Izmir, the city of indulgence, has hosted many different cultures and religions over the years. Here in Izmir, the possibility of finding structures from different religions -at the Historical Kemeraltı Bazaar, for example- or hearing the sounds of azan and bells at the same time is very high.
In the center of Izmir, there are many mosques dating back to the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries. There are also smaller prayer rooms called "mescit"s serving to those who would like to pray, as well as mosques, most of which reflect the Ottoman period architecture. Hisar Mosque, Şadırvan Mosque, Kestanepazarı Mosque, Başdurak Mosque, Kemeraltı Mosque, Yalı Mosque, Salepçioğlu Mosque, Damlacık Mosque, Odunkapılızade Mosque, Tradesman Sheikh Mosque, Naturzade Mosque, Çorakkapı Mosque, and Asmalımescit Mosque are among the mosques that can be seen in the city center.
Also, there are plenty of churches that can be used for prayers in the city center and districts. Saint Polycarp Church, Aya Fotini Church, St. Vukolos Church Culture Center are among the churches that can be visited in the city center. The Virgin Mary House that is very important for Christians and declared as the "place of pilgrimage" at Selçuk, "Double Churches," which is the first church built for Virgin Mary, Bazilika, which is built for Jesus' favorite apostle, St. John, Seven Sleepers Cave, and three of seven churches built in Anatolia make Izmir an attractive location in terms of religious tourism.
In Izmir, there is a large number of synagogues that are very important for Jews and date back to 16th century. Synagogues in Izmir are mostly located at Göztepe, Kemeraltı, and Karşıyaka. A special permission is needed to visit these synagogues, Beth Israel Synagogue, Shalom Synagogue, and Algazi Synagogue are among the synagogues open for worship in the city center. Appointments are needed to visit the religious structures belonging to Judaism.
Charity stone, stone of the secret benevolent
The people of Izmir, who would like to help poor people clandestinely, carried out their charity in an interesting way in the last century. The stone or marble columns, which are located at the Turkish neighborhoods, mosques, prayer room entrances and courtyards and carrying the traces of the antiquity, were used as charity stones by the caring people of Izmir.
Those who would like to relieve other people clandestinely used to leave the help on the stone that is also called as "fukara" (almsman) or "hidayet" (true path), and those in need of help used to come here and take the aid secretly. Located at the Namazgah district, in the courtyard of the Kurşunlu Mosque, which Evliya Çelebi had visited, the cylinder charity stone with a hollow in the middle is the living proof of the culture of unmediated solidarity.
Hisar Mosque, which is one of the mosques located in the historical Kemeraltı Bazaar with its magnificient glory, is also surrounded by the Yorgancılar (Quilt Makers), Yağcılar (Oil Sellers) and Peynirciler (Cheese Makers) bazaars in addition to Kızlarağası Inn. Being one of the oldest and biggest mosques of İzmir, Hisar Mosque was named after the fortress, which was close to it during the times it was built
In some resources, it is written that the mosque was built in 1598. According to one of the rumours about the mosque, three donators had it built and that’s why it has three gates and three mihrabs.
Despite all the noise and active life going on outside, the feeling of peace and trust as soon as you step inside the mosque is not in fact a coincidence because on the main entrance door of Hisar Mosque, which is one of the biggest mosques of İzmir, it is written “Anyone who comes in is safe”.
The top of the mosque was covered with tiles and had only the middle big dome when it was first built and the courtyard is short since there was the sea in front of it at that time.
The small square in front of the mosque, called Hisarönü, has become a delightful area for İzmirians today where they can drop by and have chats, drinking coffee and tea. In this area, which is always active and crowded, there are mainly the flower seedling sellers. You can do shopping in the small shops next to the main gate of the mosque. Also, there are authentic places here to drink tea and enjoy the chat.
One of the five mosques in Kemeraltı is Şadırvan Mosque, which is located on the area that was once inland sea coast in the past. Since it was by the sea during the times it was built, it doesn’t have a courtyard. The mosque, which dates back to the end of the 16th century and early 17th century, is known as Şadırvan Mosque due to the fountains in the yard which are located under and next to it.
The mosque, which also gives its name to the neighborhood it is situated in, is in “fevkani” form, that is to say, it is one floor above the shops on the ground floor and has one dome and one minaret. It is made of face stone. The top of the fountain is covered with a dome and there is an epigraph on the skirts of the dome. In the dome, there are fascinating original flower ornaments.
In the west of the mosque, there is a library next to the structure. The Bird House near the eaves of the western part of the mosque attracts attention. There are hand-carving ornaments on the vaults of the passage under the mosque and on the dome of the fountain. The inner side of the mosque is decorated densely with gold gilded ornaments and hand-carvings. The dome in front of the mihrab is glamourized with hand-carvings. In this part, the views of İzmir were illustrated. The mansions by the sea, elegant tree motives and the sailboats surprises the ones who see them.
The forms of the mosque by the dome, called the “Baldaken”, are attractive. The same forms were also used in the fountains of Konak Clock Tower, a famous structure of İzmir.
Kestanepazarı Mosque (Chestnut Bazaar Mosque)
The mosque, situated in the historical Kemeraltı Bazaar on an area called Kestane Pazarı (Chestnut Bazaaar), where there are the spice shops, clothes shops and grain stores, was built by the son of Emin, Hadji Ahmet Aga in 1663. The mosque used to be by the inland sea coast during the times it was built and it is between the Başdurak and Şadırvan mosques. The mihrab, which was brought from İsa Bey Mosque in Selçuk, is one of the most beautiful mihrabs in İzmir. It has an eight-sided fountain within the Zahireciler Bazaar (Grains Bazaaar) where the entrance is found.
The structure whose real name is Hadji Hüseyin Mosque was once called with this name as well due to Başoturak district in Kemeraltı where it is located. The structure, which was constructed in 1652, is in fevkani form just like Şadırvan and Kestane Bazaar (Chestnut Bazaar) mosques. One floor above the ground floor under which there are shops, there is a bazaar in mosque style with its single dome and minaret. The hand-carved ornaments inside the mosque are impressive. The mosque is the only structure in İzmir on which there is a sultan signature.
Kemeraltı Mosque is the closest mosque to Konak Square of the five mosques that are located on the old inland sea coast. It is also known with the name of the person who had it built, Ahmet Aga, as Ahmet Aga Mosque. The structure, which was built in the mid 17th century, has got a single minaret and a single minaret balcony. There is also a madrasa in the courtyard of the mosque, which was built in the same year with the mosque. The fountain near the mosque is known as Foundations Fountain and is still being used.
Yalı Mosque standing in Konak Square as a precious masterpiece is known as Konak Mosque by the public. The mosque, which is one of the symbols of the square like the Clock Tower, was built in the 18th century inside a madrasa on that location. There is a small courtyard that surrounds the mosque from outside. The Government Office, İzmir Metropolitan Municipality and public institution buildings are located on the area around the mosque.
It was built by Hadji Ahmet, the son of Salepçizade Hadji Mehmet. The mosque, which can be reached by passing through the Salepçioğlu Bazaar built in the place of the Big and the Small Salepçioğlu Inns, was opened for worship in 1906. It is a magnificient mosque with rather elegant lines. There is a madrasa downstairs and the mosque is upstairs.
It is thought that this elegant structure located in Damlacık, one of the oldest districts in İzmir, was built in the early 18th century. It is thought that some parts of the Asclepios Temple situated in this region are under the bases of the mosque. In an excavation done in 1933, a 270 metres long and two metres wide base which was thought to be an underground cellar was found under the graveyard next to the mosque. It is thought that a huge part of the burial area of the mosque disappeared in time.
This beautiful structure, located on a downhill in Damlacık that goes down to Konak, was constructed by Odunkapılızade Başağa Hadji Mehmet in the mid 18th century. In the yard of this mosque, which has burnt down several times, there is a small burial area. In the final community area of the mosque, there is a fountain that is known to have been in the same street in 1739.
Esnaf Şeyh Mosque
It is known that the mosque located in Arap Fırını district in Konak was built in the 18th century. The burial area of the mosque is known as the most important burial area among the similar mosques in İzmir.
It is thought that this mosque was built around the second half of the 18th century and early 19th century but it is not clearly known by whom it was built. There is also a small burial area in the garden of the mosque. In the courtyard of the mosque, there is a sample of alms stone in which money was put in for the people in need during the last century in İzmir.
On the marble epitaph of the mosque built by Kurt Mehmet Pasha, it is written that it was built in 1893. Its extremely high minaret along the street, which is made of red face stone, was built by the order of Sultan Abdülhamit.
The mosque, located in the entrance of Basmane, was built in the mid 18th century by Bostani Mahmut Efendi. Since it was built on a point in one of the exits of the city during the Roman era, it is also known as Taşrakapı Mosque. It also has a burial area on the front, which is facing Anafartalar Street.
The mosque, which is known to be active in the early 19th century, burnt down in 1894 and was rebuilt after the fire.
Emir Sultan Tomb
Emir Sultan Tomb in the Pazaryeri District in Basmane is one of the most significant tombs in İzmir. In the burial area of the tomb, several people are buried some of whom are well-known and some are not, including Katipzade family members. Uşakizade Sadık Bey, the grandfather of Atatürk’s wife Latife Hanım, and his wife, the Governor of Aydın Ahmet Esat Pasha, a doctor called Şehri Bey who founded the Poorhouse and Kadi of İzmir, Abdülkadir Pasha, are a few of the people who were buried there.
Saint Polycarpe Church
This church, which is one of the oldest structures in İzmir that reached our day was built in 1630 with a private permission from Sultan Suleyman the Magnificient taken by the Capuchins who came to İzmir in the early 17th century.
The land of the church was bought by the King of France and was donated to the community. In 1895, the church had a significant restoration and most of the work for the interior decoration was done by S. Raymond Père, who was also the architect of İzmir Clock Tower. Père reflected the life story of St. Polycarpe on the murals in the church. Saint Polycarpe was a remarkable saint who worked a lot to spread Christianity in the region. There is bell tower erected in the southern end of the Western front. The church is active today.
Saint Polycarp and his possible grave at Kadifekale
Saint Polycarp is one of the first disciples of the Apostle and Evangelist Saint John. Saint Polycarp, who came to Ephesus from Izmir, is burned to death by the Romans in 155 AD. Some sources mention that his grave is located at the crest of Kadifekale. The grave that is located at Kadifekale and defined as the tomb of Dede Yusuf by the Turks is assumed to be Saint Polycarp's grave.
Researches are carried out about the grave, which is thought to be located at the field of Inkılap Primary School by the researchers in Izmir, and causing a stir in the Christian World.
Aziz Vukolos Church Cultural Center
The Orthodox Greek Church, also called Agia Vukla, was built in 1886. It was opened for worship before the fire in 1922 in the Agia Vukla region in Kapılar district of Basmane.Today the name of the distirict is changed as Gaziler District and the church in this district was used as Monuments-Attica Museum for a period of time. In 1943, it was named İzmir Archaelogy Museum and this name was valid until the museum building in Kültürpark was opened in 1951. Saint Vukolos Church, which was restored by İzmir Metropolitan Municipality, is used as a cultural centre that hosts culture and art activities and as the Press Museum today.
Beth Israel Synagogue
The synagogue, the construction of which started in 1905 but could not be completed until 1907, was built under the Italian influence. Located on the main street and opened out to the street, the synagogue is the first example of the church-style planning in Izmir. Preserving its authenticity, the structure has lasted to date. Inside the synagogue, the interior of which is quite spectacular, wedding ceremonies are organized.
Built by the Algazi Family in 1724, this structure is the biggest synagogue after the Beth Israel Synagogue. The difference of this synagogue than the others is that it does not contain a separate section for women, which is called Azara This structure also affected by the fire of 1841 like other places in the region and has been restored many times. Today, it is in good condition but closed.
Sabbatai Sevi House
The house, in which Sabbatai Sevi, an important cleric for Jews born in 1626, is assumed to live, is located within the Agora Open Air Museum today. It can be seen clearly when you travel from İkiçeşmelik to Mezarlıkbaşı. The restoration of the house is being made by Izmir Metropolitan Municipality.