The site of Sardis (Sart)
lies some 60 miles east of Izmir near the town
of Salihli. Sardis was the capital of the Kingdom
of Lydia . According to archaeological evidences,
a modest community already lived at the foot of
Mount Tmolus when around 1200 BC, Mycenaean warriors
settled and ruled over the local population. According
they were the sons of Heracles who founded the
Heraclid dynasty that remained in power
from about 1200 to 680 BC, till the time of Candaules.
This king was killed by his minister Gyges
who founded the Mermnad dynasty. Under
king Ardys (651-625), electrum (a natural
mixture of gold and silver) was discovered in
the Pactolus river (Sart çayi), and exploited.
This is when the world's first coinage was invented.
Although Sardis was devastated by the Cimmerians,
the kingdom reached its apogée and its greatest
geographical extent under the rule (560 - 546
BC) of renown king Croesus (he is referred
to in the saying "as rich as Croesus). His
tremendous wealth came from the treatment of electrum
to obtain pure gold and silver (the Harvard-Cornell
Sardis Expedition has unearthed a gold refinery
from the time of King Croesus). Croesus was so
proud of his possessions that he boastfully showed
his splendors to his visitors. One of them was
the Greek sage Solon, to whom he asked
if any other man could be so happy. Solon's answer
was that "no man could be accounted happy
until the moment of his death, for no man could
know what the gods may have in store for him".
Worried about the growing power of the Persians,
Croesus offered lavish gifts to the Temple of
Apollo at Delphi where the Pythia told him that
if he made war on Cyrus, "a great
empire would be destroyed". Misinterpreting
the oracle, he attacked Cyrus but was forced to
retreat in Sardis where he suffered a siege. Sardis
and its wealth finally fell to Cyrus (546 BC)
and Croesus, who believed himself beyond the reach
of misfortune, was sentenced to death. As he was
about to be burnt at the stake, Croesus uttered
Solon' s words. Cyrus was so impressed that he
spared his life, taking Crésus to Ecbatana where
he made him his advisor. Sardis became the headquarters
of the Persian administration in western Asia
Minor. The Persians built the Royal
Road, a commercial road over 2,500 km/1,600
miles that ran from Sardis to the Persian Gulf.
During the revolts of the
Ionan cities, the Athenians burnt down the
city. Sardis remained under Persian domination
until it surrended to Alexander
the Great in 334 B.C.. After the Seleucids,
Sardis fell to the Romans
and was annexed to the Kingdom
of Pergamum. The city lost its importance
(gold mines had since long been worked out) but
remained flourishing. An important and prosperous
Jewish community developed in Sardis, holding
an eminent position. In the Byzantine
times Sardis became the center of a diocese.
Sardis was among the "Seven
Churches of Revelation".
The ruins of Sardis can be divided into four areas:
The Lydian Necropolis,with the Royal
Burial Mounds, are located at Bintepeler ("the
Thousand Hills") to the north-west of Sahlili.
According to Herodotus, the largest of all the
tumuli, 355 m/ 1,165 ft in diameter and 69m (226
ft) in height, was that of King Alyattes.
Ancient City includes: - the Bath - Gymnasium Complex (middle of
2C AD) has symmetrically arranged rooms and halls.
The palaestra covering
the eastern half of the large complex, was used
for sports activities. The vaulted halls in the
west were used as baths.
The two - storied main building has a colonnaded
marble courtyard. - the Synagogue : in 3C AD, the southern
section of the palaestra (bath - gymnasion complex)
was given to the Jewish community living in the
city and remodeled to accomodate a synagogue. It
consists of a colonnaded entrance courtyard with
three gates opening into a main hall. The floors
were mostly covered with mosaics and the walls were
covered with polychrome marbles featuring geometric
designs. The synagogue, built in the shape of a
basilica, had a capacity of approximately one thousand
persons. It is the largest early synagogue yet excavated.
Rows of shops were adjoining the synagogue.
The Acropolis of the city is located on Bozdag
(Mount Tmolos). Here are the 6C BC city walls and
the ruins of a byzantine fortress.
Temple of Artemis is located in the Pactolus
Valley: long after the Athenians burnt the former
temple dedicated to the cult of Anatolian goddess
Cybele and later to Artemis, at the same place the
of Artemis was built in stages in Hellenistic times.
It was completed then rebuilt in Roman times after
it was seriously damaged during the earthquake in
17C AD (about 300 BC - early 2C AD). The temple
was one of the largest ancient temples with eight
columns on the facades and twenty along each side.
At the south-eastern corner are the remains of a
small Byzantine church made of red bricks.
finds from the Sardis excavations including the
mosaics are on display in the Archaeological
Museum of Manisa.
Temple of Artemis
Temple of Artemis and Byzantine church
The Bath-Gymnasium Complex
The Marble Courtyard
Columns with spiral fluted shaft
Gymnasium seen from the Synagogue
Portico surrounding the Palaestra
.Polychrome marbles covering the walls of the Synagogue
Altar for offerings decorated with eagles and guarded by lions
Click to enlarge
which is located at the far end of the long
and narrow Gulf of Izmir,
is the third largest city and the second largest
harbour in Turkey. Known as The Pearl of
the Aegean", Izmir is a lively and pleasant
modern city rising in tiers on the slopes
of the surrounding mountains. Its avenues
are broad and lined with palm-trees just like
the long waterfront (Kordon
one can go for a ride in horsedrawn phaeton
(carriage). Izmir is also an important center
for tourism, art, culture, trade and industry.
The city is reputed for its mild climate in
winter and in summer the heat is tempered
by the constant and refreshing sea breeze.
According to a legend the city was founded by
the Amazons* who fought their
way to the Aegean shores, and its ancient name,
Smyrna, was derived from an Amazon queen called
Excavations have revealed that the earliest settlement
in Izmir was founded in the 3rd Millennium BC,
at present-day Bayrakli. In antiquity the plain
of Bornova was covered by the sea and the above
mentioned city mound seen there today was a small
peninsula on the edge of the Bay of Izmir. The
first inhabitants were the native peoples of Asia
Minor, called Lelegians. By 1500 B.C the city
was subject to the influence of the Hittite
Empire (two reliefs found in the region testify
this influence). In the 11th century BC, Smyrna
became an Aeolian colony
known as Smurna, written as Smyrna in ancient
Greek. The city started to compete with the neighboring
colonies, and Ionians
from Colophon came and settled in Smyrna which
finally passed into their possession at the beginning
of the 8C BC, and was made the 13th city of the
This period of prosperity came to an end with
the conquest and destruction of the city by the
Alyattes III around 600 BC. It was then again
conquered by the Persians
in 546 BC. Alexander
the Great put an end to their sovereignty
in 333 BC and ordered Lysimachus
to built a new city on the slopes of Mount Pagos
(Kadifekale). According to Pausanians, one day,
Alexander the Great went hunting on Mt. Pagos
and fell asleep under a plane tree, in front of
the temple of the Two Nemesis. The goddesses appeared
to him in his dream and told him to set up a new
city there and have the inhabitants of the old
city move to it. Thereupon, the oracle of Apollo
at Claros was consulted as was the custom and
declared: �Three and four times happy will those
men be, who are going to inhabit Pagos beyond
the sacred Meles�.
The city, which had become subject to the Kingdom
of Pergamum became part of the Roman
Empire in 133 BC when King
Attalos III, upon his death, bequeathed his
kingdom to Rome. During the Roman period, only
a small part of the city was located on the city
mound, the greater part being centred around the
harbour on flat land. Strabo, the famous historian,
records that Smyrna was the finest Ionian city
of his time successfully rivaling Pergamum
and Ephesus: the streets
were straight and paved and it was adorned with
handsome buildings. One of them was the Homereion.
The people of Smyrna highly respected Homer.
They believed that he was born in their city and
erected a monument which they called Homereion.
Always according to Strabon, inside, there was
an altar and a statue of Homer carved out of wood.
Silver and bronze coins minted in Smyrna and bearing
the name and portrait of the poet, have been found
in Izmir, but the place where the monument stood
is still unknown. From this brilliant era nothing
has remained except the agora
, which is well-preserved. The city was rebuilt
by Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius and his wife
Faustina after the great earthquake in 178 AD.
Turreted bust of the Amazon Smyrna with bipennis (double axe)
on shoulder � 2C AD
a plane tree and the two
Nemesis - 250 AD
hand on chin
At the beginning of the Christian Era, Smyrna played
a significant role in the development of Christianity
and became a bishopric. One of the Seven
Churches of Revelation was founded here. From
period, in the 4th century, the silting up
of the harbors of Ephesus, Priene or Miletus was
profitable to Smyrna which continued to be properous.
In the 7th century the city suffered from the
Arab raids. Following the Manzikert Battle in
1071, the Seljuk Turks
spread as far as the Aegean Coast capturing Smyrna
where they established a naval dockyard. The defeats
undergone by the Byzantines led to the direct
intervention of the Westerners in the affairs
of Orient, and at the beginning of the First
Crusade, Smyrna was retaken by the Byzantines.
By the terms of a treaty which was supposed to
favour the recovery of Constantinople
which had come under the domination of the Latins,
the Byzantines granted the Genoeses
extensive concessions including full control of
Smyrna. Taking advantage of the disorders caused
by the Genoeses who claimed that the city was
their property, in 1310, the castle they had built
fell into the hands of Umur Bey, the Emir of Aydin.
Because the Turks had rebuilt the port installations
and shipyards with the idea of leading naval expeditions
against the islands of the Aegean, in 1344 the
place was captured by the Frankish Knights of
Rhodes. The knights kept it until 1402 when they
surrendered to Mongol Tamerlane
who, before he retreated to Iran, gave the city
back to the emir of Aydin. In 1415 Smyrna was
finally taken by Mehmet
I Çelebi and incorporated into the Ottoman
In spite of the two devastating earthquakes in
1688 and 1778, Izmir remained one of the most
florishing cities of the Empire. It gained a new
preponderant role when European commercial influence
developed on the coast with the creation of a
brillant cosmopolitan Levantine society composed
of French, English, Dutch and Italian tradesmen.
The first textile factory was opened in the 18th
century and the first paper factory in the 19th
century. The port facilities and the introduction
of the railroad contributed to early industrialization.
At the beginning of the 20th century Izmir was
a centre of commerce and entertainment rivaling
the two great Ottoman cities of the time: Istanbul
At the end of World War I, on May 15, 1919, Izmir
was occupied by Greece. In 1920 the domination
of the city and its surroundings was granted to
Greece by the Treaty of Sèvres. During the War
of Independence on September 9, 1922, the
city was taken back by the Turkish forces and
the Treaty of Lausanne (July 24, 1923) gave Izmir
back to the new Turkish
Republic. The city suffered from this period
of war and from the biggest fire in its history
which broke out on September 13, 1922, but rose
again from its ashes.
* The Amazons are a legendary
tribe of warrior women who, according to ancient
Greeks, lived in Asia Minor, on the northeasten
coast of the Black Sea
where they created a belligerent state. To have
progeny they had affairs with neighbor men sending
them back their male offspring (or even killing
them). They kept girls though raising them as
future warriors and burned out their right breasts
in order not to be hampered when using bows in
battles. That is where the name "Amazons"
came from as it means, "no breasted".
Led by their queen, they fought alongside, or
against, the greatest epic heroes. They are said
to have fought against the Aechaeans during the
Trojan War but they were defeated, and their queen
Penthesilea was killed by Achilleus outside Troy.
Places of Interest:
Bayrakli: The excavations carried
out at Bayrakli have brought to light the one
- roomed building made of sun- dried brick dated
10th century BC which is the oldest and best preserved
house of its period. The Temple
of Athena dating from the end of the 7th century
BC is the earliest Greek religious building in
�Velvet citadel� (Kadifekale) overlooks
the city from the top of ancient Mount Pagos
where one can enjoy a magnificent view over
the city and the Gulf of Izmir. The remains
of cisterns used in the Roman and Byzantine
periods can be seen within the walls of
the citadel. These cisterns formed the center
of the water network supplying ancient Smyrna.
which is well-preserved, was laid out on a regular
Hippodamian grid plan
like the ancient city of Smyrna. The agora,
that was the economic and political heart of the
city, was located at the foot of the acropolis
(Mount Pagus) just above the ancient harbor which
has been filled in and is now the Bazaar (Kemeralti).
The agora was rebuilt after the great earthquake
in 178 AD by Marcus Aurelius. The agora was surrounded
with stoas (porticoes) on three sides and a large
Roman basilica (a public building used by imperial
officials, city magistrates and businessmen) in
the northern part. The basilica of Smyrna (165
x 28 m/ 541 x 92 ft) was a three storey structure
with a large central hall. Due to the sloping
terrain, the lowest storey of the buildings to
the north and west is partially underground and
has long arched galleries. The presence of numerous
shops built side by side beneath the basilica
indicate that this space was used as a covered
market place. Its basement, consisting of four
parallel aisles, is well preserved. In the first
two spans, covered by arches, excavations have
brought to light graffiti, drawings and inscriptions.
portrait of the Emperor's wife Faustina,
who helped rebuild the city, can be seen
on the keystone of the west monumental gate
in the continuation of the west portico.
The gateway was divided by two arches.
The western stoa has three parallel aisles
Western stoa-lowest level
of the Basilica which was reused several
The basement of the basilica, consisting of four parallel aisles,
is well preserved. The third aisle is a large corridor serving
two monumental entries 80 m apart.
The area in the centre of the agora was transformed
into a cemetery in the Ottoman times,
a situation that lasted up to the beginning
of the excavations in 1932.
The Sirinyer and Yesildere
Aqueducts, two examples of Roman engineering
spanning the Meles River, supplied Izmir's water
throughout the Byzantine and Ottoman eras.
St Polycarp Church was erected
in 1820 by Reverand Father Polycarpe of Smyrna
and linked to the French Mission. The clergyman,
who was also Superior of the Capuchins, dedicated
the church to St. Polycarp, after whom he named
himself. Born in 70 AD, Polycarp was a disciple
of St John.
bishop of Smyrma and the spokesperson for the
churches in Asia Minor,
devoting much of his life to fighting gnosticism
and all heretics. In 155 AD, he was martyred by
the Romans. He was declared patron saint of Smyrma.
St Polycarp church is located on Necatibey bulvari.
Mass is celebrated every Sunday at 11 am.
Visiting hours for groups : 8:30 am-12 am/15 pm-18
pm except Sundays.
Visiting hours for individuals : 15 pm-17 pm except
Hisar Mosque, built by Yakup
Bey in 1592, stands next to Kizlaragasi Han. It
is the oldest, the largest and the most interesting
mosque in Izmir.
Kizlaragasi Hani, a han
built in 1741 and restored in 1993, is a fine
example of 18th century Ottoman
architecture. Today it is very pleasant place
The Archaeological Museum, near
Konak Square, houses a superb collection of antiquities
including the statues of Poseidon and Demeter
which, in ancient times, stood in the Agora. (Closed
The Ethnography Museum, located
next to the Archaeology Museum, contains folkloric
artifacts, which include a fine collection of
Bergama and Gordes carpets,
traditional costumes and camel bridles. (Closed
The Fine Arts Museum, located
in Konak, displays the works of famous Turkish
painters. (Closed on Mondays)
The Ataturk Museum is located on Ataturk
The Seljuk Yasar Art Museum is
a private museum on Cumhuriyet Bulvari with a
collection of 20th century Turkish art. (Closed
The Natural History Museum in Bornova
acts as a natural reserve of the Aegean Region
landscapes' historical preservation. (Closed on
Clock Tower (Saat Kulesi), the
symbol of Izmir, is located at Konak Square
near the narrow streets of the Kemeralti
bazaar. The tower was built in 1901 on sultan
order, on the occasion of the 25 th anniversary
of his accession to the throne. The 25 m/
82 ft high tower is built in an elaborate
late Ottoman style. The clock was offered
by German Emperor Wilhem II.
Kemeralti Bazaar offers an infinite variety of
carpets, leather goods, jewelry, clothing and
souvenirs as well as the dried figs and raisins
for which Izmir is famous. Those looking for modern
and most elegant shops will find them in the residential
area on the Kordon Promenade in Alsancak and also
in Karsiyaka and on Cumhuriyet Avenue.
Havra Sokagi, located at Kemeralti
district, is a particularly interesting street
for its old buildings and synagogues (havra
derives from the hebrew word hebhrah meaning
Asansör (the Elevator), located at Karatas,
was built by Nissim Levy in 1907. It provides
access between the lower and upper streets, the
latter standing at a height of 51m / 167.4 ft.
The upper promenade of the lift boasts a cafe
and a restaurant in which visitors can relax and
get an unparalleled view of the Gulf of Izmir.
Moreno Sokagi, the street named
in the memory of the famous singer Dario
Moreno, is located in the vicinity of Konak
Square and leads to the Asansör. Dario Moreno,
who was born in the Aegean town of Aydin
in 1921 into a poor Jewish family, grew
up in Izmir then lived in this house in
the quarter of Karatas after he had started
making money thanks to music. One of the
commemorative plates on the wall relates
the singer's last will that he wrote in
the lyric "Canim Izmir, "My Dear
Izmir, tatli ve sevgili sehrim!
Bir gün senden sayet uzakta ölürsem,
Beni sana getirsinler.
Fakat mezarima götürürken
Öldü demesinler, uyuyor desinler.
Koynunda tatli Izmir'im.
dear Yzmir, my sweet and
If I die far away from you one day,
May they bring me to you.
But, while taking me to my grave,
May they not say of me, "He died",
May they say, "He is sleeping".
In your bosom, my dear Izmir.
Dario Moreno died on 1 december 1968 at the age
of 47 in Istanbul. He has not been burried
in Izmir but in Israel.
(the Turkish word for passport) is the name of
the dock and pier between Konak and Cumhuriyet
Meydani. The dock buildings were built in the
Turkish revival style. The old fashioned coffee
houses which served narghile
(waterpipes) as well as tea
and Turkish coffee
are beeing supplanted by Pubs and modern cafés.
Karsiyaka, which means "opposite
shore", is a pleasant residential area located
on the north shore of Izmir. Karsiyaka is the
Kültürpark, the main park of
Izmir, offers a variety of activities. It is the
site for the International Izmir Fair and contains
an amusement park, zoo, restaurants and gardens.
Adnan Saygun Park, Insan Haklari Park (Human Rights
Park ) with modern statues, including the huge
Flying Dolphins Monument, seaside Muammer Aksoy
Park, are other parks of the city.
Turkey's largest thermal springs
are located in Balçova.
Izmir Bird Paradise is located
in Çamalti, 15 km/ 9.5 miles north of Karsiyaka.
In this preserved area there are many species
like flamingoes and pelicans.
Izmir has a culinary speciality which is the Izmir
Köfte (meat balls), but dishes made with fresh
herbs have a special place in the Aegean cuisine.
When spring comes local markets are filled with
green vegetables, many of them local wild varieties
gathered from meadows and mountains, such as radika,
turpotu, hardalotu and many more. The leaves are
just blanched and served with a dressing of lemon
juice and olive oil. These specialities are served
in many restaurants and particularly in the colourful
area of Kemeralti or at Kordonboyu where are also
located fish restaurants serving delicious fish
like the local sea bream (çipura).
The International Izmir Festival takes place every
year in July (artists perform at various venues
in the city and surrounding area, including the
theatre at Ephesus),
and the International Izmir Fair is held in September.
Izmir has a domestic and international airport.
Ferries link Izmir to Venice / Italy.
In the area of Izmir and particularly west to
the city in the Çesme Peninsula, there are numerous
holiday resorts with blue flagged beaches which
attract lots of tourists.