Izmir

Once the ancient city of Smyrna, Izmir’s presence can be traced 8500 years back into the past. Today, Izmir is the third largest city in Turkey with a population of around 4 million, half of which is under the age of 30, making it a very vibrant city. With broad boulevards, glass-fronted buildings and modern shopping centers dotted with traditional red-tiled roofs, an 18th century market, and old mosques and churches, the atmosphere of the city is more similar to Mediterranean Europe than traditional Turkey.

Through its history, Izmir has been a home to many different cultures and religions including the Hittites, Trojans, Assyrians, Persians, Greeks, Romans, Byzantines and Ottomans. Believed to be the home of Homer, Izmir is a great base to explore the ancient Ionia and Aeolia regions that played a pioneering role in Greek civilization. Ephesus, Pergamon, Priene, Didyma and Euromos are just a few of the incredible archaeological sites within a few hours drive of the city. For coastal resort lovers, the 17th century towns of Alaçatı and Çeşme are Turkey’s version of St. Tropez, 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.

Last but not least, Izmir is a foodie’s heaven, especially for seafood. Due to its multicultural history and its location in the Aegean and Mediterranean regions, Izmir offers fantastic food and wine. Apart from amazing meze and fresh fish, Izmir is also known for tarhana soup (sundried tomato, flour, and curd), the famous Izmir köfte (meatball), zerde (rice dessert made with saffron), and the Sephardic classic boyoz (pastry made of flour, sunflower oil, and tahini and stuffed with different fillings).


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