Archaeological Sites in Izmir

By Viator, April 2014

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Known throughout the ancient world as ‘Smyrna’, Izmir's history dates back more than 4,000 years, with archaeological remains that prove the Trojans, Hittites, Lydians and Greeks all had settlements here before the Romans built Izmir into an important trading hub.

Few of the Izmir’s older buildings remain, as the city was almost completely destroyed during the Turkish War of Independence, but there are still some interesting archaeological and historical sites you can visit. Some remains of Roman city Smyrna can be seen at the Agora, and ruins from the Greek and Byzantine periods are spread throughout the city and in the surrounding hills. Here are some worth checking out:

Kadifekale (Velvet Fortress)

Originally built by Alexander the Great, the restored ramparts of the Kadifekale offer sweeping views over Izmir and can be seen from almost anywhere in the city. Its name, which means ‘velvet castle,’ is said to refer to the citadel's walls, which look like velvet. The structure, with its solid stone blocks, Byzantine cisterns and Ottoman buttresses, has the appearance of something out of a medieval fantasy.

The Agora

At the foot of Kadifekale Hill you’ll find the agora — what once was the former Roman city's market. Today the site is a large open space surrounded by ancient columns and foundations, with the well-preserved Roman statues of Poseidon, Artemis, and Demeter at the northwest corner. Part of the agora has been closed off for excavations, but there's plenty to see.

Izmir Archaeological Museum

The Archaeological Museum of Izmir exhibits an impressive collection of Pre-Roman and Roman artifacts recovered from area excavations, including Bergama, Iasos, Bayrakli and Izmir's Agora. The museum grounds are full of oversized amphoras dating to the Hellenistic period, with columns and capitals arranged around the gardens.

This is the place to go for a taste of Izmir’s archeological richness. A chronological exhibit of pottery, ceramics, glass, funerary objects and the reconstruction of a 4000-year-old tomb can be found on the upper floor, while larger stone and marble statues take up the lower floor. The lobby contains a helpful map of Turkey that indicates which regions belonged to which kingdoms in the ancient world.

Tours & Tickets

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Day Trip to Pergamum and Asklepion from Izmir

4.5 star rating: Recommended 30 Reviews

Visit Pergamum, an ancient city dating before the 4th century BC. It's home to the second largest library in the ancient world, the steepest Theatre of ...  Read more

Location: Izmir, Turkey
Duration: 8 hours (approx.)

From USD $120.00

Private Tour: Ephesus and St. Mary's House

4.5 star rating: Recommended 8 Reviews

On this privately guided tour, journey to ancient Ephesus with such sites as the ruins of the Great Theatre, the Library of Celsius and the Temple of Hadrian, ...  Read more

Location: Izmir, Turkey
Duration: 8 hours (approx.)

From USD $108.75

Izmir Half-Day Sightseeing Tour

4 star rating: Recommended 15 Reviews

Discover the magic of Izmir on an introductory half-day tour that covers all the highlights. Wander through the ancient Agora, marvel at the ruins of Alexander ...  Read more

Location: Izmir, Turkey
Duration: 3 hours (approx.)

From USD $50.00

3-Day Cappadocia and Ephesus Tour from Istanbul with Flights

4 star rating: Recommended 7 Reviews

Maximize your sightseeing time in Cappadocia and Ephesus by flying between regions on a 3-day tour! After a flight from Istanbul to Kayseri, discover ...  Read more

Location: Istanbul, Turkey
Duration: 3 days (approx.)

From USD $640.00

Private Izmir City Sightseeing Tour

Upon being met by your guide, commence your tour with a visit to the castle of Alexander the Great Castle, whose history can be traced back to the Fourth ...  Read more

Location: Izmir, Turkey
Duration: 3 hours (approx.)

From USD $66.25

Private Tour: Pamukkale and Hierapolis

There's nothing quite like the unique experience of Pamukkale. It is known as the "Cotton Castle" as it boasts dazzling white, petrified castles and ...  Read more

Location: Izmir, Turkey
Duration: 8 hours (approx.)

From USD $180.00

Private Tour: Pergamum and Asklepion

See the Roman Medical Center ruins of Asklepion, work site of the great physician Galen. With ruins of the Temples of Trojan and Dionysos and the steepest ...  Read more

Location: Izmir, Turkey
Duration: 8 hours (approx.)

From USD $120.00

Private Tour: Jewish Sites in Sardis

Your private tour will depart Izmir for Sardis, capital of ancient Lydia, where once the churches of St. John existed. Sardis is located at the foot of the ...  Read more

Location: Izmir, Turkey
Duration: 8 hours (approx.)

From USD $103.75

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