City of frontiers
Izmir, with its palm-lined thoroughfares and sweeping bay, together with the cruise ship port of Kusadasi, serve as the gateway to civilizations past and present via an irresistible union of stunning scenery, extraordinary historical milestones, archeological marvels, natural wonders and cultural vibrancy. Whether the purpose is a business convention or vacation, exploration or repose, visitors can bathe in the area’s legendary thermal springs, relax on the beaches of Kusadasi and Çesme, thrill to the many festivals and visit the ancient cities of Western Anatolia all in the same day.
Most famous for the ancient city of Ephesus, the thriving capital of Asia Minor under the Roman Empire and site of the home where the Virgin Mary spent the last years of her life, the region safeguards the foundations of Western civilization’s political, philosophical and scientific discourse. Just an hour south of Izmir lie the remains of Priene, the first planned city of the ancient world, where visitors can see the Theatre, Temple of Athena, the Prytaneum, the Agora, Altar of Zeus and Cybele. The nearby, ancient port city of Miletus, one of the principal Ionian cities and twice visited by St. Paul, shared the spotlight with Troy as the chief intellectual and cultural center of Hellenistic Western Anatolia. Visit the Byzantine fortress, the theatre, the Nymphoion, the Bouleterion, the Faustina Bath and Ilyas Bey Mosque. Just minutes away in Didyma, the Temples of Apollo and Artemis and their oracle drew cult worshipers for centuries.
As Turkey’s “Second City,” Izmir is known for its multicultural character and features a wealth of offerings – festivals, museums and art – that act as worldwide beacons for artists and audiences alike. The Izmir International Fair, the oldest tradeshow in Turkey, brings together a series of simultaneous festivals and musical and cultural events to the city’s Kültür Park — attracting visitors from all over the world.
Izmir’s harbor is home to the famous Saat Kulesi, or Clock Tower – a beautiful marble tower 82 ft in height designed by Levantine French architect Raymond Charles P ère in 1901. Near the slopes of Kadifekale, the Kemeralti Bazaar, set up by the Ottomans and combined with the Agora, is the shopping mecca popular among tourists and locals alike for its apparel, textiles and jewelry.
The downtown area is known for its nightlife, live music and seaside restaurants, as well as its important convention center and excellent hotels. As a family destination, Izmir and Kusadasi feature aquaparks, boat trips, beaches, water sports and plenty of archeological sites to explore.
ÇESME ALAÇATI, a village known for its architecture, vineyards and windmills, is also the Turkish center for windsurfing and kitesurfing due to its clear sea and consistent, strong winds throughout the year.
At the end of the day, all will want to partake in bounty of the region’s lush and fertile farmlands, sip wine made by locals up in the hills, enjoy the abundant local seafood and reflect upon the pivotal persons of yore that paved the way to the modern world.