Izmir is the second largest port after Istanbul was once the ancient city
of Smyrna, now a developed modern and busy commercial centre, set around a huge
bay and surrounded by mountains.
Known in Turkish as beautiful Izmir, the city lies at the head of a long and
narrow gulf furrowed by ships and yachts. The climate is mild and in the summer
the constant and refreshing sea breezes temper the sun's heat. The broad
boulevards, glass-fronted buildings and modern shopping centres are dotted with
traditional red-tiled roofs, the 18th century market, old mosques and churches.
The city has an atmosphere more of Mediterranean Europe than traditional Turkey.
For many years now Izmir has enjoyed a reputation as a cosmopolitan city of
culture. The Ataturk Cultural Centre hosts weekend concerts with the Izmir State
Symphony Orchestra, the Izmir State Opera and Ballet perform in an Ottoman art
deco building on Milli Kutuphane Caddesi.
During the summer there are events at the open-air theatre in Kulturpark and
mid-June sees the month-long International Izmir festival with many events. The
International Film Festival takes place every April, with foreign films shown in
their original language with subtitles.