The Ancient Smyrna Settlement at Tepekule

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. 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 ruins of old Smyrna are located at Tepekule in the Bayraklı district. The site is reached by taking the metro and changing to the İZBAN train at Halkapınar. From there, go to Bayraklı. Walk away from the sea through the modern pedestrian street in Bayraklı until you reach the end. Then turn right and you will see the entrance to the archaeological site. It doesn’t look very inviting, with a “Beware of Dog” sign posted clearly on the gate, but if the gate is open just walk in. There was nobody there to stop me and no admission. I had the entire site to myself, minus, of course, the dogs I was supposed to beware.

Welcome? at Tepekule in Izmir, Turkey


What’s there? Not much. A lot of foundations can be seen but the site was well-marked. You have to use your imagination for most of it.

Tepekule in Izmir, Turkey


Tepekule in Izmir, Turkey


The highlight of the site was a crappy reconstruction with a few columns of the Temple of Athena. I was also able to find the foundation of the Megaron and an altar.

Temple of Athena at Tepekule in Izmir, Turkey

Temple of Athena

Megaron at Tepekule in Izmir, Turkey


Altar at Tepekule in Izmir, Turkey


The rest of the site contained mud brick fortification walls, a fountain, the tholos, a well, a latrine, a necropolis, and a wharf.

Mud brick fortification wall at Tepekule in Izmir, Turkey

Mud brick fortification wall

Fountain at Tepekule in Izmir, Turkey


Necropolis at Tepekule in Izmir, Turkey


Wharf at Tepekule in Izmir, Turkey


At the entrance, there’s a bust of Dr. Ekrem Akurgal, the archaeologist who excavated the site.

Bust of Dr. Ekrem Akurgal at Tepekule in Izmir, Turkey

Bust of Dr. Ekrem Akurgal

Unless you are really interested in stuff like this (like me!), it’s too far out of the way and not very impressive. Skip it.

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