The Alsancak area of İzmir is the central commercial district with the trendiest bars and restaurants, tallest buildings, and major hotels. It was known as Pounta (Πούντα) in Greek and was traditionally the home of the upper middle class during Ottoman times. Other than the Kordon esplanade, there are are a few interesting things to find in the neighborhood.
Kıbrıs Şehitler Caddesi is the main street through Alsancak. It’s a pedestrian street with lots of restaurants and shops. There are numerous little side streets and alleys that intersect with Kıbrıs Şehitler Caddesi. Many of these streets are packed with outdoor cafes and bars and are full of life at night. It’s a great place to sit and unwind.
A few Ottoman homes, some restored and some crumbling, make up the buildings on the side streets. It’s nice to pay attention to the details on some of them.
Also on one of the little streets is the Santissimo Rosario Catholic Church, an Italian church.
I found a few other churches in the southern part of Alsancak near the major hotels. One of them is the oldest church in the city, St. Polycarpe Catholic Church, built in 1620.
Nearby is the Santa Maria Catholic Church. I was able to pop inside. It was a beautiful church, and I met the Italian priest and the German caretaker and chatted with them for a few minutes. Services are done in Italian.
There’s one small Greek Orthodox church that stands in the area, Agia Fotini. It was a gift from the Dutch community after all of the Greek churches in the city burned or were destroyed after 1922, except one – Agios Voukolos in the Basmane area. Agios Voukolos was restored in 2012 and opened as a cultural center. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to visit either church.