Ancient City Of Smyrna
Smyrna Ancient City
Smyrna Ancient City was one of the oldest cities in the ancient world and located on the Anatolian coast of the Aegean Sea. The city was said to have been founded by the Greek legendary figure of Aeolus and named either after his daughter Smyrna or the mythical Amazon queen Myrina. In ancient Greek and Roman times, Smyrna was a bustling commercial hub and one of the largest cities of the region.
Smyrna was an integral part of the Ionian culture, a sapphire-green oasis then, and a rare and brilliant city that attracted all. Not only were its people renowned, so were the numerous monuments it hosted. The Royal Neoclassical Palace was the center of the old city, which was featured in the popular novels of Lawrence Durrell. The city also had many churches and mosques, including some dedicated to the Virgin Mary, St. Michael and the Prophet John.
The city was besieged by the Romans in the 4th century BC and held a key strategic position and played an important role in Mediterranean trade routes. In Phoenician times the city was known as ‘Tahara’ and was home to one of the most important Temples in the ancient world called the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus. This temple was considered as one of the seven wonders of the ancient world and described by Antipater from Sidon as ‘art beyond art’.
Smyrna was a well-known centre of Hellenistic culture full of theatres and large public squares used for artistic and processional purposes, such as their theatrical representations. Its main square was decorated with columns, statues and labyrinths and a central fountain filled with water from the nearby river. In addition, they also had an impressive array of monuments, many built by the wealthy trading families of Smyrna.
The city was an important place for the spread of Christianity. In the 1st century AD, John the Apostle visited the city and mentioned it’s fine shrines filled with sculptures of gods. St. Polycarp, one of the most famous early Christian martyrs, lived and was martyred in Smyrna.
In the late 4th century the city was sacked by Gothic forces and in 1330 it was conquered by the Ottomans. In 1922 Smyrna was burned and destroyed during the Greco-Turkish War and most of its citizens fled. Today the ruins of the Royal Neoclassical Palace are all that remain of this ancient city and a reminder of the beauty and culture its people have lost.