Agora of Smyrna – İzmir, Turkey - Atlas Obscura

This agora and the massive stone arches of its cryptoportico are a highlight of İzmir. The agora was originally built by the Greeks during the 4th century B.C., but the arches date back to 178 A.D. After an earthquake destroyed the original structure, the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius ordered that it be rebuilt.

The city of Smyrna was established in the 3rd century B.C. by Alexander the Great, and the Agora would have been the center of life in this prosperous city. Eventually, the city became part of the Roman Empire, and its location made it an important center for trade. 

Legend has it that an oracle told Alexander the Great to relocate the original city of Smyrna (built by the Greeks in 11th century BC) to a nearby hill named Pagos, the present location of what is now Izmir. His dream was eventually carried out after his death.

The agora’s underground network of arches and their skylit vaults support the ruins of portico structures above. These ruins were excavated in 1932-1942, and today the agora is open to the public. These arches and their history remind us of the beauty and longevity of structural masonry. 

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March 2, 2021
June 2, 2023

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