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Pearl of the Aegean: İzmir (Smyrna)

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Having witnessed 8,500 years of human history, İzmir had been founded at the side of a gulf, and currently is the third biggest city and second most important seaport of Turkey. Situated at the west of Anatolian Peninsula, at the side of Aegean Sea, the province has an area of 12,012 km² with an approximate population of 4 million people. As one of the oldest port cities of the world, İzmir has always been recognised as an important meeting point for people with different cultures, languages and religions

”An 8.500 year old past with heroes, poets, philosophers and artists… İzmir is blending the fast changing history of Anatolia with the colourful history of the Agean. It is told that the city was named after an Amazon Queen, Smyrna.

İzmir is also known as the hometown of Homer, the Master of Poets.”

The ancient classical city, Ephesus, one of the best preserved in the eastern Mediterranean is in Selcuk / İzmir.

Selcuk has many historical remains of early Christianity, including a house which many believe to have been visited by the Virgin Mary, and Ayasoluk Hill where St. John wrote his Gospel.
Bergama/İzmir is one of Turkey’s oldest civilized settlements which has been inhabited from pre-historic times through the Ionic, Roman and Byzantine civilizations. Asclepion, an important health center of the ancient world, the acropolis on the top of a 300 m steep hill and the Temple of Serapis make this area a fascinating stop for history-loving tourists.

Thermal springs of İzmir, or as in Homer’s epics, Agamemnon Thermal Springs, where the wounded soldiers of Agememnon healed, have been used to cure various ailments since ancient times. İzmir’s hot water mud baths and mineral springs are said to cure upper respiratory inflammation, nephritis, rheumatism, skin diseases and metabolism problems.

With 629 km coastline along the Aegean, the sun shines in the perfect brightness and the wind blows in the ideal knot while the sand is in its most comfortable warmth in İzmir and its resort towns.
Lined by one spectacular beach after another, summer tourism is a natural high; attracting not only thousands of local tourists f rom all cities in Turkey, but also windsurf lovers from around the world. Contained along the coasts are many “Blue Flag” beaches, an international eco-label for beaches and marinas awarded to 3650 beaches in 46 countries around the world. İzmir holds great pride in having nearly 35 of these flags. Çeşme, now a world renowned small resort town, tenfolds in summer months in terms of population. Situated on a peninsula, the northern and southern winds clash at this spot to make this a destination for windsurf lovers. In Alaçatı, near the tip of the Çeşme Peninsula, the narrow streets reveal picturesque stone houses at every turn and the night life is absolutely on par with world standards. Attracting a great crowd in September with an International Windsurf Competition, Alaçatı, once a farming village, welcomes its visitors with dozens of inns and boutique hotels. Foça, about 70 km northwest of the city center, is another coastal district which attracts thousands every summer with its sun, sea and sand. The districts of Dikili, Karaburun, Menderes (featuring Gümüldür beach) and Seferihisar with their unique and authentic feels just complete this city from the north and the south, offering its tourists sunshine that keep them warm even after they leave.

İzmir, undoubtedly owes much of its economic and social prowess to its location and climate, but even more so to its social mosaic that has allowed many cultures and civilizations to flourish over the centuries. Persians, Greeks, Assyrians, Romans, Byzantines and Ottomans are only a few of the dozens of civilizations that İzmir has hosted throughout its long history. İzmir takes pride in its multi-religious weave. In İzmir, several churches and synagogues are harmoniously intertwined with mosques and ancient houses of worship.

İzmir is also an important cruise destination hosting approximately 400,000 tourists annually.

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