Izmir: A Special Glossary for a Special City

Izmir is the pearl of the Aegean, a fascinating city whose history begins in the mists of legend. Turkey's third largest city and second most important port, Izmir is the centre of tourism in the region. This modern city still retains traces of its ancient, Ottoman and Levantine past.

AGORA: Revealed in central Izmir during excavations carried out in 1932-1941 in the district of Namazgah. eovering an area of 120 x 80 m, the agora throws invaluable light on Roman period Izmir. it was not only a market place, but the location of public institutions and the Temple of Zeus. The agora is open to the public between 9.00 -12.00 and 13.00 -18.00. The statues found here are on exhibit in Izmir Archaeological Museum.

ALSANCAK: A select neighbourhood with a unique character in modern Izmir. Stretching from the waterfront esplanade inland most of the area has been transformed into a pedestrian precinct, so there is no trarffic to disturb shoppers and strollers.The streets lined by modern buildings and attractive shops lead onto the square where Alsancak station stands. Dating from 1858 the colonial architecture of the station distinguishes it in style from the rest of the city. Trains to Buca, Aydin and Denizli depart from here.

ANGLICAN CHURCH : This church was built in 1835 by Levantines of English extraction living in Buca. The church is famous for its wood carving, beautiful stained glass windows and huge organ.

ASANSOR: The city's famous public elevator, and a symbol of Izmir. This elevator links Mithatpasa street below with Halil Rifat Pasa street at the summit of the precipitous hill. It was built in 1907 and restored by the municipality in 1993. The upper terrace has a breathtaking view over the city and the bay. Here there is an Open-air cafe, a restaurant and a Genoese tavern.

BALCOVA: This spa is on the outskirts of Izmir on the road to Urla and Çesme. Turn left at Inciralti crossroads to reach Balçova thermal springs one kilometer down the road. Known as the Agamemnon Springs in antiquity, this may have been the first hydrotherapy center of the ancient world. Today there are modern facilities for visitors to the hot springs and luxury hotels. The temperature of the water is 63 degrees C.

BARLAR SOKAGI: Street of Bars. Some of the attractive old houses under conservation order in Alsancak now house bars and restaurants.

BASMANE: In this district are Izmir's oldfashioned shopping streets, the park where the famous Izmir Fair is held each summer, and Basmane station. The trains to Manisa, and suburban rail buses to ßornova and other destinations leave from this station.

BORNOVA: A suburb of Izmir, Bornova was the hub of the Levantine community in the late l9th and 20th centuries. Today it houses the campus of Ege University. The Izmir-Manisa road passes through Bornova, which is linked to the city centre by a 7 km railway line.

BUCA: Once Izmir's summer resort, Buca is today part of the city. With a population of 200000 in 1990, Buca is today a commercial and university district. The British Levantine merchants who ran businesses in Izmir from the late l8th century onward s built imposing mansions here. Not until the 1950s did Buca undergo radical change as various institutions moved into the mansions, whose extensive gardens are under conservation.

CLIMATE: Typical mediterranean climate, with hot dry summers and warm wet winters. The average temperature is 18 degrees C. Snowfall is extremely rare, and approximately 148 days of the year are clear and sunny.

CLOCK TOWER: Another symbol of the city, this picturesque clock tower in Konak Meydan was built in 1901 to commemorate the 25th anniversary of Abduhamit II's accession to the throne. The clock itsetf was a gift of Emperor Wilhelm II of Germany. The 25 m high tower is currently being restored.

CESME: This popular and attractive resort west of Ï:zmir is famous for its modern hotels, sparkling clean sea and wonderful sandy beaches.

CIPURA: Izmir's Iegendary fish. Found widely in both the Mediterranean and Aegean, this delicious fish with a dark blue back and silvery sides is now extensively farmed. Go into any of Izmir's many sea food restaurants and order grilled Cipura, acc ompanied by a salad of diverse local herbs and pure olive oiI. What could be more sublime!

DOKUZ EYLUL: 9 September l922... The day when Izmir was liberated from three years of Greek occupation following the Great Attack launched by the Turkish army on 26 August. One of the major events ln the Turkish War of Independence, this date is th e name of one of the city's universities.

EPHESUS: An ancient city three km from the town of Selcuk south of Izmir. During both the Hellenistic and Roman periods Ephesus was the most important port and cultural centre of the eastern world. The remains of the city are still spellbinding tod ay. The magnificent temples, public buildings, vil- las and streets ot Ephesus have been excavated and restored by the Austrian Archaeological Institute, and it requires little effort to imagine the cily as it was in its heyday.

FOCA: A picturesque fishing town 50 km north of Izmir. A magnet for holliday makers during summer today, Foca was an important Ionian town in antiquity. The Phokaians were famed for their commercial prowess, courage and seamanship. They establishe d trading cololnies at distant ports, and were the founders of the French port of Marseilles (the ancient Massalia).

HISAR MOSQUE: The city's most magnificent mosque in the district of Hisar next to Kemeralti office complex. The mosque was built by Yakup Bey in 1592. It is roofed by a large dome resting on eight piers, and noted for the decoration on the altar ni che and pulpit.

HOUSE OF THE VIRGIN MARY: This holy Christian shrine on Mt.Bulbul between Selcuk and Ephesus was sanctifìed by Pope Paul VI in 1967, after the Vatican confirmed that the Virgin Mary had spent the last years of her life here. Numerous travel agencie s in Izmir organise day tours to the House of the Virgin Mary and Ephesus.

IMBAT : The sea breeze which brings relief to Izmir's inhabitants in the blazing heat of high summer.

IZMIR FAIR: Since I932 this international trade fair has been the highlight of the summer season in Izmir. From late August to early September the fair doubles as a popular festival of music and stage events in the Culture Park.

IZMIR KOFTE: 'Izmir's best known local dish, now popular almost everywhere in Turkey. But to enjoy it at its finest you must eat it at the house of an Izmir family or in an old fashioned backstreet restaurant in the city. Finely minced meat is kne aded with Onion juice, salt, pepper and fresh breadcrumbs. Shaped into balls or fingers this mixture is fried, and placed on a bed of fried green peppers, tomatoes and potatoes in a shallow pan. Serve hot.

KADIFEKALE: Velvet Castle, to be literal. This 4th century BC castle commands a bird's eye view of Izmir and is th perfect place to watch the sun set over the city.

KARS IYAKA: The name of this district of Izmir on the north shore off Izmir Bay means "opposite shore", as indeed it is. The inhabitants of this pleasant residential area with its Own esplanade claim an identity distinct from the rest of the city. In their view, Karsiyaka is a town in its own right with an individual cultulre and history.

KEMERALTI: The old fashioned shopping district of Izmir, consisting of narrow streets winding their way from Konak towards central Izmir around Anafartalar Caddesi. Here you can find jewellers, drapers, shoemaker, and shops specialising in all kind s of goods from leather to olives and cheese. The atmosphere of an earlier century still pervades the bulidings here, with their distinctive 19th century doorways and roof tiles.

KORDON: The famous esplanade between Konak Meydan and Alsancak is packed with promenaders on weekends and fine evenings. As families and young lovers hand in hand stroll along the waterfront, horse-drawn phaetons with colourful ponpons swinging from the harnesses es trot past, and cars cruise by. Izmir's esplanade is the subject of a popular old song:"My lover seemed to say/Let us meet on the Kordon one day/Perhaps at ten o'clock".

LOKMA: Lokma is Izmir's celebrated sweet pastry. Tiny balls of yeast dough are fried in hot oil and steeped in syrup as you wait. Queues olf customers gather at the stalls where the best lokma is made.

PASAPORT: (Not a printing error, but the Turkish for "passport). The name for the dock and pier between Konak and Cumhuriyet Meydan. Pasasaport Dock was built in 1876. The dock building is in the Turkish revival style inspired by Ottoman and Selcuk architecture which was popular in the 1920s and 1930s. Until not so long ago the area was full of old fashioned coffee houses which served waterpipes as well as tea and coffee, but today pubs have supplanted most of them.

PERGAMUM: The remains of this magnificent ancient city are situated north of Imir. Founded in the early 3rd century BC, Pergamum was the most powerful and extensive kingdom of Western Anatolia throughout the Hellenistic periold. Parchment is though t to have been invented here. On the hill which rises steeply in the centre of Pergamum is the Acropolis and the world's steepest amphitheatre with seating for 16,000 people. The remains of temples Of Athena and Dionysus. The splendid altar of Zeus at the entrance of the Acropolis was taken to Berlin Museum by Carl Humann in 1871. A fligth of 20 steps leads up to this remarkable structure, which dwarfs the room at Berlin Museum, as it awaits expectantly the day when it will be released from confinement and return to its hilltop site in Pergamum.The ruins of the Asclepion on the plain below reveal almost all the original features as a result of the excavations. Named after the god of medicine Asclepios, this complex was one of the foremost heath cent ers of the ancient world.

SELCUK: A town in the foothills of the Aydin mountains 94 km south of Izmir. SeIcuk is the site of Ephesus Museum, a magnificent castle and the 6th century Basilica of St.John. The road to the resorts of Marmaris and Bodrum passes through Selcuk, w hile Kusadasi, port of call for many yachts and cruise liners, is just a twenty minute drive to the north.

SMYRNA: The ancient name for Izmir and the heroic Amazon who founded the city according to Herodotus and Strabon.

TEOS: The ruins of Teos are set amidst olive groves at one end of Sigacik harbour near Seferihisar, famous for its beaches and thermal springs. Thales relates that Teos was selected as capital of the league of twelve Ionian cities in the 7th centur y BC. The largest temple of Dionysus ever built in Teos.

TEPEKULE: Excavations at Tepekule in the district of Bayrakli have thrown light on Izmir's early history. Izmir was oriinally a settlement of the Aeolians, who were conteporaries of the first Trojans, and dates back to the third miilenium BC. The c ity was subsequently occupied by the Ionians, and the Lydian King Alyattes conquered the region in 600 BC, razing Izmir's temples and houses. Today the ruins of the Temple of Athena and houses can be seen at Tepekule.

URLA: Urla is a resort 42 km from Izmir n the road to Cesme. Izmirians spend their summers and weekends here, the site of the ancient Ionian city of Klazomenai. This city was the birthplace of the illustrious philosopher Anaxogoras, and is latterly also famous for a local pastry dish "katmer" and for its meat and fis restaurants.

WILD HERBS: Dishes made with fresh herbs have a special place in the Aegean cuisine. When spring comes local markets are filled with green vegetables, many of them local wild varieties gathered from meadows and mountains, such as radika, turpotu, h ardalotu, and cibes (the first shoots of cauliflower) and many more. The leaves are washed, blanched and served with a ressing of lemon juice and olive oil.

Source: Hasmet Babaoglu,

Turkish Airlines Cityscope, April 1994, pp.7-11.

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Melih Özbek