Izmir Travel Blog› entry 16 of 19 › view all entries
İzmir, historically Smyrna, is the third most populous city of Turkey and the country's largest port after İstanbul. It is located in the Gulf of İzmir, by the Aegean Sea. It is the capital of İzmir Province. The city of İzmir is composed of 9 metropolitan districts (Balçova, Bornova, Buca, Çiğli, Gaziemir, Güzelbahçe, Karşıyaka, Konak, and Narlıdere), each with its own distinct features and temperament. The total population as of 2007 is 2,649,582, of which 2,606,294 is urban.The total area of the nine districts is 855 km².
İzmir has almost 3,500 years of urban past, and possibly that much more of advanced human settlement. It is Turkey's first port for exports and its free zone, a Turkish-U.
The city hosts an international arts festival during June and July, and the İzmir International Fair, one among the city's many fair and exhibition events, is held in the beginning of September every year.
Despite its advantageous location and its heritage, until recently İzmir has suffered, as one author puts it, from a "sketchy understanding" in the eyes of outsiders. When the Ottomans took over İzmir in the 15th century they did not inherit compelling historical memories, unlike the two other keys of the trade network, namely İstanbul and Aleppo. Its emergence as a major international port as of the 17th century was largely a result of the attraction it exercised over foreigners, and the city's European orientation. Very different people found İzmir attractive over the ages and the city has always been governed by fresh inspirations, including for the very location of its center, and is quick to adopt novelties and projects.