Feel The Life

Yüksel Güngörmüş

You cannot get enough of the sunset in Kordon. The street food will blow your mind. There is nothing like exploring the streets of Kemeraltı, one of the largest historical open-air bazaars in the world. You will be enchanted by the Smyrna (İzmir) Agora, which has witnessed the past 2300 years of history in İzmir. In this city, you will feel life down to your bones...

For those who want to take a tour of history, culture, taste and leisure, İzmir offers its visitors amazing stories. İzmir, which has hosted dozens of civilizations with its 8500-year-history, enriched with different cultures from Greeks to Levantines, Armenians to Jews, still carries the traces of that cosmopolitan spirit. It is not in vain that Victor Hugo compared İzmir, whose reputation spread to the west, to a princess in his poem "La Captive". This city, built around the İzmir Gulf, is like a dowry chest with its streets opening to the sea, its liveliness, historical buildings, museums and gastronomic flavors, each of which is a cultural heritage. The coastal towns, from Çeşme to Seferihisar, from Urla to Karaburun, each a piece of heaven, take the city to the top of the list of "liveable cities”. Well, how about taking a short tour in Izmir?

Touring time in Alsancak

Alsancak and Kordon located at the heart of the city are lively all day long with the cafes and restaurants, entertainment venues and elegant shops. You can find the shops of world brands on Mustafa Bey Avenue, Plevne Boulevard and Gül Street. Especially Gül Street impresses with its European atmosphere. Gül Street, once known as Rue de Roses, was one of the most popular streets of cosmopolitan Izmir in history. In the district known as Frenk District, this region, where Greeks and Levantines used to live, was like a small Paris with its rose gardens, houses extending to the sea and elegant shops.

İtalya Street in Alsancak is also ideal for a stylish day with its tastefully decorated cafes. We recommend you to see Meksika Street, which is always crowded with street vendors and shops, especially with chestnut food carts.

Sunset in Kordon

With hundreds of bars, cafes, restaurants, shops lined up side by side, Kordon is full of life with people who are there to set the sun. The Cumhuriyet Square, where the Atatürk Statue is located, can be accepted as the starting point of Kordon. From here, you can reach the Gündoğdu Square by walking along the beach and passing by many restaurants and cafes. The coastline, where blue and green are intertwined, excites the city with bikers, runners, walkers, young people who enjoy the lawn along the coastline, and street vendors. Let's invite those who say “less shopping, more fun” to Kıbrıs Şehitleri Street. In Kıbrıs Şehitleri Street, where there are many restaurants, cafes and shops, you can also find street food unique to İzmir such as kokoreç, stuffed mussels, boyoz and sübye.

Smyrnian (İzmir) Agora

Every corner of İzmir, one of the important port cities of the Western Anatolia, Asia, Aegean and Mediterranean and hosted many civilizations, is like a treasure waiting to be discovered. First established at the site, today known as Bayraklı, and reconstructed by Alexander the Great on the Pagos Hill, today known as Kadifekale, İzmir draws attention with the Smyrna (İzmir) Agora where the excavation works are still underway. Witnessing the past 2300 years of history in Izmir, Agora is considered as one of the rare examples in the world with its features and size in a living city. Agora, which includes the "City Council" with a four-hundred-people-capacity and the Ancient Roman Bath, is more like a state agora rather than a commercial one. With the relief statue of Poseidon made in the Roman period and the Goddess Demeter Relief, Agora also draws attention with its graffiti collection, which is estimated to be made 1800 years ago. Here, there are hundreds of graffiti, some painted with anger, some with longing or gratitude. The graffiti in Smyrna Agora places Smyrna among the graffiti-rich centers such as Delos, Pompei, Rome and Ostia, and the first in terms of Greek graffiti.

The Ancient Theater excavations on the northern slope of Kadifekale, estimated to have twenty-one thousand people capacity, are also underway. When the theater is revealed completely, İzmir will have another ancient theater after Ephesus and Bergama.

The Western Anatolian history resides here

There are many museums in the city center of Izmir. The İzmir Archeology Museum serving in the modern museum building in Bahribaba Park in Konak, exhibits unearthed works in various excavations in the Aegean Region such as Bayraklı (Smyrna), Ephesus, Bergama, Miletos, Klazomenai, Teos and Iasos and shed light on the Western Anatolian history.

Ataturk Museum in Kordon fascinates with its Neoclassical style consisting of a mixture of Ottoman and Levantine architecture. When İzmir Economic Congress was held on February 17, 1923, Atatürk carried out his personal works here. He stayed in this house every time he came to İzmir between 1930-1934.

There are 530 works in the İzmir Art and Sculpture Museum in Kültürpark. The collection includes the works of great masters such as Şeker Ahmet Ali Paşa, Hoca Ali Rıza, Hikmet Onat, and İbrahim Çallı, as well as the works of distinguished artists from various periods.

İzmir History and Art Museum is also in Kültürpark. Here you can find many important works especially those including archaic, classical, Hellenistic and Roman-period sculptures and architectural plastic works, the Artemis-Poseidon-Demether Reliefs, the statue showing the River God Kaistros, one of the outstanding works of the Roman Period, the sculptures unearthed in the Metropolis Excavation, friezes of the Teos Dionysos Temple  and the reliefs of the Miletos Theater.

There are also boutique museums

İzmir also has boutique museums. Located in Alsancak, a first in Turkey and Izmir, the Mask Museum features the examples of masks from many ethnic groups from theater ritual masks to Australian Aboriginal and African tribal masks. The Joy and Cartoon Museum (Neşe ve Karikatür Müzesi), also in Alsancak, offers an archive where you can watch the humorous accumulation of the Mediterranean culture in the visual field. One of the boutique museums in Izmir is the Izmir Women's Museum in Basmane. In this museum, which tells the stories of Anatolian women, you will witness many stories in different themes such as “protest and women”, and you will meet the first female writer, actress, deputy, doctor, and conductor in Turkey.

Art in the galleries in Izmir

It is possible to make an art trip that will take days in Izmir.

Because there is a considerable amount of art galleries. The Folkart Gallery, with an 800-square-meter-area, Turkey's largest art gallery, which hosted the works of many exhibitions from Robert Capa to Adonis, Bedri Rahmi Eyüboğlu and Jorge Marin, and the Arkas Art Center at the Birinci Kordon are among the important art galleries in İzmir.

Discover Kemeraltı

Kemeraltı, the historical bazaar of İzmir, is a place where taste leaks into culture and culture to taste. The Historical Kemeraltı Bazaar, which has the title of "World's oldest bazaar", dating back to nearly five thousand years, has more than ten thousand tradesmen in more than 230 different business lines with more than 800 thousand different product types.

One of the most important places of the bazaar is the Kızlarağası Inn, which is estimated to be completed in 1745. It is one of the rare examples of Ottoman architecture in Izmir. Each corner of the inn, which has a courtyard and two floors, is filled with authentic elements. Here, you can find a wide variety of handcrafted products, carpets, authentic jewellery and antiques, and you can have a nice coffee in the open garden in the middle of the inn and experience the mystical atmosphere.

Hisarönü, right next to Kızlarağası, is a special place with a variety of restaurants. The square, which has two fountains in the middle, is crowned with the imposing image of the Hisar Mosque, which dates back to 1592. Meşhur Hisar Söğüşçüsü in the square is one of the famous taste centers in İzmir. The owner of the place, Mustafa Usta, came to Kemeraltı in 1975 and started selling söğüş in food cart. And it has become a brand. You can eat Turkey's best şambali at Meşhur Hisarönü Şambalicisi. They cook şambali, one of the flavors identified with İzmir, in wood fire and in copper trays. 

Visit the “45’lik Plak Evi”

Historical Abacıoğlu Inn in Kemeraltı is one of the places where you can spend time with its natural architecture and peaceful structure. It is estimated that it was built at the beginning of the 18th century and it was among the 30 best architectural buildings in the Philippe Rotthier European Architecture competition, and there are many places to see in the inn. We especially recommend YOLO Art & Lounge here. Established in 2015, YOLO is a very special place where art and taste are intertwined. The second floor of the place famous for its burgers is an art gallery. Another place here is Ayşa Boşnak Börek Shop. You should definitely try the delicious Bosnian Mantı here.

By the way, do not skip the famous Kemeraltı Pickle Store in Kestanepazarı.

In the Mirkelamoğlu Inn, you follow the traces of the old town and stop by the record store “45’lik Plak Evi”. The inn, which hosted fabric, ribbon and yarn merchants at the time of its construction, is still a home to Bizim Mutfak, one of the most famous restaurants of the city that serve Aegean dishes.

Dario Moreno and the Elevator

The Historic Elevator (Asansör) building in Karataş and Dario Moreno Street are also among the most important attractions of the city. A street elevator that was built to end the trouble of climbing the 50-meter 155-step stairs to reach the upper districts from Mithatpaşa, is an attraction center where you can view the whole gulf view. You can watch the unique view and sunset and have a dinner at the Historic Elevator, which was built by the Jewish businessman Nesim Levi Bayraklıoğlu in 1907 and was bought by businessman Şerif Remzi Reyent in 1942 and transferred to İzmir Municipality in 1983 by his successor Ayla Ökmen. 

The 302 street extending perpendicular from Mithatpaşa Street to the Elevator is named after the world-famous singer Dario Moreno. The house of the artist is also located here. When you enter Dario Moreno street, two sculptures welcome you at the entrance of the street. One is Enrico Macias‘s, and the other is Dario Moreno’s. The street is lively with all the cafes, restaurants and shops and historical buildings.

The city, which became prominent during the Hellenistic Period and was the capital of the Kingdom of Pergamon, was built in this period and has many structures bearing the traces of the Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine, Seljuk and Ottoman periods worth seeing such as mosques, inns, baths, fountains, synagogues, and covered bazaar. The father of all physicians, Claudius Galens, and parchment paper are the most important contributions of Pergamon to the world cultural heritage. Parchment is known as the best quality writing tool that humanity has ever invented until today. The people of Pergamon created a great cultural treasure in the library they created from the books they made from parchment paper, and competed with the Egyptian civilization. You should definitely visit the Bergama Museum here. In the Ethnography section of the museum, where the artifacts obtained in archaeological excavations that started in 1878 and the artifacts unearthed in the excavations in Asklepion that began in 1927 are exhibited, carpet, rug, fabric weaving samples and handicrafts of the region are exhibited. A model of the Bergama Zeus Altar, of which the original is currently exhibited at the Bergama Museum in Berlin since it was taken to Prussia in 1870, is located in the archaeological artifacts section of the museum.