Asia Minor Travel & Tours - Your Guide to Turkey


Izmir is Turkey?s second largest port and third largest city. This major industrial and commercial center is mainly used by tourists as a base for nearby well-known archaeological sites such as Ephesus and Pergamum. The city is connected to all corners of Turkey by bus, train, and fights.

The first settlement in the city was at Bayrakli in the prehistoric period. At the heart of the Ionian region, the city turned into a prosperous settlement in the 9th century B.C. Alexander the Great moved the settlement to the top of Mount Pagus in the 4th century B.C. and named it Smyrna.

South of Izmir, near the town of Selcuk, is Ephesus. Representing many cultures of bygone eras, it is the most famous of the cities of Asia Minor. It established and developed governmental and economic systems and played a major part in the growth of various branches of the fine arts. It was once the commercial center of the ancient world. With its colonnaded arial streets, monumental fountains, administrative, religious and public buildings, including the restored Library of Celsus and an enormous theater, it is an outstanding example of an ancient Roman city.

East of Izmir lies Sardis, the capital of the Lydian Empire and the city of King Croesos. It was here that the first coins were minted. Sardis was also the site of the one of the Seven Churches mentioned by John in the Book of Revelation.

Another nearby site, Magnesia ad Sipylum, was founded by the Thessalonians returning from Troy in the 12th century B.C. It was captured by the last Lydian King Croesus in the 6th century B.C. Alexander the Great later ended Persian control and the city continued its importance in the Byzantine days. When the Crusaders occupied Constantinople, the emperor John III (1222-1254) built a citadel in Magnesia. After the return of the Byzantines to Constantinople in 1261, Magnesia declined in importance.

The Mourning Rock of Niobe was descrided by Pausanias: ?I myself have seen Niobe when I was climbing up the mountain of Sipylos. Niobe from a close up is a rock and a stream, and nothing like a woman grieving; but if you go further off you seem to see a woman downcast and in tears?. He is referring to the myth of Apollo and Artemis slaying the children of Niobe to avenge the insult to their mother.

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Last modified: 
February 25, 2014