On the day we were due to return home we decided to do a another walking tour of the city which would include a visit to the Ionian Agora (administrative centre and market place) and the hill-top castle.
The first place if interest was the Hanım Zübeyde ferry museum which we spotted whilst sipping out morning coffee on the coastal promenade. The Motor Vessel Zübeyde Hanım was built in 1987 and served as a ferry for Istanbul services on the Bosporous. It was named after Mustafa Kemal Atatürk’s mother. After looking around the exhibits I asked for permission for us the visit the engine room, which was roped off and is normally out of bounds. We were delighted to be given a guided tour by the enthusiastic Captain of the four-man crew. He only spoke Turkish – and only very quickly I might add. Some of the vocabulary was a little challenging for me but he explained how the two diesel propulsion engines were started (using compressed air) and how the lubrication oil’s filtration system worked. Two diesel engine generators provided electrical power and there was a back-up unit too. The ship was fully serviceable even though it was used as a museum.
“Listen to me lanky, there’s no way you work down here.”
We walked up to the agora via a pedestrianised area in the Konak district featuring the wonderfully ornate Yalı Mosque and the Moorish clock tower.
Yalı Mosque in Konak district
The Mosque was constructed in 1755 under the patronage of Ayşe Hanım, the wife of Katipzade Mehmet Paşa who governed İzmir at the time. The outer tiles were brought from Kütahya. It has a single dome and minaret and unusually for a mosque, only one entrance. The interior is lit by a chandelier by Ümran Baradan.
Clock Tower in Konak District
One of the city’s major landmarks, this Moorish-style clock tower with four fountains was designed by the Levantine French architect Raymond Charles Père and built in 1901 to commemorate the 25th anniversary of Abdülhamid II’s accession to the throne. The clock itself was a gift from German Emperor Wilhelm II.
Passing through the fascinatingly dynamic Kemeraltı indoor market we soon reached the ancient agora.
In more recent times part of the Agora site had been used as an Ottoman cemetery.
Ottoman Graveyard Stones and Tombs
The walk up the steep narrow streets and paths to the Kadifekale castle was interesting as we passed through some very under privileged housing, many of which were derelict or being demolished. We were quite an attraction for the small kids as they were confident enough to try out their basic English on use. One or two begged money from us too which we’d also experienced from some Syrian refugees in the city.
We never felt intimidated by the elder youths – though I’ve since read it’s not a place to walk through alone, especially after dark.
Rug Weaving in the Castle Grounds