Ionia, Turkey

Ionia, the ancient name for the central region of Anatolia on the Aegean coast of Turkey, was once one of the most important centers of Greek civilization. Originally colonized by Greeks from Athens around 1000 BC, the most important Greek city in the region was Smyrna, now known as Izmir, the third largest city in Turkey. Homer, the author of two of the greatest literary works in history – the Iliad and the Odyssey – is believed to have lived in Smyrna. Other luminary Greeks who lived in the region include Thales, a famous philosopher, merchant, mathematician and engineer, the historians Anaximander and Anaximenes and the geographers Hecataeus and Kadmos. The region is also home to several ancient Greek archaeological sites including Ephesus, Pergamum, Priene, Didyma and Euromos which are home to architectural and scientific marvels like the Temple of Artemis and the theater in Ephesus, and the Asklepion in Pergamon, one of the world’s most ancient medical centers.

The Ionian civilization collapsed in the 4th century BC, when the Persians invaded the whole of Anatolia. In 334 BC, Alexander the Great conquered the region and offered these cities democratic self-governance under his protectorate. By 130 BC, the region became a part of the Roman empire. Major monuments like the theater in Ephesus were renovated and rebuilt during this period.

In addition to ancient Greek cities, Ionia also has upscale seaside resorts like Alaçatı and Çeşme. With cobbled alleyways and pale stone houses overgrown with sprays of pink and red bougainvillea, traditional stone villas, discreet boutique hotels, hidden courtyard cafes, art galleries, antique shops, designer boutiques and easy access to over 25 white sand beaches that offer excellent windsurfing and kitesurfing opportunities, these resorts are Turkey’s version of St. Tropez.


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