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What to see and do in Izmir – a guide to notable attractions and landmarks

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Ancient constructions, bazaars, wildlife, water sports… things to pique a traveler’s interest never end in Izmir. As the beating heart of the Aegean coast, Izmir stands in the midst of ancient history, art, culture and Mediterranean sandy beaches. For an unforgettable view of the city, watch the sunset from the city’s castle, get lost in time as you stroll around one of the best-preserved ancient Greek cities, and set your pulse racing as you surf the sea with the wind brushing you by.   

Mehmet Gozen

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Izmir (Aegean Coast)

The Clock Tower

 

A visit to Izmir wouldn’t be complete without a holiday snap next to the Clock Tower, the city’s most famous landmark. Built in 1901, the 25 meter high tower is the symbol of the city and stands proudly in the center of Konak Square. Also known as the Eiffel Tower of Izmir, the marble monument was designed by the Levantine French architect Raymond Charles Pere to commemorate the 25th anniversary of Abdullhamid II’s accession to the throne. Marvel at the Ottoman architecture style, the four fountains that circle the tower and the columns inspired by Moorish themes.

 

Ephesus

 

Only a couple of hours from Izmir lies one of the greatest and best-preserved sites in the Mediterranean: the ancient Greek city of Ephesus. Dating back to 6000 BC, Ephesus is home to one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, the Temple of Artemis, along with the Library of Celcus, an antique theatre, and many other temples, monuments, agoras, marble roads and tombs. It’s not hard to lose track of time in Ephesus as you marvel at the endless splendor of the remains. The easiest way to access the attraction is from the Izmir Adnan Menderes Airport.

 

Kadifekale

 

Kadifekale is an ancient castle and fortress built by General Lysimachos, a successor of Alexander the Great. The ‘Velvet Fortress’ crowns Kadifekale Hill and from there it gives a clear view of the city and across to the Gulf of Izmir. Soak up the history of the region as you explore the ruins conceived to guard the people of Smyrna (Today, Izmir). When twilight falls, stare down on the beautiful city for the most panoramic views of Izmir; you can even catch a glimpse of Kurdish women working on horizontal carpet looms.

 

Kemeraltı Bazaar

 

The city’s heart and soul, this massive bazaar should be in your agenda when you visit Izmir. Offering the best bargains in town, this is the place to shop for clothes, souvenirs, presents, jewelry and leather goods. Stroll around the endless aisles, seek out the flower and bead markets or sip on a reviving Turkish coffee in one of its central cafes. While strolling around the bazaar, don’t forget to visit the city’s largest mosque, Hisar Camii. There, marvel at quintessential Izmir decoration: simple blue-and-gold motifs on the ceiling, roses and grapes carvings and the designs on the stone staircase.

 

Windsurfing in Alacati

 

If you are into water sports and you left Izmir without visiting Alacati, start packing - you need to go back. Indeed, the paradise beach resort of Alacati lives and breathes windsurfing and is one of Izmir’s top attractions. Sandy beaches and perfect wind conditions have made Alacati one of the best kite and windsurfing spots in the world, attracting surfers from far and wide. After several adrenaline rushes, relax with the laid-back atmosphere of the town and admire the Greek architecture in its houses. Then dance the night away in one of the many beach clubs in town.

 

Cesme

 

Cesme is the largest and most popular resort near Izmir for both local and foreign visitors. Laze on Cesme’s sandy beaches and sunbathe without a care in the world, or practice a water sport. In fact, Cesme is one of the top kite boarding destinations in Europe and attracts professional surfers from all over the planet to its azure waters. But Cesme also attracts hardcore party-goers to its shores. All day, all night, the fun never stops at Cesme’s beach clubs: rock all day at lively beach parties and then dance the night fever away as they turn into electrifying discos.