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 to Herodotus, 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.

The 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.

The 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 Ionian style Temple 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.

Important 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

Ionic capital

Corinthian capital

Gymnasium seen from the Synagogue

Portico surrounding the Palaestra

The Synagogue
.Polychrome marbles covering the walls of the Synagogue
Altar for offerings decorated with eagles and guarded by lions


Click to enlarge
Izmir, 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 Promenade) where 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 "Smurna".
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 Ionian confederacy. This period of prosperity came to an end with the conquest and destruction of the city by the Lydian King 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

Alexander asleep under
a plane tree and the two
Nemesis - 250 AD

Homer seated,
hand on chin
125 BC..

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 the Byzantine 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 Empire.
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 and Salonica.
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 Asia Minor.

The �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.

The Agora, 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.

The 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.

Western portico

The western stoa has three parallel aisles

Western stoa-lowest level

Remains of the Basilica which was reused several times

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. He
became 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 Sundays.

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 for shopping.

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 on Mondays)

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 on Mondays).

The Fine Arts Museum, located in Konak, displays the works of famous Turkish painters. (Closed on Mondays)

The Ataturk Museum
is located on Ataturk Street.

The Seljuk Yasar Art Museum is a private museum on Cumhuriyet Bulvari with a collection of 20th century Turkish art. (Closed on Sundays)

The Natural History Museum
in Bornova acts as a natural reserve of the Aegean Region landscapes' historical preservation. (Closed on Sundays)

The 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 Abdülhamit II's 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 Turkish handicrafts, 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 synagogue).

(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.

Dario 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":
Canim 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.

My dear Yzmir, my sweet and
beloved city!
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.
Pasaport (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 ancient Cordelia.

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.