I recently visited Izmir in Turkey for the first time.
It was an emotionally difficult trip, as I was overwhelmed by the historical background and the events of 1922 (see my relevant article). The seaside promenade that takes the visitor from Republic Square to Alsancak along the Kemal Ataturk boulevard is a landfill. Back in 1922 the shoreline was running along the paved road that is running by the buildings.
At the north of this stretch is the area where the refugees were stuck in September of 1922, trying to get on board a ship. This is the site of a humanitarian disaster, one of the greatest before the second world war.
Fate had it that my visit would coincide with the celebration of the establishment of the present day Turkish Republic – Cumhuriyet Bayramı: 29th October 1923.
The city was fully decorated with flags and portraits of Kemal Ataturk. Very impressive indeed.
On 29 October 1923, the new name of the nation and its status as a republic was declared. After that, a vote occurred in the Grand National Assembly of Turkey and Atatürk was selected as the 1st president of the Republic of Turkey by unanimous vote.
The clock tower in Konak Square was built in 1901 to commemorate the 25th anniversary of Abdülhamid II’s (reigned 1876–1909) accession to the throne. It is ironic that Abdülhamid II (see my relevant article) marks the end of the Ottoman Empire and the emergence of the forces that will in 1923 declare the establishment of the Republic of Turkey. In this respect, the clock tower is a monument that embodies this historical borderline. The clock itself was a gift of German Emperor Wilhelm II (reigned 1888–1918). It is decorated in an elaborate Ottoman architecture. The tower which has an iron and lead skeleton,, at a height of 25 m (82 ft), features four fountains (Şadırvanı), which are placed around the base in a circular pattern, and the columns are inspired by Moorish themes.
Izmir Governor’s official residence (Konak), is an almost identical replica of the original building built between 1869 and 1872, which itself was lost to a fire in 1970.
One of the very few buildings of the “Ionian Jewel” that the visitor can see today in the city is the Izmir Tourism and Information Office.
It used to be the building of the National Bank of Greece. Note that the tower of the North side has been removed.
The Ataturk Museum is located on the quay, and is one of the historical buildings that have been restored.
The Agora (Market) of Izmir, dates back to the Hellenistic and Roman periods of the city’s life.
The archaelogical site is in the area of Konak, on top of a hill.
The neighbourhood around Agora is a working man’s area.
Izmir today is home for over 4 millions of people.
A lot of them have come to Izmir from Anatolia.
The hills surrounding Izmir have been covered by the homes built for the Anatonian immigrants. The old homes are now being replaced by modern multistory buildings. This massive rennovation project will result in freeing the hills from the old homes and create parks and areas of recreation.
Overall, the building activity in Izmir is intensive, extensive, and very impressive.
In spite of the number of people and the challenges this creates, Izmir is a clean and safe city.
Historic Basmane Gar is İzmir’s main station forAegean regional trains, with connections to thesuburban and Metro lines
Traces of art of the past can be found in the city, even in some of sort of bad imitation.
I am happy that I went. In spite of the fact that the emotions are mixed.
After all, so many terrible things in human history have been the result of the quest for “cleanliness”.
So “mixed” is ok.
If you are wondering what the food is like, you can read my article on the Topcu Restaurant in Izmir.
Good night Izmir.