Izmir is a perfect choice for escape from the daily grind and to embark on a spontaneous city break
Magazine Diplomacy & Commerce has an honorable task to visit Izmir as part of our cooperation with the Embassy of Turkiye in Serbia and the National Tourism Board of this beautiful country.
As a reporter and editor who worked on this special edition, I had the great pleasure of visiting Izmir in late October. It was a perfect long weekend holiday. I had a wonderful time exploring an ancient but modern city with an exciting atmosphere and delicious cuisine. This city is a perfect choice for escape from the daily grind and to embark on a spontaneous city break.
The allure of Izmir’s rich history, vibrant culture, and picturesque coastline had been fascinating. Right upon arriving in Izmir, we felt the warm embrace of the Mediterranean climate after check-in at Hotel Movenpick at the kilometer zero location of the city center.
Izmir revealed itself like a hidden gem nestled along the Aegean coastline. With its rich history, vibrant culture, and breathtaking landscapes, I was eager to embark on a journey through this Turkish city that promised a tapestry of experiences.
A GLIMPSE OF HISTORY
The adventure began in the heart of Izmir at Konak Square. Standing tall and proud, the iconic Clock Tower welcomed me to a bustling scene of locals and tourists alike. The historic Kemeraltı Bazaar beckoned, its narrow alleys adorned with colorful textiles, aromatic spices, and the lively banter of shopkeepers. As I wandered the market, the blend of traditional Turkish crafts and modern souvenirs captivated my senses.
In the afternoon, I ventured to the Agora Open Air Museum, where the echoes of ancient life reverberated through the well-preserved ruins. The Agora’s columns and arches spoke volumes about the vibrant marketplace that once thrived here. The National Tourism Board organized a gala dinner for participants of the Euro-velo conference. I was a part of that sporty and happy group of people from all over Europe. Dinner was spectacular within the walls of ancient Agora, where Alexander the Great slept once after he conquered the city from the Amazonas. He settled later at the Kadifekale, the Velvet Castle, at the hills, whose ancient stones whispered stories of conquerors and civilizations. Izmir sprawled beneath me from the castle’s heights like a patchwork quilt of redtiled roofs and minarets.
The agora’s columns and arches spoke volumes about the vibrant marketplace that once thrived here
SEA BREEZE AND SCENIC VIEWS
A morning stroll along the Kordon, the city’s waterfront promenade, offered panoramic views of the Aegean Sea. The scent of saltwater mixed with the aroma of Turkish coffee wafting from the charming cafes lining the promenade. As I sipped my coffee, I marveled at the seamless blend of historical landmarks and modern energy Going south, I discovered an interesting hipster neighborhood where famous Turkish musician Dario Moreno, of Sefardic Jewish origin, was based. Once upon a time, it was the Jewish quarter, today famous for the historic Asensor (Elevator) carrying tired people from sea level up to the hill. In the footsteps of the Asensor, there are a few cobblestoned streets with interesting cafes and galleries designed in Latino style, remembering Moreno’s origins from the Iberian peninsula.
A JOURNEY TO EPHESUS
A short trip from Izmir led me to the ancient city of Ephesus, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Walking through the marble-paved streets, I was transported back in time. The Library of Celsus, the Grand Theater, and the Terrace Houses revealed the splendor of a bygone era. A serene atmosphere enveloped me at the House of the Virgin Mary, providing a moment of reflection. Nestled in the hills near Ephesus, village Şirince was renowned for its picturesque setting, historic charm, and the warmth of its inhabitants. After a scenic drive through olive orchards and vineyards, Şirince suddenly appears like an old romantic postcard scene with its terracotta-roofed houses, narrow cobblestone streets, and vibrant bougainvillea draping over the stone walls.
Izmir cuisine is a delightful fusion of flavors
Like much of Turkish cuisine, Izmir cuisine is a delightful fusion of flavors influenced by the region’s history, geography, and cultural diversity. Izmir, surrounded by olive groves, is known for extensively using olive oil in cooking. Dishes like Imam Bayıldı (stuffed eggplant with tomatoes and olive oil), Artichokes with Olive Oil, and Fava (broad bean puree) showcase the region’s emphasis on fresh, high-quality olive oil. A local specialty, Kumru is a sesame-crusted sandwich with various ingredients, such as Turkish sausage (sucuk), pastirma (cured beef), cheese, and sometimes pickles. It’s a popular street food and a quick, satisfying snack.With its coastal location, Izmir boasts a rich variety of seafood dishes. Grilled fish, calamari, shrimp, and octopus are commonly enjoyed, often seasoned with local herbs and served with fresh salads.