Before there was Izmir, there was Smyrna, an ancient Roman city on the Aegean coast of Anatolia (now Turkey). Evidence of this fact in modern-day Izmir is most apparent upon visiting ancient Agora, which was the name for a “public gathering place or market” in ancient Greek city-states.
The Agora of Smyrna is one of the best preserved ancient agoras in the world today, in large part due to its excellent open-air museum on site. Built by Alexander the Great and later rebuilt following an earthquake, the still-standing columns, archways and structures offer a glimpse into what a Roman bazaar must have looked like. But there’s more than just the remains of an ancient city here; on the edge of this ancient landmark lies the remains of a Muslim cemetery, with many gravestones dotting the perimeter. Walk through Colonnades of Corinthian columns and among statues of ancient Greek gods and goddesses to ponder the past.
Kadifekale, also known as The Velvet Castle, presides over the town from its vantage point on top of Kadifekale hill.
Built by General Lysimachos, a successor of Alexander the Great, Kadifekale appears to have acted as both a castle and a fort, giving clear views over much of the city and across to the Gulf of Izmir.
Restoration work is underway at Kadifekale but you can see the castle gate, Roman cisterns, watch tower and some castle walls.
Sitting on the coast of the Aegean Sea, Izmir is Turkey’s third largest city and second largest port. Once known as Smyrna, its history goes back to around 3,000 B.C. Today, Izmir is a modern city with a European feel that serves as a jumping off point for visits to nearby Ephesus, Pergamum and Asclepion.
Arriving in Izmir, you’ll dock at Alcansak, about a 20 minute walk from Konak Square – the center of town. If you don’t feel like walking, taxis are also available outside the terminal. A one-way trip should cost around 12-15 Turkish lira. The terminal is also about a 5 minute walk from the upscale Alcansak neighborhood, which offers plenty of shopping and dining opportunities. .
Another option is to join the city’s hop-on hop-off bus sightseeing tour, which passes right in front of the port every thirty minutes. .