Known in Turkish as “Beautiful Izmir”, the city lies at the head of a long, narrow gulf traversed by ships and yachts. The climate is mild and in the summer the constant, refreshing sea breezes temper the sun’s heat. Behind the palm-lined promenades and avenues, which follow the shoreline, the city, in horizontal terraces, gently ascends the slopes of the surrounding mountains. Izmir is the third largest city in Turkey and its port is second only to Istanbul. A cosmopolitan and lively city all year round, Izmir is especially vibrant during the international Arts Festival (June/July) and the International Fair (August/September).

Folk Dancer in Regional Dress

The original city was established in the third millennium B.C. (at present day Bayrakli), when it shared with Troy the most advanced culture in Western Anatolia. By 1500 B.C. it had fallen under the influence of the Central Anatolian Hittite Empire. In the first millenium B.C. Izmir, then known as Smyrna, ranked as one of the most important cities of the Ionian Federation. During this period, one of the city’s most brilliant, Homer is believed to have resided here. The Lydian conquest of the city, around 600 B.C., brought this era to an end, and Izmir remained little more than a village throughout the Lydian and subsequent sixth-century B.C. Persian rule. In the fourth century B.C. a new city was built on the slopes of Mt. Pagos (Kadifekale) during the reign of Alexander the Great. Izmir’s Roman period, beginning in the first century B.C., was its second great era. Byzantine rule followed in the fourth century and lasted until the Seljuk conquest in the 11th century. In 1415, under Sultan Mehmet Celebi, Izmir became part of the Ottoman Empire.

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