Turkey, İzmir: The Heritage of Multiculturalism
Izmir (also known as Smyrna) has been settled for five and half millennia. The city is located in Anatolia along the bay which is connected with the Mediterranean Sea. The location of the city mean it had experienced rule of many civilizations and empires. The last of them, the Ottoman Empire, conquered Izmir in 1389, in the time when it still was a part of the decaying Byzantine Empire.
In the 16th century, Izmir was a favorite destination of Venetian, English, Dutch and French merchants and it was thus one of the largest centers of trade in the Ottoman Empire as well. It kept its importance throughout the 19th century, the very first railroad on the Turkish soilstarted there. Izmir was a truly cosmopolitan city at the beginning of the 20th century with numerous Greek, Turkish, Armenian or Jewish communities.
After a great fire of 1922 it lost significant proportion of its population, almost a half from its 300 thousand. Yet in the 1970’s its population has began to grow again and it continued since. Today there live more than 4 million people. Also, there are many universities, nine in total.
The International Izmir Festival is a music festival that is held in the city annually since 1987. Every summer world-class musicians and musical groups perform there, among names who play there are Bryan Adams, Elton John or Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra, Red Army Chorus etc. Also the International Izmir Short Film Festival happens annually and its tradition started in the year of 1999, the Izmir European Jazz festival has its tradition bit longer.
In Turkey food has very important role in national culture. People respect health and food and meal preparation is almost art for them. Izmir is no exception there. Its long multicultural tradition uncovers in the form of various meal. Among them is, for example, tarhana, a combination of dry grain, yogurt or fermented milk and vegetables. From these ingredients a thick soup is made. Another meal is kofta, its meatballs from beef or lamb made together with vegetables or rice. Zerde is sweetened rice with saffron
There are lots of places to visit in Izmir. The Izmir Clock Tower is among the modern sights. It was built at the beginning of the 20th century after German Kaiser Wilhelm II send a clock as a gift to Sultan Abdulhamid’s 25 anniversary of rule. The tower where the clock was built in s 25 meters high and it has four fountains around it. The Clock Tower is the symbol of Izmir and it is also depicted on Turkish bank notes.
Kemeraltı - the tradition of this bazaar has origins in the second half of the 17th century. At the bazaar, you may see old and well-preserved caravanserai (a type of road inn). Kemeraltı is perhaps the busiest part of Izmir today.
The Agora of Smyrna – in ancient Greek cities agora was the center of public life. The Agora of Smyrna was damaged after an earthquake in the 2nd century A.D. However, Marcus Aurelius, the Roman emperor, had it restored. Thanks to him the agora is in very good state today. There are colonnades of Corinthian columns and a Muslim cemetery surrounds the agora.
Text: Maxim Kucer
Photo: Wikimedia Commons: Yılmaz Uğurlu, Klingsor
Wikipedia.org: CenkX, Yaldeniz, Burak Huseyin, Omur Tanyel
As we mentioned in the previous, opening article, the most visitors are far from attracting its historic center to Istanbul. Whether it is the Hagia Sophia mosque, the Blue Mosque, the Grand Bazaar, the Topkapi Palace, or just its unforgettable atmosphere in narrow, hilly streets with countless shops. Let's get rid of our article and video.
We have just landed. I take a deep breath. Finally we are at the Bodrum Airport. We get into a bus and 40 minutes later ride downhill to Bodrum. The air has a salty smell of distant lends, colors have numerous shades, and azure horizon seamlessly changes to the sky.
Right now I pass a shop with ice-cream made in Bodrum. I cant miss this place. I take sour cherry, watermelon, and tangerine called dondrumu in Turkish. I continue slightly uphill to less glamorous neighborhood in Bodrum. I go up until a low white wall that surrounds famous Mausoleum in Halikarnassos.
At the theater once again I try to hitchhike a dolmush and continue to Gumbet, another bay beyond Bodrum. I go there to see the Myndos gate. From there a road to the city of Myndos ran. The gate was on a strategically significant location.
I wanted to visit Cappadocia, a land of beautiful horses as the Hittites. I bought a ticket bus and rode from Bodrum to Antalya where I slept over. On the following day I rode across the town of Konya where I visited caravanserai (an oriental pub by main roads where members of caravans and their animals ate) and the museum of Mevlana.
We just enter the city of Konya, the capital of former Seljuk empire. I step off from a bus at a bus station. I pick up my map of the city and head to a tower that shows me the way to the museum of Mevlana. The city spreads on a plateau surrounded with mountains.
Many roads cross Central Anatolia. The most famous is the Silk Road. The Sejluks built there traveller’s inns or also called caravanserais to boost trade as it would protect travelling traders.
For many centuries, Anatolia was a center of Chrisianity, mostly thanks to Apostle Paul and his missionary expeditions. His activity took place mostly around the year 41 AD. Christianity spread due to fertile ground it found in Cappadocia.
My journey now goes across ticket barriers to the museum compound, and then to the St Barbora church, who became a Christian against the will of her father. Initially, he imprisoned her and then killed her. Legend has it that he was struck by lightning for this.
I had my balloon flight above Cappadocia at last. In my perspective, it is there where to do such thing is the best. We were at the place at 5.15 in the morning. There were more than 50 balloons being prepared for flights!
We cruise around the Ortakoy Mosque built by Sultan Abdulmecid in 1853. The construction was done by his architect Nokogos Balayn. It is in the baroque style and it is situated in the European part of the Bosporus. Now we flow under the Bosporus bridge built in 1973 on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Turkish Republic.
Now we go downhill to the harbor. We embark a ferry and choose a bench on the upper deck. Soon the ship set sail. The name Bosporus means Cow ford. According the legend, there live beautiful princess Io in ancient Greece.
A small town Troy is located in Turkey, in western Anatolia. According to a mythos Troy, the Achaeans founded the town lying on the bank of the Scamander River. In front of the town’s entrance, on the parking lot with many free spaces, in a box office you can buy a ticket required to enter the town.
Right now I have been sitting on a bench on a railroad station. I am waiting impatiently for our bus to get started on a direction to Istanbul. I will see it with my naked eye, finally! This magnificent city attracts every traveler looking forward to fabulous adventure!
We are at the horse market. If you have imagination, you can still hear horses. It is here where the Hippodrome used to stand, it was a racing circuit for chariots of four horses. The race took place every year and the Caesar attended it every time. The audience divided into two groups, greens – regular citizens; and blues – nobility.
With so many memories from yesterday we slept so well. Now we are about to have delicious Turkish breakfast, i.e. white cheese, tomatoes, cucumbers, olives, bread… And black tea with much sugar. And we are ready to go. It is like we are invited to see the sultan personally in his Topkapi Palace.
Pergamon King Attalos II gave the city its name after wife of Mysius Telephus, the founder of Pergamon Empire, Hieara. The city has thermal springs, the oldest is named Apollonis, in tribute to mother of a king of Pergamon.
The cars on highway from Sabiha Airport, distant from Istanbul city a couple of kilometres, move slowly ahead. So, it is time enough for the first quick acquaintance with the biggest Turkish town and way of life there.
Have you ever heard of the Silk Road? Do you know how long it is or its route? We will join one caravan and will see… We won’t start in China where the Silk Road begins because it would take us 9000 kilometers to its end in Istanbul. Except for Marco Polo not many people walked it through whole. Majority of merchants used just were using a part of the Silk Road, from bazar to bazar where they bought and sold goods.
It is another beautiful day, so I plan a journey to visit less-known Turkish sites. Come and visit together with me places as Priéné or half-flooded Myndos.
Lets leave gray everydayness and take off on a flying carpet to the Köprülü National Park. There we will stay overnight in a pleasant camp by a river and on the next day we will move off to the spring of the Köprüçay River. After this we will continue through Antalya and Pamukkale to Dres.
Orient – distant, attractive, and spicy land. Just close eyes and you can see it again… Stop thinking about workdays and become absorbed in an atmosphere of One Thousand and One Nights stories in land of bent sabers, reverse half-moon and belligerent sultans. It is a matter of far past when Turks were a menace to Europe and yet people are still fascinated by beauty of Turkey.
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