Located in the heart of Izmir’s old Jewish quarter, it is housed in a 50m-high brick tower and after refurbishment in 1992 it now contains a caf? on the top floor, and the original hydraulics are exhibited on the ground floor. In its heyday in the 1930s, it also contained a theatre, cinema, refreshment stall and photographer’s shop.
The huge Kulturpark in the city centre is one of the densest green areas in Izmir, covering 30 hectares. Within it are a zoo, artificial lake, parachute tower, open-air theatre and a collection of bars and cafes. This has been the venue of the International Izmir Fair every August since 1936.
Within the grounds of Ege University are the Botanical Gardens, one of the best in the country. There are around 3000 species of plants from the tropical regions to the Alps, many of which are kept under artificial conditions. The arboretum has hundreds of species of trees and bushes, and the herbarium centre contains dried plant samples that are preserved for the use of scientific research.
Kordon is the waterfront of Izmir and it is one of the liveliest parts of the city. Sit at one of its many restaurants and cafes for a nice lunch over sea views, or take a stroll before dusk to join the locals who come here to enjoy the beautiful sunset. Nearby Konak Square features the Tower Clock and Konak Camii, an 18th-century mosque with impressive tile-works.
For an authentic oriental taste, take a couple of hours to wander around the maze of Kemeralti Bazaar. Traditional coffee houses are hidden among dozens of jewellery, flower, kitchenware and bead stores around the market’s alleys. For souvenir shopping try Kizlaragasi Han, a covered touristic market housed under a former caravanserai.
On a sunny day walk up Kadifekale Hill to see the Velvet Fort and enjoy some marvellous views of Izmir. First erected by Lysimachos in 3rd century BC, the defensive fortification had been captured by many conquers during the centuries, including the Aydinids, the Genoese and Tamerlane. Each invader destroyed some of the facilities, but also added new parts to the fort. Today the visitor can see parts of the defensive walls, gates, a castle and the remains of a watch tower. Avoid the area after dusk as attacks against tourists have been reported during night hours.
The archaeological site of ancient Agora features the remains of a Roman market built by emperor Marcus Aurelius. The Roman Agora was built on the ruins of a former Hellenistic Agora. Walking around the site you will see marble columns in Corinthian style, a few marble arches and the foundations of domed chambers. Old tombstones are scattered around the site, as it was once occupied by an Ottoman cemetery.
Izmir’s Museum of History and Art houses an interesting collection of ancient statues and pottery from Neolithic era to Roman times. Divided into three sections, the exhibits are focusing on sculpture, ceramics and precious artefacts. If interested in traditional arts and crafts, visit the Ethnography Museum, where you can learn about local customs through interactive displays and admire some fascinating pieces of Izmir’s folk arts.
Dating back to late 16th century, Hisar Camii is Izmir’s largest and most impressive mosque. The light blue ceiling and surrounding walls are ornamented with beautiful golden decorations, while the stone staircase features delicate engraved motifs. For a close-up look at traditional Izmir tile-work, visit Fatih Camii, which also houses a small tea garden and some nice views