Between laughter and joy, Buğra gives us the first surprise emptying his backpack and taking out some small glasses and a bottle containing a hot liquid that is still steaming when our friend finally opens it. According to him, there is no better way to welcome us to the country than enjoying the traditional Turkish tea, one of the symbols of the Turkish hospitality par excellence. There, in the park, Buğra serves the reddish drink to acclimate his words about the history and highlights of his city.
It is said that Izmir could be founded around the year 3000. C. to become in the coming centuries, a land colonized by Leleges, Hittites, Ionians and Aeolians. While Turkey is primarily a Muslim country, the Christian advance in their runaway from Jerusalem, had in these lands their first stops and even stays. Thus, within the city walls was martyred St. Polycarp of Smyrna and outside the territory there are some important sites to Christianity, such as Ephesus, where it is said that the first church in honor of the Virgin Mary arose places. Furthermore, Izmir is one of the seven cities that appear in Revelation of the Apocalypse. Currently, the Aegean Pearl is considered one of the most 'westernized' cities of Turkey with its struggle for gender equality and its openness to a modern way of life.
And now, with the intense flavor of Turkish coffee, we can calmly discover the corners of the beautiful city of Izmir. Continuing the Maritime Walk, different squares, hotels and streets full of restaurants with Turkish and international cuisine enjoy the best views of the sea and the ships that come and go. From the Walk, a small bridge on the road leads to a crowded tree-lined street. This is the Cumhuriyet Boulevard, the road that leads directly to Izmir's most famous square, Plaza Konak. On its side, the small Mosque Konak offers a beautiful image thanks to ceramics of different colors with which it is decorated. However, what is most striking about the place is the impressive building that occupies the center of the square and rises with Arab ornamentation to become the famous Clock Tower. With its 25 meter high this tower is the symbol of Izmir, becoming a meeting point and pride of all inhabitants. Designed by French architect Raymond Charles Père, is one of the last examples of Ottoman art and was built in 1901 to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the ascension to the throne of Abdülhamid II, king from 1879-1909.
Continuing through the Mustafa Kemal Sahil Boulevard with the sea on our right, we come to a street that to us seems different and very, very special. We are in the neighborhood and Karatas, between avenues and roads of Turkish names, suddenly appears before us the Dario Moreno Street, which also contains several buildings of different color and charm in its different craft shops and traditional restaurants. Darío Moreno was a singer and actor, his father was Turkish and his mother was Mexican, during the fifties and sixties he played different roles in francophone countries films and also became a successful singer with Latin American rhythms. A statue of this character welcomes this narrow street, which in also culminates in another tourist place of the city, the lift or Asansör Izmir. It is a historic building built in 1907 by the Jewish banker Levi Nesim Bayraklıoğlu so that locals could get around the very large slope that separated the houses in the neighborhood. Today, the elevator is still used for the same purpose, although it has already become a more attractive city, counting on its top with a famous restaurant, of course, offering wonderful views over the rooftops of the city interspersed by spiers of mosques.
From Konak Square, following the street Anafartalar, our steps are routed directly to the Bazaar. In it and thanks to the just arrived visitors that came through cruises from all corners of the world, outfitters, spices, shoes and traditional utensils such as coffee grinders, besiege the walker in different languages in an attempt to lure it to their respective shops and huge market stalls. Although it is conformed by many streets and allies, almost all of them have indicating signals, so it is not too complicated for them to walk and shop. Thanks to Buğra, for us is easier to get out of there unscathed. At the end of the Bazaar is the Agora Museum of Izmir, which houses archaeological remains of different archaic periods, Greeks and Romans with a second part or patio associated with Alexander the Great.
At this point, our friend takes us through different narrow streets to a sort of small gazebo where the minarets of the mosques point to the sky and begin the adhan, the call to prayer. The sun's rays hitting the red and blue roofs, some white and green from a few temples and the sounds of pottery from its towers reach our ears forming a scene, which we believe is unique and exotic. To Buğra, however, is the normal diary course of a traditionally Muslim city.
Inside the ruins, important areas are multiplied. From the Temple of Artemis, one of the Seven Wonders of the World which is only one column, passing through the theater of Ephesus which once had capacity for 24,500 spectators, also the impressive Library of Celsus whose facade remains almost intact and the Church of San Juan where it is said that the apostle wrote his gospel. Continuing on the Christian side and according to the Catholic Church, this is the same apostle that accompanied Virgin Mary after the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, to the place that was to become her home during her last years of life. On the remains of this house a chapel was raised on a mountain that can be visited today near Ephesus. On the way back from the ruins there is a must stop in the charming mountain village of Sirince, known for its wine and its white houses adorned with vines and traditional crafts.