The history of Izmir stretches back to around 3000 BC when the Trojans founded the city in Tepekule in the northern suburb of Bayrakli. This was the birthplace of Homer, who was thought to have lived there around the 8th century BC. The Aeolians, the first settlers, were eventually taken over by the Ionians, and then the Lydians destroyed the city around 600BC before a brief recovery following Alexander the Great’s arrival in 334 BC.
After his death, Alexander’s generals followed his wishes and re-established Smyrna on Mount Pagos in Kadifekale, and the city then prospered under the Romans. It was destroyed by an earthquake in 178 AD but later reconstructed and became a major commercial port. After the Byzantines, the city had a turbulent time under the Arabs, Seljuks, Crusaders and Mongols, until Mehmet I incorporated it into the Ottoman Empire in 1415. Under Suleyman the Magnificent, Smyrna became a thriving and sophisticated city and a huge trading centre, despite its frequent earthquakes. It was cosmopolitan, with Greek Orthodox, Jews and Muslims, and many languages were spoken amongst locals and visiting traders.
Following World War I and the defeat of the Ottoman Empire, Greece was granted a mandate over Izmir and entered the area, coming against the resistance of Ataturk’s nationalists. This resulted in a 3-day bloody battle, during which 70% of the city was burned to the ground and thousands were killed, and the beaten Greeks eventually left on the waiting ships. Ataturk formally took Izmir on 9 September 1922, considered to be the day of victory in the War of Independence and is a national holiday.