Located along the coastline of the Aegean Sea, Izmir is Turkey’s third most populated city with close to 3.5 million residents. The majority of the population are of Turkish decent, yet there are a large number of foreign residents attracted to the climate, lifestyle and highly developed infrastructure.
Izmir has been a popular destination for many years, with a long history dating back to settlements in the 3rd century BC. Throughout the history of Izmir, the city has attracted Italian, English, Dutch and French merchants as the port area acted as an important trade centre, especially during the 17th century. Izmir’s long multicultural history is also evident in the local cuisine, creating a fusion of influencing flavours.
The ideal position of the city’s port has continued activity to become the country’s second largest, following Istanbul. The Izmir port also contains a Free Zone that was established in 1990 as a joint venture with the US. US influences in the local area also extend to the city being one of the locations of a US Space Camp.
Developing from a predominantly merchant trade, agriculture and fishing area, Izmir has become one of Turkey’s most dynamic cities of educated professionals with an enviable lifestyle. The desirable Mediterranean climate has assisted with the city’s appeal, with mild winters and long summer’s averaging around 30ºC.
The preferable climate has created an ideal environment for a healthy outdoor lifestyle, with an extensive variety of cultural events scheduled throughout the year. Open air theatres, exhibitions, arts centres, concerts and festivals enable a varied range of options to entertain locals and visitors. Other options such as amusement parks, an open-air zoo and bird sanctuary appeal to all ages.
The attraction of living in Izmir is further enhanced by the excellent network of transportation connecting the city to the rest of Turkey and several major cities throughout Europe. The international airport has been upgraded to cope with the growing demand, and construction is underway to connect it with the local subway system.
Modern, rapid train services run regularly along the coastal areas connecting Izmir to Istanbul, along with buses. A large coach terminal has recently been completed on the outskirts of the city, creating additional transport options. The extensive and modern transport services in Izmir connect all of the city’s ten metropolitan districts, creating an ideal location for permanent living as well as an attractive holiday destination.
Few landmarks of Izmir’s past remain following the past conquests and re-constructions, along with the modern growth and expansion of the city. Previously existing as a walled city with three castles and a traditional bazaar area, these days only part of the city walls remain and one of the castles. Standing in the surrounding hills, the one remaining castle of Izmir’s past acts as a prominent landmark of the city. Another famous landmark or more recent construction is the tall marble clock tower positioned on the edge of the harbour.
One of the more dramatic changes to the face of Izmir city in recent times was the result of a law passed in the mid 60s. Designed to replace the single story buildings of the city to larger 8 story apartment blocks for the rental benefit of landlords and building contractors, the local landscape changed dramatically. The instant increase in capacity of residents converted the agricultural and fishing town into the city it has become today. Currently housing 6 universities and a variety of schools renowned throughout the country, Izmir combines the perfect blend of educated professionalism with a coastal resort relaxation.