x0x Old trade center an inn for shopping
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x0x Old trade center an inn for shopping
History lies in the center of Izmir, considered as
the pearl of the Aegean region. KemeraltI, a
trading center for Turkey in past times, is now a
shopping center that maintains its old world charm
IZMIR Turkish Daily News
Izmir, located on the Aegean coast, is known as
the pearl of the region. It is not as complicated
and crowded as Istanbul and not as calm as Ankara.
It is Turkey's third largest city and maybe one of
its most modern.
Although under renovation and slowly gaining a new
face, Izmir has many historic sites that one can
KemeraltI is the most popular one and it is right
in the city center. The district, which covers a
vast area extending from the level of the Agora of
Izmir to the seashore along the Konak Square, is
like a huge bazaar that has stood tall since the
17th century. It was originally established around
the streets surrounding the inner bay, which was
filled between 1650-1670.
The old fashioned shopping district, one of the
liveliest parts of the city, has narrow streets
that head from Konak to Alsancak. The wide curved
street known as Anafartalar Street used to be the
Street of Mevlevis.
Here you can find fascinating antiques, jewelers,
drapers, shoemakers, and shops specializing in all
kinds of goods from leather to olives and cheeses,
a great variety of clothing, and the dried figs
and sultanas for which Izmir is famous.
The atmosphere in the area is still enchanting;
although it is like the mixture of the old and new
it still looks historic. The architecture is worth
experiencing. The oldest building in KemeraltI is
the Hisar Mosque, built by Yakup Bey in 1592. It
is a significant Ottoman landmark in Izmir.
Hisar means fortress and it makes a reference to a
Genoese castle, which used to stand on the same
location as the mosque. The castle was called San
Pietro. The last remains of the castle were taken
away during the construction of the new port
between 1867 and 1876. It is roofed by a large
dome resting on eight piers, and is noted for the
decoration on the altar niche and pulpit.
The other mosques in Izmir are Salepcioglu (20th
century), $adIrvan (17th century with 19th-century
restorations) and KemeraltI (17th century). All
are situated close to the KemeraltI.
The nucleus of the KemeraltI market is considered
to be KIzlaragasI HanI (KIzlaragasI Caravanseria),
the first step taken for gaining ground from the
It was built in 1741 by HacI Be$ir Aga, next to
Hisar Mosque. The Bedesten, now 200 meters away
from the bay, is a triangle-shaped two-story
building. In the past it had a small pool in its
courtyard. On its upper floor the inn used to have
rooms for the merchants to sleep overnight and
their camels used to stay in the courtyard. Around
the courtyard, where there are cafes today, there
used to be rooms for the servants. The whole
structure is 4,000-meters square and the courtyard
is 600-meters square.
KemeraltI was an important trading point for the
city until transportation developed and new trade
routes opened. It has even served as a local stock
exchange. After the 19th century the Inn was
mainly used for storage of goods instead of a
During construction two older inns were included.
They were the "Great Vezir Han" constructed by the
17th century grand vizier, Koprulu FazIl Ahmed
Pasha, and "Little Vezir Han" built by his
successor, Merzifonlu Kara Mustafa Pasha.
Most of the inns were destroyed after the Great
Fire of Smyrna in 1922 and others were demolished
Havra Street in KemeraltI has many old buildings
and synagogues. KIzlaragasI HanI is built of
stone and it has a small mosque in the center.
Today the inn is being used as a shopping mall and
it has two gates; one of the gates opens from the
east and the other from the west. There are 73
rooms on the second floor of the inn. After it was
restored in 1993, it became a popular tourist spot
and was converted into a handicrafts sales center.
It has many antique, leather, book and jewelry
stores as well as restaurants and cafes. But they
all look authentic and they don't destroy the
aesthetic or the atmosphere of the place.
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