Aegean Turkey (Izmir And Environs)

Izmir is the third biggest town in Turkey today and it is the leading city in the Aegean region of Turkey culturally and economically. Today the region is one of the main tourist destinations of

Turkey and famous with its fabulous Greco Roman sites.

Ancient Greek city-states were in all over Mediterranean, Aegean, Marmara and Black Seas. Two sides of the Aegean Sea was the heartland of this civilization. Ionian city-states had a leading role economically and culturally. Miletus was a colonizing sea power until 6th century B.C. Many towns on the Sea of Marmara and Black Sea today were Miletus colonies in ancient time. Priene and Ephesus were other major Ionian city-states of the time. The philosophers and scientists that we still admire today were the citizens of the Ionian cities:

Thales is the first man as far as we know that predicted solar eclipse in 585 B.C. and talked about atom as the smallest unit. Heracleitos emphasized about change in everything by saying “one cannot step into the same river twice”. Pythagoras explained everything with the aid of mathematics.  Anaximander and Anaximenes searched to find basic substance of the life.

Lydian Kings invaded the Aegean region and Sardis in the east of Izmir, became important centre. These boastful kings lost their kingdom to Persian Kingdom in 546 B.C. Ionian city-states became part of it too. Miletus and Sardis was important settlements of this period.

The campaign of Alexander the Great included the area into the huge empire of Alexander and after his death in 323 B.C.; the Aegean region became part of the Kingdom of Pergamon. The capital was Pergamon in the north of Izmir. Hellenistic period was short but essential. Because in this period Greek language and culture became dominating language and culture not just on the sea shore zone but also inland hinterland as well such as Aphrodisias and Hierapolis. Pergamon Kingdom with its hinterland swallowed up by Romans in 133 B.C. Pergamon was the seat of Roman governors but Ephesus became the major city especially in Roman Empire period.

After the 3rd century A.D., these once great cities fall into desolate places in time. One reason was Gothic attacks and it became clear that Pax Romana (Roman Peace) was over. Meanwhile plagues wiped out big part of the human race. There was also one essential natural cause for the decay of the seaside port towns. The silt of the nearby rivers made the sea further and further away. When the ports were filled with the silt, trade became impossible.

Ancient Byzantium that was called Constantinople after the 4th century became important political, cultural, economic and religious centre for the whole Roman Empire. Trade communities moved to the centre of the trade and this damaged the population of these towns.

Also big city life was over, production style has changed and new culture and religion started to rule: The Christianity. The attacks of Sassanids and Arabs after the 6th century just had the duty to level these once important settlements to the size of villages.

The Greco Roman sites of the area are eye flashing and tiring but in the evenings, you may go to Kordon, seaside of Izmir to have the “imbat”, evening breeze and see the sunset on the wine red sea. Just join the stylish people of Izmir to enjoy a meal or just a drink!

  Page Up