A Day Full of History
There are many historical buildings that deserve to be seen in the center of İzmir. You can take a journey through time, exploring buildings that have witnessed the city's history for some more than a century. Check out our recommendations for a day of different experiences. If you want to know more about historical buildings, you can see the related pages.
See the city from a very different angle
Historical Elevator is the place to go if you’d like to see the most beautiful view of the city. 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 Paşa 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 Paşa Street and Halil Rıfat Paşa Street. The elevator tower consists of three floors. The elevator, which has remained intact to this day, is now electrically driven.
Take a picture of the Clock Tower, the symbol of the city
The Historical Clock Tower, one of the most well-known landmarks of İzmir, is at Konak Square. It was built in 1901 as a tribute to the 25th anniversary of the succession of the throne of Sultan Abdul Hamid II. On the tower, the four clocks on the external surfaces were donated by the German Emperor Wilhelm II. Having pigeons flying around all the time, the architect of the Historical Clock Tower, one of the city's landmarks with its elegant marble fountains, is M. Raymond Pere. One of the things that visitors of İzmir always do is to be photographed in front of the Clock Tower and to feed the birds flying around.
Greet the journalist Hasan Tahsin
The First Bullet Monument in Konak was built on behalf of the journalist Osman Nevres, also known as Hasan Tahsin, who shot the first bullet to the troops invading İzmir on May 15, 1919. İzmir Fellowship of Journalists asked the sculptor Turgut Pura to build the monument, located in front of the İzmir Metropolitan Municipality and opened it in 1974.
Visit the elegant Yalı Mosque
Yalı Mosque, a rare work of art located in the Konak Square, is also known as ''Konak Mosqueç’. The Mosque, which is a symbol of the square like the Clock Tower, was built in the 18th century inside a madrasa that was located in the same place. The Mosque remained at a lower level as the ground level was raised during the Konak Square arrangements. Therefore, you need to take three steps down to enter the building.
The building witnessing the city's history: the Government House
Today's Government House was built in place of the wooden Katipzade Mansion that was used as İzmir Governorship service building for many years. The region's name ''Konak'' is derived from this old mansion, since “Government House” means ''Hükümet Konağı'' in Turkish. Becoming ruined and inadequate over time, this building was demolished since İzmir's importance grew gradually and important government offices needed to be gathered under a single roof. At the same place, the new government building came into service in 1872. This building, which witnessed the most important historical developments in the city, such as the invasion of İzmir in 1919 and the war of independence in 1922, was destroyed completely due to a fire in 1970. In place of the destroyed building, today's building that is located at Konak Square was built, remaining true to the original one.
One of Turkey’s leading libraries: The National Library
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. The National Library, which was put into service during the 10th-anniversary celebrations of the foundation of the Turkish Republic, is a treasure for the students studying at least at the undergraduate level and the researchers.
Listen to the arias in the State Opera and Ballet
As you wend your way on the National Library Street, you can listen to the arias of the artists rehearsing in the State Opera and Ballet building if you have a chance. This building, which is located right next to the National Library and used as the State Opera and Ballet building today, was known as the Alhambra Theatre for many years. The theatre has been serving as the State Opera and Ballet building since 1982 and been the home of opera and ballet performances. It is operated by the National Library. In terms of its craftsmanship, the structure, just like the National Library, bears the traces of the 1st National Architecture Period.
Get lost in the streets of the Historical Kemeraltı Bazaar
The 500-year-old Historical Kemeraltı Bazaar, which starts at Konak Square, right next to the Government House, and contains Mezarlıkbaşı area and Anafartalar Street, is also known as the country's largest open-air market. With its inns, marble fountains, historical mosques, synagogues, shops offering crafts reflecting the soul of the city, restaurants serving flavors unique to İzmir and businesses providing you everything you need, Kemeraltı is the heart of the city.
Kemeraltı is also the destination to go if you’d like to see the historical inns of İzmir. There are many inns in the bazaar the most famous of which being Abacıoğulu Inn, Kızlarağası Inn, and Mirkelamoğlu Inn.
Apart from the inns, you will see historical mosques and marble fountains in the bazaar. Don’t forget to have coffee at the Kızlarağası Inn, visit the spice shops, see the crafts shops, discover the delicacies of Havra Street and have a lunch break at the artisan restaurants.
Explore the antique shops in Kızlarağası Inn
Kızlarğası Inn, located in Halim Ağa Bazaar in Kemeraltı, is one of the most popular inns in the city with its Ottoman-style architecture. It is thought to be built by Hacı Beşir Ağa in 1743. It was first used by the visiting merchants to leave their loads and spend the night. Now, there are stores that sell ceramic, wooden, and glass souvenirs, local crafts and fabric products, evil eye beads, silver jewelry, and gemstones. There are cafés in the garden where visitors can rest until late hours. On the upper floor, there are stores that sell antiques, silver, musical instruments, handcrafted products, and cafés.
Meeting with local flavors at Abacıoğlu Inn
Also located in the Historical Kemeraltı Bazaar, Abacıoğlu Inn is distinguished from its peers by its architecture and peaceful environment. The inn, which was estimated to be built by Hacı Mustafa Ağa at the beginning of the 18th century, was used as a covered wholesale food market for vegetables and fruits. Today, it stands out as one of the most important touristic destinations in İzmir. In the inn, besides workplaces, there are also cafés and a diner with İzmir and Bosnian food, a leather store, and a gift shop.
Explore the Old Izmir in Basmane Streets
Basmane is one of the oldest districts that still preserves its history. The neighborhood takes its name from a printing factory that was founded here in the first half of the 18th century. Today, the historical Basmane Railway Station is located in the factory area. In the neighborhood, you can see the Police Memory House that is turned into a museum, İzmir's oldest bay houses, historical mosques, prayer rooms, Altınpark excavation area, Agora Open Air Museum, Döbertaş Sebil, and Ayavukla Church. While walking the streets of Basmane, you will not be able to resist the smells of hot bread, simit, and semolina halva from the shops.
See the graffitis at Agora Open Air Museum
Located in the city center, Agora Open Air Museum is a part of İzmir's multicultural and multi-layered history. One of the large agoras located in the city center in the world, Agora is the only example with its three-layered structure. Agora, located at one of İzmir's oldest districts, Namazgah, was built as a multi-layered structure around a marbled courtyard, upon columns and arches. Agora, which means ''marketplace,'' was a state-owned area where political meetings and courts are held. Among the most important works excavated in Agora, Poseidon and Demeter statues can be seen at the Museum of History and Art. Located on the West Gate arch of Agora, the embossed portrait of Emperor Marcus Aurelius' wife Faustina, who was very fond of Izmir, is appealing.
Spin the Dönertaş Fountain
One of İzmir’s most famous wells is Dönertaş Well, located on the corner of Anafartalar Street and 945 Street. The well, which was built by Osmanzade Seyit İbrahim Rahmi in 1814, has a city view inside castle walls, a mosque, and two-storied houses around the mosque, engraved on it. There is a decorated circular marble column on the corner of the fountain, which it gets its name from. It is known that people who come to Hatuniye Mosque for prayer always spin this rock and spinning it with the right hand is said to bring good luck.
Go on a nostalgic trip to Basmane Terminal
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. The structure is especially magnificent when it is lit up at night.
Watch the city from Kadifekale
Kadifekale, which is located on a 186-meter-high hill, is one of the most beautiful places in İzmir since it allows you to see a very wide area including the Gulf, Karşıyaka, Agora, Kemeraltı Bazaar, the docks, Kültürpark and Basmane, and even İnciraltı! In the castle, you can see ruins from Roman, Byzantian, and Ottoman eras. There are small cafés in and around the castle where you can look at the view while you drink tea.
See the Yeşilova Mound, where İzmir was first founded
Yeşilova Mound, located in the middle of the Bornova Plain, deserves to be seen as the first place where civilization started. You can take a trip with the guidance of experts at the Yeşilova Mound, where the first settlement started 8,500 years ago. For such a trip you should call +90 232 999 29 29/5402 and register first.
Explore the Smyrna - Tepekule Ruins
Smyrna-Tepekule Mound, where Izmir was founded after Yeşilova Mound, is within the district of Bayraklı, At the mound located in Bayraklı, you can see the oldest house of the Western Anatolia, the Oval House, whose exact plan and history is known. The city is also famous for its fortified walls, multi-roomed and bathed houses, sacred structures, monumental fountain, and geometric city plan.
Attend the lawn concerts at the Historical Gas Plant
The Historical Gas Factory, located in Konak, which started production in 1867 and played an important role in the history of the city, today hosts concerts and movie screenings. The restaurant and cafe in the building welcome guests in a calm and peaceful environment. The outdoor movie screenings and lawn concerts held in the building in the evenings draw great interest.
Watch the sunset at Pasaport Pier
Pasaport, which can be defined as the starting point of Kordon, is one of the spots where you can enjoy watching the sunset in İzmir. Constructed in 1889, the structure was built to execute the passport checks, which carried out irregularly due to the ships anchoring in the open seas, by administrative activities via "Piers Management and Passport Control" buildings. This area has made its place in the city's memory by the name of Pasaport.
The passenger hall, which was built in 1926 and bears the traces of the First National Architecture Movement, constitutes the main structure of today's Pasaport Pier and is worth-seeing. If you'd like to take a break to enjoy the magnificent sunset during your city tour, Pasaport is the spot to go.
Get information at the Provincial Culture and Tourism Directorate Building
Located on Kordon in Konak, this historical building is a typical example of the masonry architecture of the late 19th-early 20th century in İzmir. The building was used as the Stock Exchange building between 1891 - 1919, and as a package post office in the Republican period. After the restoration in 1996, İzmir Provincial Directorate of Tourism came into service in the building. City visitors can stop by the directorate and get information and documents regarding Izmir.
Walk from the Gazi Statue to Kordon
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. After seeing this statue that salutes its visitors since 1932, you can walk towards Kordon and breathe in the refreshing smell of the sea.
Enjoy shopping at the historical Konak Pier
Built in 1888 and used as a fish market and parking lot in the Republican Period, this building is located in Gümrük district and is one of the most elegant shopping centers in the city. Inside Konak Pier, which was transformed into a shopping center in 2002, there are book stores, home decoration stores, jewelers and watchmakers, shoe and clothing shops, restaurants, a small art gallery, and movie theaters.