Izmir is a large metropolitan city located in western Turkey. Today Izmir is made up of eleven metropolitan districts and are each famous for their distinctive features. The city is one of the oldest settlements of the Mediterranean basin. It has 3,500 years of recorded history and has many well preserved historical sites of interest. Izmir hosts a variety of festivals including the annual world famous International Izmir Festival which enjoys appearances by many world class performers. The Izmir European Jazz Festival and the International Izmir Short Film Festival are amongst the numerous festivals organized every year in Izmir.
Izmir Clock Tower and Konak Square
Izmir Clock Tower and Konak Square
Izmir Clock Tower is located in Konak Square, the main square of the city. The historic clock tower is an important symbol for Izmir. The tower was built in 1901 to commemorate the 25th anniversary of Abdülhamid II's accession to the throne. The clock itself was a gift of German Emperor Wilhelm II. It featues four fountains and columns inspired by Ottoman architecture and North African themes. There are also Konak Yali Mosque and Kemeraltı Bazaar located around the square.
Asansör Building in Karataş, Konak
Asansör is a historical building in Izmir's Karataş quarter. It was built in 1907 in order to ease passage from the narrow coastline of Karataş to the hillside. The elevator within the building serving to carry people and goods through the steep cliff between the two parts of the quarter. Since it was restored recently it has become one of the landmarks of Izmir. There is a restaurant located on the top of the elevator with a bird-eye view of Izmir.
View of the ancient agora of Smyrna, Izmir
Photo: Georges Jansoone
Agora Open Air Museum of Izmir
The remains of the ancient agora of Smyrna constitute today the space of Izmir Agora Museum in Izmir's Namazgah quarter, although its area is commonly referred to as "Agora" by the city's inhabitants. The Agora was originally an open place of assembly in ancient Greek city-states. Izmir Agora Open Air Museum consists of five parts, including the agora area, the base of the northern basilica gate, the stoa and the ancient shopping centre.
Kadifekale, wall of the castle
Photo: Georges Jansoone
Kadifekale is the name of the hill located within the urban zone of Izmir as well as being the name of the ancient castle on top of the same hill. In 2007, the metropolitan municipality of Izmir started renovation and restoration works in Kadifekale. During the 19th century, Kadifekale was part of the chain across several slopes which constituted Izmir's Turkish core, while the urban center below was the cosmopolitan part. Next to the castle are the ruins of the cisterns built during the Roman period and renovated during the Byzantine and Ottoman periods. They formed the centre of the drinking water network of Smyrna. The remains of this network are still preserved in the agora of Smyrna in downtown Izmir.
Having a coastline on Aegean sea, Izmir owns lots of beaches which are not too far from the city center. Çeşme is a small coastal town located to the west of Izmir, opposite the Greek island of Chios. It is very popular by tourists for its windsurfing and kiteboarding. The town is well preserved with neo-classical architecture and fountains scattered across the city which some think might be a reference to Çeşme name meaning 'fountain'. The town itself is dominated by Çeşme Castle and is well worth the visit.
The Izmir Birds Paradise in Çiğli
The Izmir Birds Paradise in Çiğli is a large bird sanctuary near Karşıyaka. It contains 205 species of birds. There are 63 species of domestic birds, 54 species of summer migratory birds, 43 species of winter migratory birds, and 30 species of transit birds. 56 species of birds have been breeding in the Park. Izmir Bird's Paradise which covers 80 square kilometres was registered as "The protected area for water birds and for their breeding" by the Turkish Ministry of Forestry in 1982. A large open air zoo was established in the same district of Çiğli in 2008 under the name Sasalı Park of Natural Life.
Festivals & Events
People, neighbours, relatives and friends pay visits and go to see each other. Young people kiss their parents’ hands and receive best wishes and blessings from them. It is a tradition to give money or little gifts to those childreen who kiss one’s hands. Candies are served to visitors during Ramadan. That is why Ramadan is also called the “Sugar Festival”.
Feast of the Sacrifice
This festival takes place in Islam as a memory of the story in which a ram fell from the sky just at the moment when the Prophet Abraham was about to sacrifice his son to God.
Hıdrellez, is one of the seasonal festivals of all Turkish world. Hıdrellez Day, which is known as Ruz-ı Hızır (day of Hızır), is celebrated as the day on which Prophets Hızır and Ilyas met with each other on earth. The words Hızır and İlyas have since fused together pronounced as Hıdrellez. Hıdrellez Day falls on May 6 in the Gregorian calendar and April 23 in the Julian calendar, also known as the “Rumi” calendar.
The word Nevruz is of Persian origin and is a combination of the words “nev” (new) and “ruz” (day), meaning new day. According to the old Persian calendar, it is the first day of the year and regarded as the start of spring, when the sun enters the house of Aries.
Victory Festival, (August 30)
On this day in 1922, the fifth day of the big attack against the invading Greek Armies, the Dumlupinar Battle under the command of Mustafa Kemal was won and determined the result of the Independence War. This big attack ended in Izmir with the defeat of the Greeks on September 9.
The Republic Festival, October 29
This is the anniversary of the declaration of the Turkish Republic by the Turkish Grand National Assembly in 1923.
National Sovereignty and Children's Day,
On this date in 1920, during the War of Independence, the Turkish Grand National Assembly was established in Ankara by Mustafa Kemal and laid down the foundations of a new independent state from the ashes of the Ottoman Empire. The founder of the Turkish Republic, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, dedicated April 23 to the children of the country to emphasize that they are the future of the new nation. This is the world's first and only holiday for children.
Commemoration of Atatürk and Youth and Sports Day,
On this date in 1919, Mustafa Kemal arrived in Anatolia at the Black Sea Port of Samsun which marks the beginning of the War of Independence. The week including this holiday has been celebrated as "Youth Week" in Turkey since 1983.
This three day festival comes after an entire month of "absolute" fasting during Ramadan in which Qur'an was revealed.
This four day festival falls on the tenth day of the last month of the Muslim year and marks the completion of the course of Hajj (pilgrimage to Mecca). Sacrificial animals are slaughtered and their meat distributed among relatives, neighbors and the poor on this occasion. The slaughtering of animals is a symbolic expression whereby a Muslim express his readniess to lay down his own life and everything he owes for the sake of God.