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Kemeralti Izmir

Kemeralti Izmir
Kemeralti is the historical market (bazaar) area of Izmir and was originally formed from the street that surrounded the shallow inner bay of the city which silted over time during the 17th century enabling the bazaar to extend over a wider area.

Location of Kemeralti

It is surrounded by what is known today as Anafartalar Street (Caddesi),
historically known as the Street of the Mevlevis and refers to the dergah building located here that was designed for meetings of a Sufi brotherhood, and today represents the main part of Kemeraltı. The district that the Kemeralti is in covers a vast area extending from the Agora of Smyrna (Namazgah, Mezarlıkbaşı and İkiçeşmelik) to the shoreline along Konak Square and today is one of the busiest parts of Izmir.  

Kemeralti in History

The first signs of the Kemeraltı began after the Hisar Mosque was built in 1592 which is the oldest and one of the most significant Ottoman landmarks in Izmir . Hisar translates to fortress and refers the Genoese castle of San Pietro , previously known in Byzantine times as Neon Kastron, which once stood at the same location but disappeared over time with the construction of new buildings and its last vestiges being removed during the installation of the new port from 1867-1876.
The actual market came into existence during 1650-1670 with the process of obtaining more land from the bay in 1744 and the construction of the Kizlaragasi Han , an impressive caravanserai that still stands today, at the centre of the market, along with two older hans. These were the Great Vezir Han built in 17th century by Grand Vizier Köprülü Fazıl Ahmed Paşa and its neighbour Little Vezir Han built by his successor Merzifonlu Kara Mustafa Paşa; there was a third and equally important han, although no longer in existence, the Cezayir Han (Han of Algiers). The Algiers was from where, and for centuries, the western Anatolian Ottoman’s took its excess labour force and sent them to work at Ottoman settlements. The Kemeralti once boasted over a 100 hans which can be seen on maps drawn by French cartographers in 1905 for international insurance companies, many of them were destroyed during the Great Fire of 1922 and only a handful remain today.

Visiting Kemeralti

The bazaar is a great place to spend a few hours shopping and offers many bargains particularly leather goods, clothing and jewellery. There are also flower and bead markets and lots of small tea and coffee cafés offering refreshments and snacks.

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