Izmir, the third largest city in Turkey, is described as the pearl of the Aegean. It is a major port and commercial centre set dramatically around a huge bay and backed by mountains to the south.
İzmir, with its ancient name of Smyrna, was established on a hill called Tepekule which is on the north-east of the bay now called the Gulf of İzmir. The magnificent and indeed rich history of İzmir and its first inhabitants goes back long before 3000 BC but excavations so far only date back to that time. From the evidence of excavations, the first settlements dated from the Ancient Bronze Age and were founded at the top of the hill about 3-5 metres above sea level. The settlements established on the Aegean coast were developed under the rich influence of the Trojan civilization.
Hittites settled in Anatolia in around 1800-1200 BC and their writings help us to understand the history of that time. The famous author Homer wrote about the Hittites in the Iliad.
Around 1000 BC, the Aiolos and the Ionians came from Greece and settled in Smyrna and its surroundings, now known as Bergama (Pergamon),Manisa (Magnesia), Urla (Klazomenai), Kemalpaşa (Nimphaion), Çesme-Ildırı (Erythrai), Sığacık (Teos), Selçuk (Ephesus).
Smyrna gradually became richer up to the 7th century, thanks to trade with neighbours, especially Lydia. The good relationship between them lasted many years untill Lydia was conquered by the Persians.
In 334 BC, Alexander the Great arrived in Anatolia and brought the Persian sovereignty to an end. The Hellenistic period began and the new inhabitants of the region settled around Kadifekale (Pagos Mount).
The city was ruled by the Roman Empire from 27 BC until 324 AD. The Agora, Acropolis, Theatre and Stadium all contained evidence of the Romans from this period. The roads from Kadifekale to Ephesus and Sardis were built by the Romans, who made the city an important trade centre and harbour of Asia at that time.
At the beginning of the 16th century İzmir was an important seaport for world trade. In order to check the ships entering and leaving the Gulf of İzmir, a castle was built on the narrowest point of the bay. During its struggle for liberation, İzmir suffered mass destruction and huge fires. In 1922, the Greek army was driven out by the great
Turkish leader Mustafa Kemal Atatürk and İzmir started to become a modern city of the young Turkish Republic.