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Why Travel to Izmir, Turkey

As all Turkish cities, scenic Izmir boasts a rich history and offers an interesting range of things to explore. It started as the antique Greek city of Smyrna until the Lydians conquered the city somewhere around the 6th century BC. But their rule didn't last for long, the Persian emperor successfully crushed the capital of the Lydian Empire and wiped Smyrna from Earth in the process. But the city was never forgotten. In the 3rd century BC, Alexander the Great decided to rebuild the city in a different place and Smyrna lived through some relatively calm years before ending up as part of the Ottoman Empire in the 15th century. All of it led to an extraordinary mix of cultures and traditions, making Izmir one of the most interesting Turkish cities to visit.

You can start your Izmir itinerary with exploring the impressive city center and the Izmir Agora, located right in the heart of it. This small part of history transports you 2 000 years back to the times of the mighty Roman Empire when this place was a Roman-Greek market, filled with life and noise. The archway leading to the lower levels is still in very good shape and the same freshwater that was bursting out of the market's fountains all those years ago still runs through a moat on the floor.

The amazing Hierapolis-Pamukkale is also among the sights in the area, popular for day trips from Izmir. The ancient city's most known trait is the natural sky-blue hot springs, flowing down the hillside. Shaped by calcite-laden waters, the landscape there is unreal, full of mineral forests and fossilized waterfalls. In the 2 century BC, the king of Pergamon ordered to turn this magical place in the thermal spa of Hierapolis, so after exploring all the sarcophagus and the ruins of ancient baths, take some time to bathe in those same mineral pools Romans used centuries ago.

During your Izmir tour, you can't miss one of the most popular stops on the Silk Road in Turkey, Ephesus (meaning "desirable"). The city was built in the 10th century BC and more than 300 000 people lived there during its brightest days and even more people came from all over the world for the Ephesus' market. It was an incredible place, offering exotic spices, fresh fruit and vegetables from all around the globe, and world-famous clothing from the Turkish craftsmen. And now Ephesus still draws millions of people from all over the world, wanting to explore the rich history of the city.

Actually, it was the Temple of Artemis (550 BC) which brought fame to Ephesus. The city used to be one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World but now everything that remained from the ancient temple is one single pillar. Ephesus was called the city of Seven Sleepers.

"Must" Things to Do in Izmir

  • Explore the Izmir Agora
  • Go on a day trip to Ephesus
  • Visit Hierapolis-Pamukkale
 

According to the legend, originally these Seven Sleepers were persecuted, due to their faith in God. So they ran and found shelter in the cave near Ephesus. They've fallen asleep and stayed there for centuries in order not to be found while the city grew around them, and today there is a lot to explore. The magnificent Celsus Library is a highlight of any Ephesus visit, it was a unique construction, built using a double-wall technique to ensure the safekeeping of 12.000 scrolls housed there. Not far from the library, you can find some of the most impressive buildings in the Roman Empire, including the Great Theater, the Temple of Hadrian, and the picturesque terraced houses.

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Immerse in the heritage of multisided Turkey as you explore its culture and traditional architecture in Istanbul, its ancient side touring Ephesus, as well as its natural wonders in stunning Cappadocia. This program is customizable and includes stays at top properties, private airport transfers, and guided tours.

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