If you ask any Turkish person what is the queen of cities called in Turkey, you will receive the answer or Izmir. Izmir is also known as Smyrna in the old texts. Another nickname of the city is ”Pearl of the Aegean”. Izmir is located in western Turkey. The city’s center is surrounded by the bay of Izmir.
Izmir City Today
Today Izmir stands as the third most populated city in Turkey. Also, it is the sixth wealthiest city in Turkey. Roots and history of Izmir go well beyond the Turkish and Greek eras. The first human settlements in Izmir started around the third millennium BC. We believe there were indigenous people of the region called Leleges living here. Leleges are also mentioned in Iliad as the allies of the Trojan people. Local people were pushed and assimilated by the Greek invader who started to come in seventh century BC thus the area became known as from Greek origin. The name of the city first appeared today. It is the old tradition to name cities after women and Smyrna was no exception. Smyrna was the name of an amazon warrior who lived in the neighborhood of Ephesus.
”No one can hurry me down to Hades before my time, but if a man’s hour comes, be he brave or be he coward, there is no escape for him when he has once been born.”
– Homer of Smyrna – Izmir
History of Izmir
All the great nations and powers in the ancient times showed interest in Izmir city since it was perfectly located in western Turkey and held great business potential. Izmir is a hub in between Asian and European hubs. Izmir passed in between Greek and Roman rulers till medieval times. First, we had Alexander the Great followed by the Pergamon kingdom. Pergamon Empire went under Roman authority in the year 190 BC. Izmir as a part of the Pergamon Empire became a part of the Roman Empire. Famous Roman author Cicero visited Smyrna in 90 BC and told us about Smyrna in detail. Smyrna was one of the official cities visited by Hadrian. Around the same time the Christianization process of Smyrna started.
Early Christians in Smyrna were trained by John the Evangelist who was living in neighboring Ephesus. One of the first martyrs of the Christian world, Saint Polycarp of Smyrna was executed in 155. It was the year 395 when the Roman Empire was split into two parts and Smyrna became an Eastern Roman Empire or better to be called a Byzantine Empire city. Smyrna spent the next millennia as a Byzantine city. Turkish people arrived in Smyrna in the year 1308 and made the final changes in the city. Name Smyrna is very hard to pronounce for a Turkish person so they said it in a way easier for them which is the modern name of the city, Izmir.
”Eighty and six years have I served Him, and He never did me any injury: how then can I blaspheme my King and my Savior?”
– Saint Polycarp of Smyrna
Guided Izmir Tour
Izmir is a city which worths spending at least a day when it comes to visiting Turkey. Do not skip the well preserved Agora of Izmir, Saint Polycarp Church located in the city center and seafront to spent some time in tasty fish restaurants. You can contact me to learn more about Izmir and also you can book tours to Izmir city. Hiring a professional licensed tour guide will make your trip far more pleasant in Izmir. See you soon in Izmir, Hasan Gülday