Ionian cities on Turkey's Aegean coast
Ionian cities on Turkey's Aegean coast
Thursday, February 7, 2008
Turkey is well known for its ancient settlements and historic sites.
Ancient Ionian cities are among some of the most popular options.
There are nearly 40 ancient cities in Turkey and three of them are
among the 12 Ionian cities
ISTANBUL - Turkish Daily News
Some of the best-known parts of Turkey among tourists are its
ancient settlements and historic sites with the cities of ancient
Ionia being among some of the most popular options.
Several excavations are currently underway around Turkey managed by
foreign or Turkish archaeologists. According to the Ministry of
Culture's Web site there are nearly 40 ancient cities in Turkey that
are being excavated or waiting for studies to reveal the rest of their
Three of these ancient cities belong to Ionian times and are all
located around İzmir, Turkey's third-biggest city located in the
western part of the country. The name of the region comes from the
Ionian tribe who occupied the shores and the islands of the Aegean Sea
in the archaic period, but which never became a unified state.
From Gediz to Maeander rivers
The region of the Ionians consisted of the coastal parts of Greece
that face Turkey and Turkey's coasts that face Greece. The northern
part started from the river Gediz, known as the Hermus River in
ancient times, included the islands Chios and Samos, and continued
until the river Maeander. İzmir was part of the region, which
stretched out as far as Athens. The Turkish part is between the İzmir
Gulf and Didim Gulf. Its limits were Aeolia to the north, Lydia to the
east and Caria to the south.
According to available records no state existed in the Late Bronze
Age in Anatolia, but on the discovered records of Hittites there is
some information about the Ionians.
Most of the cities were built around 1050 B.C. and were based on
agriculture. After 850 B.C., when migration from Egypt, Assyria and
the Hittites started, the society became more civilized.
The cities of Bergama, Ephesus, Priene, Miletos, Didyma, Sardis and
Aphrodisias are the most elegant examples of the great Ionian
architecture and city planning.
There are three ancient cities in the western parts of Turkey that
one can visit and get an idea of what life used to be like in ancient
Klazomenai is one of the 12 cities of Ionia and is located in Urla,
a district of İzmir. The name means showing the way to someone with a
prophecy and comes from the Hellenistic time. It is known as the
motherland of the famous philosopher Anaxagoras. The date of the
establishment of the city is not certain though it is believed that
the Kolophons established it. An independent city during the Roman
period, Klazomenai was known as an important trade center.
Kolophon and Notion were other major Ionian cities. Notion is
located 50 kilometers from İzmir and 15 kilometers from Kolophon,
which is known as Değirmendere today in Turkey. The city had a strong
navy and cavalry force, but it suffered many wars and was ruled by
Lydia, Persia and Macedonia at different times and for some periods
even by pirates. Kolophon was destroyed in 302 B.C. and its
neighboring city, Notion, known as Ahmetbeyli today, gained
importance. This city was famous for its Klaros Temple and an oracle.
Important ancient site
Ephesus, another of the 12 Ionian cities, is located in Selçuk,
which is a small town 30 kilometers away from Kuşadası district. The
city developed as a result of a union of Ionian immigrants with the
natives living near the temple of Kybele. Ephesus is now one of the
most important ancient sites of Turkey and is full of tourists all
year round. It was once the trade center of the ancient world and
became a religious center of early Christianity.
Moreover, the spectacular temple in honor of the Greek goddess
Artemis became famous as one of the Seven Wonders of the World.
Like the other Ionian cities, Ephesus was ruled in turn by Lydia,
Persia, Macedonia and lastly by the Roman Empire.
This city was one of the most important of the ancient world and was
given special attention by many Hellenistic kings. For example, it is
known that Lysimakhos renamed the city after his wife Arsinoe and that
the King of Pergamon Attalos II enlarged the port. Because the Romans
made Ephesus the capital of the Asian State, the city became one of
the biggest settlements in Anatolia. The location of the city is also
very close to three other unique places: The Basilica of St John, The
Temple of Artemision and the House of Virgin Mary.