Turkey. Izmir Historical monuments in Izmir.
Izmir, the second most important city of Turkey, and neighboring resorts on the Aegean Sea coast is a popular summer holiday destination for Ukrainians. Some of them, resting on the sea, buy day trips to nearby monuments. However, the excursion possibilities of the Aegean coast of Turkey, or Asia Minor, as the ancient Greeks called it, are far from being fully used in Ukraine. The ancient Greek name of Izmir is Smyrna. The city was founded in the second millennium BC. Unfortunately, Izmir was badly damaged by earthquakes, wars and fires. Therefore, there are few attractions left in the city: several mosques, the Archaeological Museum, a caravanserai and the Clock Tower. But there are a lot of monuments around Izmir, and therefore it is convenient to go on excursions from it, which tourists do in the city itself and in the nearby seaside resorts – Chesme and Kusadasi.
A half hour drive north of Izmir lies Bergamo, now a Turkish village, and in ancient times the ancient city of Pergamum. The ruins of the once famous library, theater, temples of Troy and Dionysus and the altar of Zeus are preserved around the acropolis, which rises on a mountain above the city. This huge marble altar was built in the 2nd century BC. and was rightly considered one of the seven wonders of the world. Now it is reconstructed and is the main exhibit of the Pergamon Museum, specially built in Berlin. Not far from the acropolis are the ruins of another monument known in ancient times – Asklepion, a temple associated with the cult of the god of health and healing Asclepius (Esculapius). An excursion to Pergam costs $ 20-25 per person.
Further north, about 6 km south of the Dardanelles, are the remains of the famous Troy. Unfortunately, about the brilliant Ilion, once sung by Homer, nowadays neither luxurious palaces, nor temples, nor even columns remind of it. Only the walls and gates are preserved. Moreover, the “Trojan Horse” is a modern monument stylized as antiquity. About the past wealth and magnificence of Troy can be found in the local museum. A day trip to Troy costs about $ 30-40. Some Turkish travel agencies offer to visit Pergam and Troy on one trip.
Going south from the city of Kusadasi, you can get to the ancient city of Ephesus. This famous policy is almost completely preserved. In Ephesus was the famous temple of Artemis, later destroyed to the ground by nomadic tribes. But two theaters survived (one of which is designed for 24 thousand spectators), the temple of Hadrian, the gate of Hercules, whole streets, a library and even a local brothel with a well-preserved road sign to it. Tourists are particularly interested in this particular landmark of Ephesus. According to legend, Ephesus was the last refuge of the Apostle John and the Virgin Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ. During the tour, the tourists are shown the house in which the Virgin Mary spent her last days and the Basilica of Sts. John (in Selcuk), erected on the tomb of the Apostle in the VI century. A tour to Ephesus from Izmir costs $ 35.
Another excursion is popular with Western European tourists – to the ancient Greek cities of Miletus, Priene and Didyma ($ 40 per person). The first one deserves special attention. Miletus is the birthplace of many Greek philosophers, such as Anaximander, scientists and architects (Isidore was born here). The main decoration of the city is a theater designed for 25 thousand spectators. The Terme of Faustina, the wife of Emperor Marcus Aurelius, is also well preserved. Not far from the southern part of the city there is an interesting monument of a completely different period – the Ilyas-Bey mosque of the XV century. This square building with a huge dome is distinguished by the elegance of architectural forms, as well as rich decor – an abundance of marble sculptural reliefs. The ruins of the temple of Demeter and the street system in the form of a network (an excellent example of urban planning) can be seen in Priene, now it is the Turkish village of Gulloubahce. In Didim, where the god of art Apollo was worshiped for a long time, his temple was preserved in the 4th century BC. – one of the most sacred places of the ancient world. Many centuries ago, a sacred road ran from this temple to Miletus. In terms of size and significance, the monument was second only to the temples of Artemis at Ephesus and Hera on the island of Samos.
Of course, the most popular excursion among Ukrainians having a rest in Izmir is a visit to Pamukkale (the “Cotton Castle”). These are cascades of white stalactites descending into healing thermal springs containing limestone salts. Due to their healing properties, people in Pamukkale came to be treated in ancient times. Here are the thermal center and several hotels with swimming pools. In addition to bathing in the sources of Pamukkale, tourists explore the ruins of the ancient Greek city of Hieropolis, as well as Aphrodisia, an ancient city known mainly for the cult of Aphrodite, the goddess of beauty. The stadium of this polis is best preserved in Asia Minor. There are more interesting sights around Izmir than mentioned in this review. Our tourists usually go on excursions only during the summer holidays at sea.