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Izmir

 

Country: Republic of Turkey

Area: Izmir

Coordinates: 38°26′N 27°09′E

Mayor: Aziz Kocaoglu

Population: 4 million people

Time zone: EET (UTC +2), summer EEST (UTC +3)

Area code: +90 232

Postal code: 35

Licence plate: 35

Website: http://www.izmir.bel.tr/; http://www.izmir.gov.tr/

 

Izmir is a large metropolis in the western extremity of Anatolia and the third most populous city in Turkey. Izmir’s metropolitan area extends along the outlying waters of the Gulf of İzmir and inland to the north across Gediz River's delta, to the east along an alluvial plain created by several small streams and to a slightly more rugged terrain in the south. The ancient city was known as Smyrna, and the city was generally referred to as Smyrna in English, until the Turkish Postal Service Law of 28 March 1930 made "İzmir" the internationally recognized name.

History

The city is one of the oldest settlements of the Mediterranean basin. The 2004 discovery of Yesilova Hoyuk and the neighbouring Yassıtepe, situated in the small delta of Meles River, now the plain of Bornova, reset the starting date of the city's past further back than was previously thought. The findings of the two seasons of excavations carried out in the Yesilova Hoyuk by a team of archaeologists from İzmir’s Ege University indicate three levels, two of which are prehistoric. Level 2 bears trace of early to mid-Chalcolithic, and Level 3 of Neolithic settlements. These two levels would have been inhabited by the indigenous peoples of the area, very roughly, between 7th millennium BC to 4th millennium BC. With the seashore drawing away in time, the site was later used as a cemetery. Several graves containing artifacts dating, roughly, from 3000 BC, contemporary with the first city of Troy, were found.

By 1500 BC, the region fell under the influence of the Central Anatolian Hittite Empire who mentioned several localities near İzmir in their records. The first settlement to have commanded the Gulf of İzmir as a whole is recorded, in a semi-legendary manner, to have been founded on top of Mount Yamanlar, to the northeast of the inner gulf. In connection with the silt brought by the streams which join the sea along the coastline, the settlement to form later the core of "Old Smyrna" was founded on the slopes of the same mountain, on a hill (then a small peninsula connected to the mainland by a small isthmus) in the present-day quarter of Bayraklı. The Bayraklı settlement is thought to have stretched back in time as far as the 3rd millennium BC. It rose up to become one of the most advanced cultures in early Anatolian history and was on a par with Troy. The presence of a vineyard of İzmir's Wine and Beer Factory on this hill, also called Tepekule, prevented the urbanization of the site and facilitated the excavations that started in the 1960s by Ekrem Akurgal.

However, in the 13th century BC, invasions from the Balkans (the so-called sea people) destroyed Troy VII and Central and Western Anatolia as a whole fell into what is generally called the period of "Anatolian" and "Greek" Dark Ages of the Bronze Age collapse.

Climate

İzmir has a Mediterranean climate which is characterized by long, hot and dry summers; and mild to cool, rainy winters. The total precipitation for İzmir averages 686 millimetres per year; however, 77% of that falls during November through March. The rest of the precipitation falls during April through May and September through October. There is very little rainfall from June to August.

Maximum temperatures during the winter months are usually between 10 and 16 °C.  Although it is rare, snow can fall in İzmir from December to February staying for a period of hours rather than a whole day or more. During summer, the air temperature can climb as high as 40 °C from June to September; however it is usually between 30 and 36 °C.

Culture

Izmir prides itself with its busy schedule of trade fairs, exhibitions and congresses. The fair and the festival are held in the compound of Izmir’s vast Inner City Park named Culture park in the first days of September, and organized by IZFAS, a depending company of İzmir Metropolitan Municipality.

Izmir was a candidate to host Expo 2015; however Milan won the bid in a 86 to 65 vote. Izmir is currently among the candidate cities bidding to host Expo 2020.

Sights of Izmir

Standing on Mount Yamanlar, the tomb of Tantalus was explored by Charles Texier in 1835 and is an example of the historic traces in the region prior to the Hellenistic Age, along with those found in nearby Kemalpasa and Mount Sipylus.

The Agora of Smyrna is well preserved, and is arranged into the Agora Open Air Museum of İzmir, although important parts buried under modern buildings are waiting to be brought to daylight. Serious consideration is also being given to uncovering the ancient theatre of Smyrna where St. Polycarp was martyred, buried under an urban zone on the slopes of Kadifekale. It was distinguishable until the 19th century, as evident by the sketching done at the time. On top of the same hill soars an ancient castle which is one of the landmarks of İzmir.

One of the more pronounced elements of Izmir’s harbour is the Clock Tower, a beautiful marble tower that rests in the middle of the Konak district, standing 25 m in height. It was designed by Levantine French architect Raymond Charles Pere in 1901 for the commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the ascension of Abdulhamid II to the Ottoman throne in 1876. The clock workings themselves were given as a gift by the German Kaiser Wilhelm II, a political ally of Abdulhamid II. The tower features four fountains which are placed around the base in a circular pattern, and the columns are inspired by North African themes.

The Kemeraltı bazaar zone set up by the Ottomans, combined with the Agora, rests near the slopes of Kadifekale. Izmir has had three castles historically – Kadifekale, the portray Ok and Sancakkale, which remained vital to Izmir’s security for centuries. Sancakkale is situated in the present-day Inciraltı quarter between the Balcova and Narlıdere districts, on the southern shore of the Gulf of Izmir. It is at a key point where the strait allows entry into the innermost tip of the Gulf at its narrowest, and due to shallow waters through a large part of this strait, ships have sailed close to the castle.

There are nine synagogues in Izmir, concentrated either in the traditional Jewish quarter of Karatas or in Havra Sokak (Synagogue street) in Kemeraltı, and they all bear the signature of the 19th century when they were built or re-constructed in depth on the basis of former buildings.

The Izmir Bird Paradise in Cigli, a bird sanctuary near Karsıyaka, has recorded 205 species of birds, including 63 species that are resident year-round, 54 species of summer migratory birds, 43 species of winter migratory birds, and 30 transient species. 56 species of birds have bred in the park. The sanctuary, which covers 80 square kilometres, was registered as "the protected area for water birds and for their breeding" by the Turkish Ministry of Forestry in 1982. A large open-air zoo was established in the same district of Cigli in 2008 under the name Sasalı Park of Natural Life.

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