Agora of İzmir or less known as Agora of Smyrna is an ancient Roman agora located in modern-day İzmir, Turkey. It is an archeological site with an interesting history that anyone would love to see in real-time. İzmir Agora is not just a historical site, though. With the way it is placed, right between the hillsides of İzmir and the Kemerati streets, you feel like the time has stopped for you to walk around these ruins and stroll through nature. (Photo by F Mira via Flickr)
A Short History about the Izmir Agora
An Agora used to be a public space, or better said, a marketplace in the center of Ancient Greek cities where people and merchants gathered around and spent time together. Izmir Agora was also made during the Greek ruling of Anatolia (Modern-day Turkey) during the Hellenistic period in the 4th century BC.
It used to be called the agora of Smyrna, the ancient name for the city-state of İzmir. The Agora of Smyrna was destroyed after an earthquake shook the city in AD 178, but it was rebuilt by the order of Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius. The site has stood the test of time, and the skill it took to rebuild it is perfectly showcased by the water channels that still operate even after hundreds of years.
How to Travel to Izmir Agora
Traveling To Turkey
Depending on your own location, you have different options to travel to Turkey. It is possible to travel to this country via riding on a plane or train, making a road trip with your car, or even riding a boat or a cruise ship.
Traveling To İzmir
The weather in İzmir is quite like other Mediterranean cities. It is hot and humid in the summer and rainy and windy in the colder seasons. You can reach İzmir by plane, bus, car, or train. You can either start your journey in Istanbul or Ankara and travel to İzmir for a few days or fly straight to İzmir from overseas. You also can use a car or bus, but that means that you have to rely on a ferry ride. Fortunately, the train ride doesn’t have this issue, and you can get to the city just by getting off a station out of town and using the city’s subway to get to the inner city.
Getting to Izmir Agora
One of the greatest things about İzmir and Turkey, in general, is the metro and train system. For visiting Izmir Agora, it is enough to get off at the Çankaya metro station and take a taxi or even walk until you reach the agora. It has a very straightforward address and is easy to find.
Ticket and Working Hours
It only costs around 12 Turkish Lira per person to visit the Izmir Agora from 8:30 A.M. to 5:30 P.M. every day.
What to Expect from Izmir Agora
The place that used to be the marketplace of Symra is now an open-air museum and a history park. It takes at least two hours to enjoy the site thoroughly. Depending on the visiting time, some parts of the site might be closed to the public because of ongoing restorations. However, the rest of the Izmir Agora is so beautiful that it doesn’t matter.
When you first walk into the site, you might notice the Gate of Faustina; it is a reconstructed part of the agora made to honor the financial generosity of Empress Faustina. Then your eyes might catch the Corinthian colonnades; they are grand columns that show the true abilities of the ancient architects.
Next, you’ll enter the old basilica and walk right on the floor that people from hundreds of years ago walked on, but the gem of the whole site might be the chambers and cisterns located in the basement of the basilicas. The agora was used until the Byzantine period. There is also a Muslim cemetery made by the Ottomans on the agora; many of the old tombstones still exist.
The good shape of the Izmir Agora helps the tourists to imagine what the site looked like in its heydays.
Where to Stay Near Izmir Agora
There are many good neighborhoods in İzmir, but the nearest place to all the great sites and Izmir Agora is the Konak neighborhood, but you can try Alsancak if you want a smaller and cheaper place to witness the authentic lives of residents of İzmir, or you can try Karsiyaka for a more luxurious and vibrant experience with wild nights and a great view.
Other Attractions Near Izmir Agora
It might take your time visiting Izmir Agora. We strongly recommend you arrange an efficient plan for your day to enhance your time. Here we made a shortlist of the other places you can see near Izmir Agora.
Shop at the Kemeralti Bazaar
Dating back to the 16th century, Kemeralti Bazaar is home to lots of authentic Turkish goods like carpets, tea sets, and lovely clothes. The area is also an important pilgrimage destination for the Jews because of notable Jewish landmarks that you can’t see in other parts of Turkey.
Visit the Archeological Museum
If you enjoyed what you saw at the agora of İzmir, you’re going to love the archeological museum. Many artifacts were taken from the open-air museum and placed in the archeological museum to be more protected. The museum also has statues, tools, and many things from the Greek and Roman era, as well as the Bronze age.
Visit the Ethnography Museum
If you still haven’t had enough museums, then I’ll suggest you visit the ethnography museum of İzmir. It is in the same area as the archeological museum and showcases a great range of cultural objects and artifacts from Aegean and Seljuk people in a lovely hospital building dating back to the 18th century. Not to mention that entering this museum is free.
Visit the Museum of Contemporary Art
If there is one thing İzmir isn’t short of, it’s the amazing museums. After spending a lot of time studying the ancient cities and artifacts of Old Anatolia, it’d be great to get up to date with their modern art and culture.
Go for a Cable ride.
If you are an adrenaline junkie, you’ll probably enjoy the Balçova cable car rides. They are similar to ski lifts but go way higher. It takes 10 minutes to go up from the city’s economy university, and the view is immaculate.
Visit the Clock Tower
Around the same area of Konak square, there is a giant Clock Tower made in the 20th century in the style of the Ottoman architecture of the 14th and 15th centuries. Over the years, the Clock Tower has become the ultimate place for tourist photos and local gatherings.
No matter if you get to Izmir Agora by choice or out of boredom, it is a great place for spending quality time in an ancient site next to the untouched nature of İzmir. We hope that you found this guide helpful, and happy traveling!