İzmir – Smryna, Beautiful places to visit in Turkey


İzmir is the third largest city in Turkey and the main center for exports. It was the site of the second church scolded by John in Revelation, and the home of the martyred Polycarp. A number of synagogues, and the home of the martred Polycarp. A number of synagouges function as places of worship for the Jewish community. Tourists who stay here find it a useful center from which to explore to whole Aegean region. In addition, there is much to see in İzmir itself.

The history first. A port on the deep İzmir bay, many of its residents have probably always been merchants. The first settlers residents have probably always been merchants. The first settlers about 2000 BC seem to have lived in the Bayraklı region on the northwest side of the bay. There may have been some Hittie influence at that time. According Ekrem Akurgal, the archaeologist who has directed these excavations, the site was a small peninsula that juttet out into the bay. A well-built 7th century BC temple to Athena was found hereİ capitals from the columns appears to have been decorated with a tulip design. Artifacts from the excavation are on exhibit in İzmir’s Archaeological Museum. Ionians took the town in the 9th century BC. By the 7th century its place on the trade routes between Lydia and the west gave it great power and importance in its competition with Miletus and Ephesus. According to Herodotus (who was born just south in Halicarnassus in the 5th century BC), Lydians conquered Smyrna in the 6th century; it declined for 200 years thereafter.

Alexander the Great moved the city from the Bayraklı location to the slope of Mt. Pagus (Kadifekale) in 334 BC. Smyrna was part of the Pergamene Empire from 190 BC until Attalus II willed it to Rome when it became part of the Province of Asia. Romans in Smyrna were slaughtered in the “Asian Vespers” carried out by King Mithradates IV of Pontus in 88 BC when he is said to have killed 80000 expatriates in the province. There was a large Jewish solony in Smyrna at the turn of the Christian era, and one of the earliest Christian churches was established here.

Under the Eastern Roman Empire Smyrna’s leading place in commerce was taken over by Constantinople. It went back and forth between Turkish and Byzantine rule. For a while the Knights of St. John held part of it before Tamerlane took it i 1402 and massacred almost everyone. He was quickly replaced by Turkish rule. After World War I and the subsequent occupation of Aegean Turkey by the Greeks, in 1922 as the Turkish army advanced on the city a great fire broke out which for three days raged through most of the Frankish, Armenian, Greek and Sephardic Jewish sections.

Ancient Smyrna was considered the most beautiful of the cities of the Roman Province of Asia. Many of its public buildings were faced with white marble. Its natural surroundings of mountains, water and fields agreed with the Greek ideal of proportion. It had the advantages of the sea coast for trade, the plains for agriculture and the mountains for respite from the summer’s heat. Unlike the Ephesians, the Smyrnaeans won the struggle to keep their harbor from silting up by diverting the Hermus River (Gediz Nehri) to the northwest. Its most famous native son is Homer; he is thought to have been born near the river Meles, perhaps the small Halkapınar stream that empties into the west end of the bay. (The island of Chios also claims him as its native.)

A few ruins from the Hellenistic or Roman city of Smyrna are visible in place: the excavated market underneath the Kadifekale fortress, a very short stretch of Roman road near the crest of Eşrefpaşa Caddesi and the Roman aqueduct in Buca. Kadifekale itself on the top of Mt. Pagus is medieval in date.

Smyrna figures in John’s Book of Revelation as the place of the synagougue of Satan. John tells the Christians that they are about to suffer for their faith, but he also says that those who are faithful unto death will gain a crown of life.

While there is no record of any visit by Paul to Smyrna, probably he was in the city at least once or twice because he was resident in Ephesus for over two years. There was a lot pf traffic between the two cities. If, as is thought, he traveled overland part of the silversmiths, it would be logical for him at that time also to have visited the Christian communities in Smyrna, Sardis, Thyatira and Pergamum.


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