Historical Buildings to See in Izmir’s City Center
Thanks to its history of thousands of years, İzmir presents itself with a historical building in every corner. Some of these buildings are waiting for their visitors in the city center and some in the surrounding districts. Here are the famous historical buildings you can see in Izmir’s city center.
Historical Kemeraltı Bazaar
The first historical place to see in the city center is the Historical Kemeralti Bazaar. Combining the traces of the past with the texture of today, Kemeraltı is a place where you can meet your every need with its colorful stores while standing out as one of the historical buildings worth seeing with its inns and fountains. One of the biggest open-air bazaars in Turkey, spreading over 270 hectares of land, Kemeraltı not only attracts history and shopping enthusiasts but also gourmets with its restaurants where you can taste special tastes for the city.
We recommend you to spend at least one day in this bazaar to visit the shops where you will find everything you need and to discover different tastes.
The Clock Tower
The first place that comes to mind when you mention İzmir is The Clock Tower, located in Konak Square, the heart of the city. The 25-meters high and 4-story tower was built in 1901 as a tribute to the 25th anniversary of the succession of the throne of Sultan Abdul Hamid II. The lower part of the tower, which is in the form of a fountain, is distinguished from its peers by its original architecture. Thanks to its location, the tower is one of the meeting points of the locals in İzmir.
The Historical Elevator
Another one of the city center’s popular historical places to visit is the Historical Elevator where you’ll find the most beautiful view of Izmir.
This building, which also gave the district its name, was had built by a Jewish businessman named Nesim Levi. The Elevator, which was built between Mithat Pasha Street and the 40-meter high Şehit Nihat Bey Street, was built on an old quarry and put into service in 1907. The elevator saves everyone from climbing the 155 steps between Mithat Pasha Street and Halil Rıfat Pasha Street. The elevator tower consists of three floors. The elevator itself is now electrically driven.
This is a perfect spot to take photographs. There is also a classy restaurant and café at the elevator, which can be reached from both Mithat Pasha Street and Halil Rifat Pasha Street.
Alsancak Terminal and Clock Tower
Alsancak Terminal, of great importance in the development of İzmir in the 19th century, and the clock tower, the first clock tower of the city, are among the most important places to see in Alsancak. This historic structure, which has witnessed stories of millions of passengers throughout history, should be in your travel plans.
Alsancak Terminal opened in 1958 to become one of the oldest railway stations in Turkey. It’s the starting point of the İzmir-Aydın railway line and the suburban line to Buca. Formerly known as Punta Terminal, Alsancak Terminal was built to serve not only as a train station but also as a compound. It has the characteristics of British architecture. With its distinctive architecture, passenger lounge, ticket office, stained glass decorations, and platforms, the station is definitely worth seeing. It’s also one of the stops of the İZBAN metro line, which continues to Aliağa and Gaziemir.
Another important structure that makes Alsancak Terminal worth seeing is the clock tower in it. The first clock tower of İzmir, which was added to the building in 1890, is famous for its stonework.
The terminal located in Basmane, one of the historical districts of İzmir, is still functional. Basmane Terminal was built as the starting point of the İzmir-Kasaba (Turgutlu) railway line and opened in 1866. The terminal is famous for the 19th-century ironwork that makes up its steep roof and large cantilever.
For railroad enthusiasts, Basmane Terminal is also a must-see just like the Alsancak Terminal. The Fevzi Pasha Boulevard, which was planned to be opened to transfer export goods to the docks and customs, gives the structure a memorial feel. The structure is especially magnificent when it is lit up at night.
The Borsa Palace, located on Konak’s Gazi Boulevard, which is in between Cumhuriyet Boulevard and Şehit Fethi Bey Street, was built between 1926 and 1928. The building was constructed by Mr. Tahsin Sermet, who also constructed the İzmir National Library and the National Cinema buildings.
The building stands out as one of the most important examples of the “First National Architecture Movement’ in İzmir.
In its earlier years, besides agricultural and industrial trades, there was also stock exchange made in this building. Now, in modern days, stock market rules are followed in the palace which has become one of Turkey’s most important trade centers for products like cotton, figs, grapes, etc.
First Bullet Monument of the Journalist Hasan Tahsin
The Hasan Tahsin Monument was built in the memory of Osman Nevres, also known as Hasan Tahsin, who shot the first bullet towards invading soldiers and martyred by them on May 15, 1919. The monument is located in Konak Square, just like the Clock Tower, the symbol of the city.
The monument, which was had built by İzmir Journalists Association and opened in 1974 by President Fahri Koruturk, is accepted as a symbol of resistance to Greek occupation.
The Gazi Statue in Cumhuriyet Square is one of İzmir’s iconic monuments. It is a monument built to express the people of İzmir’s gratitude towards Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of the modern Turkish Republic. It’s the symbol of the Turkish War of Independence, and also of İzmir. The architect of this statue is the renowned Italian sculptor Pietro Canonica.
The statue emphasizes Mustafa Kemal Atatürk’s phrase during the Great Offensive: “Armies, your first goal is the Mediterranean. Forward!” while pointing towards the Mediterranean. On three sides of the base are bronze embosses themed “The War of Independence and Victory”.
Konak Pier (The Customs Office)
Konak Pier, also known as the Customs Office, is one of the defiant structures of İzmir. It has survived from the 19th century to the present day and is located in Konak. The building, which was built as an old French customs office, served for different purposes such as the fish market for a while during the Republican period and later for parking, now serves as a shopping center with shops and restaurants.
This building, made with steel construction supplies, which were very important in 19th Century architecture, was turned into a modern shopping center in 2002.
You can spend a pleasant day at Konak Pier, which has a cinema and shops and restaurants.
National Library – National Cinema (İzmir Opera and Ballet House)
The National Library in Konak, one of the most important libraries in Turkey, and the National Cinema which is integrated with it are amongst the most important historical values of İzmir.
The National Library, established in 1912, and the National Cinema, established in 1926 to provide financial support to the library, are among the most beautiful examples of the “First National Architecture Movement’ in İzmir. The library building, which has reached its present appearance in 1933 with the completion of its construction and the National Cinema, also known as “Elhamra Cinema”, are pioneers of the Neo-classical Turkish Architecture.
Youth Campus (Historical Gas Plant)
Formerly known as The Historical Gas Plant, the Youth Campus is located in Konak. It was built by the company Laidloux and Sons located in Glasgow in 1862 and started production in 1867. The production in the plant ended in 1955. Although not all of its structures have survived, the Historical Gas Plant is an important value of the city in terms of the industrial heritage.
The plant was restored by the İzmir Metropolitan Municipality in 2007 to serve as a cultural and art center. Today, the restaurant and the cafe in the building welcome guests in a calm and peaceful environment. The reading hall, workshops, outdoor movie screenings, and concerts in the center are very popular.