Smyrna Agora

İzmir was until 1930 known as Smyrna (Σμύρνη or Σμύρνα in Greek). That was the original name of the city settled by ancient Greeks later conquered by Alexander the Great, and followed by the Romans. It was also one of the seven churches in the Book of Revelation.

There were really two ancient Smyrnas – the old Smyrna and the new Smyrna. Old Smyrna was settled in the 11th century BC and is located at Tepekule. This guy named Alexander came along in the 4th century BC and conquered old Smyrna. Anyway, he was hunting up at the top of a nearby hill named Pagos (Πάγος) by the ancient Greeks and decided to take a nap under a plane tree. As he slept, he had a dream in which he was to found a great city built on the hill (now the site of Kadifekale). His dream was eventually carried out but only after his death. The settlement of old Smyrna was abandoned and the people relocated to the new site of the city. The new Smyrna is now underneath the modern city of İzmir, but the Smyrna Agora has been excavated and is open to the public. Admission is 10TL as of July 2016.

Smyrna Agora in Izmir, Turkey

Smyrna Agora

The agora was the center of life in ancient Smyrna. It was built in the Hellenistic period but destroyed in 178 by an earthquake. It was rebuilt shortly after under Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius. When I visited, a portion of it was off limits because of excavations being performed, but I was able to see the stoa and a Roman basilica.

This area was off limits at the Smyrna Agora in Izmir, Turkey

This area was off limits

Smyrna Agora in Izmir, Turkey

Smyrna Agora

Smyrna Agora in Izmir, Turkey

Smyrna Agora

Basilica at the Smyrna Agora in Izmir, Turkey

Basilica

Most impressive was the basement. It’s a “cryptoportico” – underground arches that support above-ground structures. The structure is also very photogenic.

Cryptoportico at the Smyrna Agora in Izmir, Turkey

Cryptoportico

Cryptoportico at the Smyrna Agora in Izmir, Turkey

Cryptoportico

Cryptoportico at the Smyrna Agora in Izmir, Turkey

Cryptoportico

Amazingly, water still flows through channels in the underground section.

Fountain at the Smyrna Agora in Izmir, Turkey

Fountain

Water flowing through channels at the Smyrna Agora in Izmir, Turkey

Water flowing through channels

On one end is a “graveyard” for items excavated at the site but not reconstructed. There are pieces of columns, several items with inscriptions in Greek, and sarcophagi from the Roman and Ottoman periods.

Column graveyard at the Smyrna Agora in Izmir, Turkey

Column graveyard

Column graveyard at the Smyrna Agora in Izmir, Turkey

Column graveyard

Inscription in Greek at the Smyrna Agora in Izmir, Turkey

Inscription in Greek

Ottoman graves at the Smyrna Agora in Izmir, Turkey

Ottoman graves

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