Jonathan Fryer

İzmir’s Waterfront

Posted by jonathanfryer on Friday, 24th July, 2009

IzmirIzmir is Turkey’s Manchester, only much more attractıve in parts. I can admit that happily, as a born-and-bred Mancunian who moved away to live in Brussels and then London. The common factors are that İzmir and Manchester are both their country’s third city in size, with a considerable industrial component. But İzmir has the advantage of a huge, gently-sweeping Corniche, the Kordon, which is lined with waterfront restaurants and cafes. These truly come into their own on summer evenıngs, when the weather is stinking hot, as it is now. Like Manchester, İzmir doesn’t get all that many tourists, whıch means that the winding alleys of the sizable bazaar are packed wıth locals buyıng cheap clothes and food, rather than visitors being inveigled into buying carpets and brasswear they don’t really want. One long stretch of the waterfront resembles Thessaloniki, whıch is not really surprising as İzmir formerly had more Greeks and other non-Turkısh inhabitants than Turks when it was still Smyrna, a name that conjures up so much. Just how much of the past is still perceivable is why İ am here, preparıng a travel article on the city, though the more İ get to know Turkey in general, the more it intrigues me.

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2 Responses to “İzmir’s Waterfront”

  1. Had a holiday there about 15 years ago. Great place. Is there still the “Izmir whiff” just outside the town on the coast road?

  2. Helen Elsom said

    One substantial difference from Manchester, I think, is the lack of almost any sense of architectural history — when I was there in the early 1980s it felt like a giant conference centre. But for me the setting of İzmir is so magical that the lack of physical history, and the associated historical horrors, don’t have to intrude.

    There is one amusing bit of real antiquity, though. Part of the reason I went to İzmir was because I was writing a thesis on Greco-Roman intellectual culture, and I was deeply impressed by Aelius Aristides’ Lament for Smyrna, a speech in which he expounds the cultural richness of the city to the emperor Hadrian in a covert plea for money to rebuild it after a massive earthquake. The one trace of the ancient city now is the Hadrianic stoa, apparently the sum total of Hadrian’s response to Aristides. It’s a ******* shopping mall.

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