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İzmir

The third most important city in Turkey. Izmir is a major port and resort centre enjoying both Aegean and Mediterranean influences in its enviable position on the country’s eastern coast.

With an incredible 5,000 year history – due in no small part to the strategic location of its natural harbour – Izmir is also among Turkey’s most culturally blessed locations. The city has been inhabited in turn by the Greek, Roman and Byzantine civilisations, each of which left their mark in the form of the many incredible archaeological sites and remains in the area.

A day out in Izmir to see the many sights is probably best enjoyed on foot, with an easy to follow walk around the city centre, the Konak Meydani square and the waterfront Kordon district.

Izmir has plenty to offer for families on a holiday outing, with lots of attractions and activities available for kids to enjoy in the Culture Park (Kultur Park Alani). There’s also the city zoo and ‘Bird Paradise’ in the Cigli area, not to mention some truly exceptional beaches on the outskirts of the city.

For some really impressive views of the mountain ranges surrounding the city, take a ride up on the beautifully restored Asansor elevator, now a city landmark with a lovely restaurant at the top, or alternatively try the popular Teleferik cable car in the Balcova district, for amazing views across the bay and an entire street filled with cafés and bars at the 1000m summit.

In 1922, a fire across the city was responsible for the loss of a number of Izmir’s fine historic buildings. However, many important examples remain to be enjoyed, including the Saat Kulesi – an unusually ornate clock tower built in Ottoman style – the Kadifekale Castle, on its elevated hilltop location, and a plethora of Turkish mosques lending yet more character to the city’s already varied skyline.

However, the greatest of all historical sites in Izmir is the awesome Agora of Smyrna, an expansive Roman marketplace which, with its enormous stone colonnades still standing in their original location, is a holiday ‘must see’.

As in most large Turkish towns and cities, shopping is a way of life in Izmir. The modern centre is home to shops and malls filled with familiar designer brands and labels while, perhaps more appealing to tourists, there are several fascinating and historical bazaars where ‘haggling’ for the best price is what every Turkish market trader expects – and it’s also a lot of fun!

For those with an interest in art and culture, there’s a good choice of very impressive museums and galleries on offer. Specialist museums are dedicated to the city’s archaeology, ethnography and commercial history, while the Ataturk Museum serves to commemorate the official founder of Turkey – Mustafa Kemal Ataturk – and showcases his life and work, featuring many of his personal effects. For a taste of the area’s artistic history, head for the Culture Park, where you will find both the Museum of Art and History and the Museum of Arts and Sculpture, with a superb collection of paintings, ceramics and sculptures by noted Turkish artists.

Izmir is about 120km from CLC Kusadasi Golf & Spa resort – maybe a 90-minute drive – or you can arrange via Reception to join one of the many daily coach excursions to the city and relax while you enjoy the wonderful Turkish countryside and scenery en route.

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