Amongst the destinations, away from the most popular centres of Ankara and Istanbul, on the itineraries of tours in Turkey, the country’s ‘third city’ of İzmir is also well worth a visit, along with the province that surrounds it. On the western edge of Turkey, reaching out to the Aegean Sea, İzmir is a significant financial and trade centre, with a history as one of the most important and prosperous cities in the Ottoman, when it was known as Smyrna.
One of the first stops on Turkey tours to the area will be a visit to İzmir itself; there is plenty to entertain visitors to this fascinating city. With a recorded history dating back nearly 3,500 years, the city and surrounding area are steeped in the heritage of European civilisation, from Greek and Roman times right back to prehistory. Because of its location and multicultural make up over the years, İzmir has gained a reputation for being open to new ideas and fresh inspirations, giving it a different flavour to many other Turkish cities. Popular sites in İzmir include the ancient Angora, Kemeralti Bazaar, St. Polycarp Church and Konak Square at the centre of the historic city.
Another popular excursion for those on Turkey tours to the area is a trip to Ephesus – locally known as Efes, about an hour’s drive to the south. One of the largest cities in the Roman Empire, Ephesus is located three kilometres from Selçuk and is particularly popular with Biblical scholars and historians visiting the area. Ephesus was the site of the Temple of Artemis, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, of which only a column now stands, and that thanks to restoration. Today, there is an excellent small museum close to the site with finds from the city and surrounding area. In recent years, Ephesus has become an even more magnificent attraction following the opening of the ‘Slope Houses’. These have some of the most stunning Roman wall paintings and mosaics and are a real highlight of any Turkey tour.
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