Izmirs history goes back to 3000 B.C. according to the results of
historical knowledge and archaeological excavations. Findings and
many investigations have been made to enlighten Izmirs history: The
continuous excavations on the Bayrakli ridges by Prof. Dr. Ekrem
Akurgal since 1959, the discovery of the Zeus Altar by the German
archaeologist Carl Humman in Pergamon (Bergama) between 1866 and
1878, the discovery of the Artemis Temple in 1869 by the British
Wood and the continuous excavations by Austrian archaeologists at
certain intervals of the city of ancient Ephesus since 1904. Also
many researchers in different universities are still investigating
on the citys historical development.
Many legends are known about the derivation of the name of Izmir.
According to the knowledge acquired from scientific studies the word
"IZMIR" came from Smyrna in the ancient Ionian dialect and it was
written as Smyrna in the Attican (around Athens) dialect. The word
Smyrna was not Greek, it came from Anatolian root like many other
names in the Aegean Region from the texts belonging to 2000 B.C. in
the Kültepe settlement in Kayseri, a place called Tismyrna was come
across and the (Ti) at the beginning was omitted and the city was
pronounced as Smyrna. So the city was called Smyrna the early years
of 3000 B.C. or late 1800 B.C. In the Turkish era the city was
In the years of 3000 B.C. Western Anatolia was under a rich Trojan
civilization influence. The settlement areas built on the Aegean
coast also developed generally under the Trojan influence. The
Hittites which Homer wrote about in the Iliad, were an active force
and civilization in the Anatolian mountain pastures because the
Trojans were allies of the Hittites and they had a big influence on
the Aegean settlements. As a matter of fact Pitane (Çandarli) in the
Bakirçay River basin and similar settlements were built by the
Hittites. It is believed that the Amazons lived in the area between
Caria and the Lydia which today is the sides of the Yamanlar
Mountains, and they carried on their existence until the arrival of
the Aiolos and the Ions.
The Aiolos and the Ions who Fled from the Doric invasion around 1000
B.C., came from Greece and settled in Izmir and its surroundings.
The important Aeol and Ionian settlements are as follows: Bergama
(Pergamon), Manisa (Magnesia), Izmir (Smyrna), Urla (Klazomenai,
near Cesme), Kemalpasa (Nimphaion), Cesme-Ildiri (Erythrai), Sigacik
(Teos), Phokaia, Selcuk (Ephesus).
Until the 7th century B.C. Izmir got richer because of its trade
with its neighbors especially Lydia. Its good neighbor relationships
with Lydia lasted until the Lydians were conquered by the Persians.
The Persian sovereignty ended with Alexander the Great's arrival to
Anatolia in 334 B.C. In these years, in which the Hellenistic period
began, a new settlement was formed around Kadifekale (Mount Pagos)
and its city walls belong to the Hellenistic period and have
undergone many restorations in the following periods.
The city, which was tied to the Pergamon Empire in 197 B.C., passed
into the control of the Roman Empire after a short period between 27
B.C. and 324 A.D. Roman control transformed Izmir into an important
trade and harbor city. For the west, Izmir was seen as the center of
Asia. In this period the Agora, Acropolis, Theater, Stadium, and
constructions that did not remain up to now, like the libraries and
the fountains, were built during this period.
The two roads stretching from Kadifekale (Mt. Pagos) to Ephesus and
Sardis were built during the Roman period. In 324 A.D. after the
Roman Empire was divided into two, Izmir had been taken by the
Byzantine Empire and Ephesus especially was an important cultural
and religious center in the classic Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine
periods. An important development was not seen during the Byzantine
Even though Izmir came into the possession of the Hun Emperor
Attila, this authority did not last long and the city re-taken the
Kutalmisoglu Suleyman Shah in 1076 was the first conqueror of Izmir
by the Seljuk Turks. In the period that the famous sea admiral Çaka
Bey was appointed as the mayor of Izmir; Urla, Foça and the Islands
of Sakiz (Chios), Samos and Istanköy (Cos) were conquered. After
Çaka Beys death the city and its surroundings passed into the
possession of the Byzantines in 1098. Then Izmir was taken by the
knights at the time that Istanbul was invaded by the Crusaders. In
1320 the Turkish sailor Umur Bey returned Izmir from the Catholic
knights and added it to the Turkish land.
In the period of the principalities, Izmir and its nearby
surrounding were under the reign of the Saruhanogullari
principality. Pergamon (Bergama) and its surroundings were tied to
Karesiogullari principality. The reign of Izmir and its surroundings
passed into the Ottoman hands completely in 1426.
The following Turkish architectural constructions are distinguished
examples of the Turkish culture built during the Ottoman period,
they have adorned Izmir for centuries: The Hisar Mosque, The
Sadirvan Mosque, the Hatuniye Mosque, the Konak Yali Mosque, the
Kemeralti Mosque, the Kestane Bazaar Mosque, the Izmir Clock Tower,
the Kizlaragasi Han (Inn - commercial building), the Mirkelamoglu
and Cakaloglu Inns and other inns (trade places for spending the
night), Bedesten (Ottomans special trade constructions).
Beginning with the 16th century Izmir had an important place in the
world trade. There was an increase in the consulates of foreign
countries especially due to the capitulations that the Ottoman
government provided for Europe. It is known that these consulates
participated in the trade activities and each anchored their ships
in the bay.
A castle was built on the narrowest point of the bay to check the
ships entering and leaving the Izmir Gulf. New constructions were
built in the second half of the century to help developing of the
citys trade. Among these constructions, the most important examples
are the customs building in the 19th century, the sectors of
packing, insurance, stock and banking.
In the years of the struggle of Liberation, Izmir underwent a great
wreckage with huge destructions and fires. With the driving away of
the Greek army by the leadership of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk on
September 9th 1922, Izmir started to become a modern city of the
young Turkish Republic and developed this character more everyday.
Today, Izmir is the third largest city of Turkey with a population
of 3,739,353 (as of December 2007).