The Historical Port City of Izmir

摘要: Description  Located at the edge of a wide and sheltered gulf, İzmir connects to a rich hinterland extending north, east and south through a series of rivers and valleys. İzmir's geographical position


  Located at the edge of a wide and sheltered gulf, İzmir connects to a rich hinterland extending north, east and south through a series of rivers and valleys. İzmir's geographical position is surrounded by Madra Mountains and Balıkesir provincial border to the north, Kuşadası Gulf and Aydın provincial border to the south, Çeşme Peninsula and the Gulf of İzmir, which derives its name from the city itself, to the west, and Manisa provincial border to the east. The city of İzmir is nourished by the flow of the rivers Gediz, one of the major rivers of the Aegean Region, Küçük Menderes, and Bakırçay.

  The Historical Port City of İzmir is surrounded by Karataş and Göztepe to the west, Alsancak to the east, Tepecik to the south and the Gulf of İzmir to the north, and encompasses the Kemeraltı, Basmane and Kadifekale regions.

  Founded between the Pagos Hill (Kadifekale) and the inner port around the late 4th Century - early 3rd Century B.C. in the post-Alexander era and having remained a continuous settlement site to date, İzmir (Smyrna) still bears the traces of the Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine, Principalities [Beylik] and Ottoman periods.

  Archaeological excavations in İzmir, which was a well-known "Port City" of the Euro-Asian "Silk Road" that offered a trade portal to the Mediterranean during the Classical Era as well, continues at the center of the city, with a population of 4.5 million, under the support of the community, the local and central authorities, and the chambers of industry - commerce. The artifacts unearthed in the excavations provide rich findings on how the city was founded as a port and how it operated. With its 4-storeyed structure including the basement and civil Basilica that is home to a rich wall engravings (graffiti) collection, the Smyrna Agora counts as one of the most important archeological sites in the world. These graffiti offer further evidence on how connecting with the long-distance caravan routes of the Mediterranean basin. Some three thousand graffiti offer insight into all aspects of the daily life in the Roman Period, and feature important narrations on the rich cultural environment of commerce and the port. Furthermore, the mint, which is an indication of the fact that the city was a major commercial hub, was founded in 287 B.C., and coin issuance continued until 3rd Century A.D.

  Kadifekale, the Acropolis of Smyrna, is also a rare architectural example bearing the layers of the Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine, Principalities and Ottoman periods. Constructed in different periods using different architectural plans, the castle's towers offers both an insight into tower planning choices of their respective periods, and an understanding on to what extent the defensive strategies of the Ancient Era were pursued during the said periods. There are two waterways underneath the modern buildings surrounding the Smyrna Agora that still carry out their task of conducting water. The water system comprising of these waterways is known to have been in use starting in the Roman Period, well into the Byzantine and Ottoman periods. Remarkably, one of the waterways was used as a prayer house in the 19th century.

  Smyrna derived its wealth from the incomes generated from fertile agricultural fields that provided a wide variety and surplus of products, as well as the exportation of its own products and the goods coming from other cities of the province from the city's port to the entire Mediterranean geography. The city also played an important role in the transfer of goods from the East and the West to other regions.

  Since the Port City is a vital gateway connecting the Middle Eastern Basin with Europe, it was visited by two chief apostles, St. Paulus and St. John, who strove to spread Christianity far from the Levant, its birthplace, among the Greco-Roman world, and it was also home to one of St. John's seven churches. With all these features, the Port City reflects the various stages of the centuries-long progress, while also housing valuable urban archaeological sites.

  In the post-classical era, successive earthquakes, and later the Muslim invasions in the 7th-8th centuries and the Eastern Roman Empire being unable to ensure the secure environment necessary for long-distance trade severely impaired the connection of the İzmir Port with its hinterland. Its significance for the Orthodox Christian belief and the advantages of being a sheltered natural port, however, led to an increase in the commercial activity in İzmir beginning with the 10th century. The port, which had become an important city and naval base of the Byzantine Empire in the 11th century, was later established also as the base and shipyard of the naval state founded by the Turkish Commander Chaka Bey (Çakabey), who took control of the region only 10 years after the 1071 Battle of Malazgirt [Manzikert].

  In the wake of this short-lived naval state, İzmir continued to serve as a Byzantine port, and by the first half of the 13th Century, it gained further significance with the foundation of the Nicene-Byzantine State as a result of the 4th Crusade. After this period, it became one of the operation ports of the Genoese “naval trade empire”. At the beginning of the 14th Century, the Turkish Principality of Aydın seized the Kadifekale region, while the Port region was still under Genoese rule. With the bustling commercial activity in the Port region during this period, the port vicinity grew in importance, which attracted diverse ethnic groups engaged in commerce to the region.

  When it fully came under the Ottoman rule in the 15th Century, İzmir had the appearance of a small town, where its source of commercial function was the port itself; beginning with the second half of the 16th Century, however, the shifting balance in the Mediterranean trade and the trade routes transporting the Eastern goods being redirected to İzmir led to the city becoming a major trade destination.

  During this period, Kadifekale, the residential center of the Ancient Era located atop the first hill to the east of the Port, became a prominent housing zone, while the commercial life in İzmir would revolve around the port. The commercial and port activity in the period, which saw an increase with the trade privileges granted to the French and the British under Ottoman rule, were further boosted with the addition of new merchants from the Netherlands and Austria. In the early 17th Century, the European countries moved their consulates from Chios to İzmir, which attracted Armenian settlers from Anatolia, Greek settlers from Chios and other Aegean isles, Jewish settlers from across the Ottoman lands, the Iberian Peninsula, Italy and other Christian regions, along with many the Dutch, British, French and Venetian settlers, and this, in turn, brought greater diversity to the commercial relations and an enriched cosmopolitan structure to the city in the 17th Century. 

  During the 17th and 18th centuries, “the Little Ice Age” increased the agricultural needs of the European countries, and with a favorable climate, soil and rich crop variety, the Asia Minor, that is, İzmir's hinterland, was one of the regions in the world that was specialized in agricultural production. With its diverse agricultural product range such as figs, fruits, vegetables, grains and major industrial products such as grape, cotton, olive and tobacco, along with various products (silk in particular) coming via transit trade from its hinterland stretching as far as Iran and India, the cosmopolitan port city of İzmir had become the shining star of the Levant region, where the Ottoman Empire took part in the global economy. During this period, where it developed as the port of the Levant Region thanks to its geographical and physical features, İzmir, unlike other Ottoman cities of the period, took shape in strict adherence to its trade and port functions.

  The port, which brought together the Western European trade represented by the consuls and trade representatives from Amsterdam, London, Marseilles and Venice and the “Eastern” Silk Road trade represented by the non-Muslim and Muslim Ottoman tradesmen from Isfahan, Iran, Aleppo and Bursa, “morphed from a small-town into an urban center”, reflecting this dual form of the trade onto physical spaces as well. On one hand, new quarters emerged that were predominated by merchant houses and commercial venues of the Levantine merchants used for purposes such as insurance, customs clearance, commissioning, consulate, storage, and shops; on the other hand, new inns, bedestans [covered bazaars], arastas[a collection of various shops], and shopping centers were constructed, which provided accommodation, customs, storage, workshop, and animal care services to meet the needs of long-distance caravans. In that sense, the city increasingly became home to buildings that emerged with the diversification of the sub-functions fully integrated into its main port function, thus turning into the convergence point of the East and the West, the far and the near.

  By the 17th century, galleons replaced the much smaller galleys, which led to inner ports that had been in use since the Antiquity to lose their functionality, and this traditional trade center “irregularly” expanded into the commercial site that was reclaimed by the embankment of the port. Despite the irregular urban expansion, commercial activities became organized and established in the traditional forms peculiar to the East in accordance with the product type, line of business and the profession expert. Thus, the trade continued to be carried out under the “Guild” control based on the “Craftsmen-Ahi System”. While commercial and production activities were contained within small shops, inns, bedestens and marketplaces, the streets were designed as special places that offered direct participation in the shopping activity. Today, this commercial area is called “Kemeraltı”. “Anafartalar Avenue”, which once served as the dock part of the inner port and an inner city trade route taken by the long-distance caravans, was the heart of the commercial life in the Ottoman Period.

  With the Ottoman Empire embarking on a quest for centralized modernization in the 19th Century on one hand, and the impact of the know-how accumulated by the European capitalism and the innovations in industrialization in the second half of the 19th Century on the other, the city, which had always shaped around the port functions, would enter into another process of change. By the second half of the 19th Century, İzmir was now connected to the Anatolian interior not through caravans, but the railways built between İzmir-Aydın and İzmir-Kasaba, and with the construction of a dock, a dramatic transformation took place in the utilization of the coastline. The 3.5-kilometer-long modern customs house and dock built along the old coast became operational in 1880, and from this date forward, steamboats became the instruments of the maritime trade in the port.

  This commercial complex, which was designed for long-distance caravans in the 17th-18th centuries, saw the addition of business quarters and hotels during the 19th Century, and with the changes in the manner of how trade was conducted, accommodation, customs, storage and production buildings began to have their own separate venues. Inns were now built along with storehouses or commercial offices with passageways. Accommodation function no longer belonged to inns, and hotels were built for the same function instead, while different types of inns emerged for commercial and storage activities. The storage inns, which are formed by covering a large area with a roof, emerged again during this era. All of these changes also resulted in a shift at a minimalist scale in the marketplace structure, where inns were set up that combine different functions in the most optimal way.

  In that sense, İzmir stands as a unique example, where one can observe both the early, caravan-based development process of the traditional commercial center structure that was commonplace across the entire Central Asia and Ottoman lands and the transformation of these centers with the onset of industrialization in the 19th Century.

  These unique and remarkable changes and reproductions taking place in commercial and port sites also led to distinct and notable changes in the socio-economic and political structure of the port city. In 1851, the Provincial Center was relocated from Aydın to İzmir, and in 1868, the Municipality of İzmir was established as the local administration. New government offices were built and modern educational institutions were opened for the newly organizing bureaucracy. One can learn about the history of the Ottoman modernization by observing the bureaucratic structuring of the 19th Century in the area right next to the center of İzmir's commercial fabric, which is today called "Konak Atatürk Square". The rich architectural heritage, including Sarı Kışla [the Yellow Barracks], the Provincial Hall, the plaza arrangement, İzmir Maktab Al-Idadi/Sultani [İzmir High School], Konak Mosque, large warehouse structures necessitated by the new port functions, the ferry terminal built in 1884 by Hamidiye Ferry Company on the coastal side of the square, and the Clock Tower erected in 1901 in honor of the 25th anniversary of Abdulhamid II's ascension to the throne, makes " Konak Atatürk Square " an important landmark in terms of modernization. 19th Century was also marked by the inclusion of the telegraph lines into the communication infrastructure, thus new financial offices, banks, post offices and insurance companies, with their rich and distinct architectural styles, also took their place in İzmir's heritage.

  The Millet System, which was implemented by the Ottoman with the aim to organize a religiously diverse society, granted a certain degree of autonomy to Christian and Jewish communities, and by extension, the system's response to the emerging nation states, which undermined the "hegemony of empires", ensured considerable legal and religious freedoms for the non-Muslims residing in İzmir and the other parts of the Empire. The Ottoman Millet System, which allowed the Empire to divide into peacefully coexisting ethnic-religious communities, also ensured a plenty of elbowroom for the commercial efforts of the non-Muslims. Thus, by the late 19th Century, and also encouraged by the property rights conferred to non-Muslims in 1856, new neighborhoods emerged, comprising of manor- and mansion-like residences owned by the non-Muslims and, of course, by merchants who had settled in the city. In addition to the Muslim, Greek, Armenian, Jewish and Levantine neighborhoods, the city was also home to British, French, Italian, Austrian and American immigrant communities. The books, magazines and newspapers published by numerous printing houses in various languages turned İzmir into a publishing center of the world. Thus, İzmir became one of the world's most well-known cultural and commercial hubs. The cosmopolitan city not only granted a living space for diverse ethnic and religious groups; it was home to their churches, synagogues, mosques and sanctuaries as well.  Impressions from all different cultural groups residing in İzmir can be observed both inside the commercial center and these religious buildings extending into the residential areas. The Jewish communities from Salonika, Istanbul, Anatolia and various other geographies built distinct synagogues according to their origin of migration, while the Orthodox Christians, Catholics and Protestants likewise built their own religious buildings in styles peculiar to where they had come from. Thus, a commercial and cultural hub emerged, where diverse cultures and religions spatially intertwined in a confined area.

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