for its olive oil dishes and appetizers. Izmir cuisine includes Ottoman food traditions as well as Jewish, Armenian and Greek dishes. The İzmir köfte, sulu köfte, tarhana soup, keşkek, zerde and mücver are some of the frequently encountered meals in this region.
The bustling calendar of trade shows, exhibitions, and congresses in İzmir is something the city takes great pride in. The fair and festival are held in the first few days of September within the boundaries of Kültürpark, a sizable inner-city park in Izmir. İZFAŞ, a subsidiary of Izmir Metropolitan Municipality, organises both events.
Izmir is a very vibrant city in terms of sports. Sports activities in the city date back to the 19th century. The first football match in Turkey was played in Izmir in 1870. The firsts are not limited to this. The very first bicycle and horse races in the country were organized in Izmir. It is also known as the site where golf and tennis were introduced for the first time in Turkey.
As of the 2023-24 season, İzmir does not have any representatives competing in the Super League, but İzmir has deep-rooted football clubs such as Göztepe, Altay, Altınordu, Karşıyaka, Bucaspor and İzmirspor. Over the course of its history, Göztepe has played in the semi-finals in Inter-Cities Fairs Cup (predecessor to the UEFA Cup) 1968-69 season.
Pınar Karşıyaka and Petkim SK play in the Men’s Basketball Super League. Karsiyaka has won the Turkish league twice and was part of the Euroleague, Europe’s biggest stage, for one season.
Having numerous victories in the Turkish Men’s Volleyball League and the Turkish Cup, Arkas Spor is a renowned volleyball team in İzmir.