Several churches and synagogues enrich the cultural identity of Izmir, where different cultures and religions have coexisted in tolerance and peace for centuries.
Izmir has long been hosting the holy places of three religions with tolerance and respect, and occupies a special place in belief tourism with diverse values it embodies within its cultural identity.
Izmir is home to various significant monuments, such as The House of Virgin Mary, which is of capital importance to Christians and which was visited by Pope Paul VI in 1967, Pope John Paul II in 1979 and Pope Benedict XVI in 2006; the “Double Churches” in Ephesus which happens to be the first church built in the name of Virgin Mary; the Basilica of St. John which stands over the believed burial site of St. John – one of Jesus’s most favourite apostles; the Cave of the Seven Sleepers; and three of the Seven Churches of Revelation located in Ephesus, Smyrna and Pergamon.
It should be kept in mind that the churches mentioned in the New Testament are not churches in real terms as we understand it today, but signify the first Christian communities that fled from the Roman oppression to carry out their religious activities and worship in freedom. Church ruins found today in places where the communities of the seven churches of revelation used to survive are the structures built after the adoption of Christianity as an official religious.
HİSARÖNÜ MOSQUE: The mosque was built at the end of the 16th century, and historical records reveal two different dates, namely 1592 and 1598, for the exact date of its construction. There is a big central dome in the middle, three domes on both sides, and three small domes at the back. The mosque, which represents one of the most striking examples of the Ottoman style of decoration, is the biggest and central mosque in the city.
KESTANE PAZARI MOSQUE: It is one of the most attractive places in Kemeralti. It was built in 1677 with a square plan consisting of four domes supporting the main dome in the middle. The gorgeous niche is believed to have been brought from the Isa Bey Mosque in Seljuk.
SALEPCİOGLU MOSQUE: Located in Salepcioglu street, this mosque has a very elegant style. It was built by Salepcizade Haci Ahmet Efendi in 1906 as the mosque with the biggest dome in Izmir. It is among the most precious mosques of the city with its svelte minaret.
SADIRVAN MOSQUE: According to the famous Turkish traveller Evliya Celebi, the mosque was built in 1636. It takes its name from the fountain on its side and below. It has a minaret with a single balcony in the east side and a library in west.
BASDURAK MOSQUE: Located in Anafartalar Street, the mosque was built in 1652. Its narthex is lighted by windows from bottom to top, and the pulpit is made of marble.
KEMERALTI MOSQUE: Located in Anafartalar Street where the old inland port used to be, the mosque is thought to be built in the 18th century. It has a single dome, and creates a complex with its madrasah (Muslim theological school), library and public fountain.
YALI (KONAK) MOSQUE: The mosque, which draws attention with its ceramic tiles and octagonal structure, is located in Konak Square as one of the most elegant mosques in Izmir. It was built by Mehmet Pasha’s daughter Ayşe Hanim in 1755 and renovated during the First World War. The outside of the mosque used to be covered with Kutahya ceramics, but after the renovation in 1964 only the ceramics on its door and window frames were preserved. It is a pretty architectural structure with a single dome and single minaret built in classical Ottoman style.
KURŞUNLU MOSQUE: Located in the Namazgah Square, it is one of the oldest mosques in the city. It is believed to be built by Sultan Selim the Stern. There is a 3 meters high platform which was built for the purpose of reciting the azan in the small courtyard in the front.
FAIK PASHA MOSQUE: It was built at the beginning of the 16th century and repaired in 1842. It is located in 965 and 967 streets, and its masonry dome is covered with lead.
SEYH MOSQUE: The mosque is located between 964 and 961 streets and takes its name from Şeyh (Sheik) Mustafa Efendi, one of the caliphs of Aziz Mahmud Hüdai Efendi and a member of Halvetiye sect whose is buried in the shrine next to the mosque. Evliya Celebi mentions this mosque and notes that this person was alive at the time of the construction of the mosque. The mosque is thought to be built in the middle of the 17th century.
FETTAH MOSQUE: Located on the corner of 1297 and 1298 streets, it is assumed to be built in the 17th century. Evliya Celebi names this mosque “Abdulfettah Cavus” and refers to it as a mosque “thriving with tile”.
HATUNIYE MOSQUE: The mosque from the 17th century, which is located in Anafartalar Street, is known to be built by Yusuf CavuS’s son Ahmet Aga’s mother Tayyibe Hatun. The dome covering the central space of the mosque stands on a belt pulley with 12 corners.
ALİAĞA MOSQUE: The mosque, which was built by Gediz Ali Aga in 1672, has a single dome standing on a square-plan and octagonal structure with wooden columns. The gold decorations on column heads and the hand drawn ornamentations are from the 19th century.
IKICESMELİK MOSQUE: The central space of the mosque, built in 1893 and located in İkicesmelik district, is covered with a dome supported by two pillars and four columns. The dome is decorated with hand drawn ornamentations. There is a small courtyard in the east side.
CORAKKAPI MOSQUE: The mosque located across the Basmane Station was built in 1747. The central space is covered with a dome standing on an octagonal belt pulley. It was expanded to the sides by constructing spaces with three domes each. The pulpit is made of marble and the minaret is made of ashlar stone.
SAINT POLYCARPE CHURCH: It is the oldest church in Izmir and it is located on the Necatibey Boulevard. It is dedicated to Saint Polycarpe who is among the first students of John the Apostle. Saint Policarpe resisted to the religious oppressions of Roman rulers and he was eventually martyred by being burnt to death on 23 February 155 in the Roman Coliseum in the skirts of Kadifekale. The present day church was built in 1625 with the permission of Sultan Suleyman.
SAINT JOHN CHURCH: The church, which is located across the Alsancak Station, belongs to the Anglican Communion. It was opened to worship on 7 April 1902 and dedicated to Saint Jean the Evangelist.
SAINT JOHN DOME CATHEDRAL: The construction of this church on Şehit Nevres Boulevard was initiated in 1862 and it was opened to worship in 1874. The Ottoman emperor Sultan Abdulaziz donated a great amount of gold for the construction of the church. The church is still used by both the Catholic and Protestant Americans.
SANTA MARIA CHURCH: This Italian Catholic church is located on Halit Ziya Boulevard and it is run and maintained by Franciscan priests.
NOTRE DAME DE ST. HOLY ROSARY CHURCH: It is located in 1481 street in Alsancak.
AGIA FOTINI CHURCH: The church, which is located in 1374 street in Alsancak, was opened to worship in 1793.
NOTRE DAME LOURDES CATHOLIC CHURCH: Located in 81 street in Göztepe district, the church still maintains its structural characteristics. The street where the church is located is referred to as the “Church Street” among the local people.
JOHN BAPTIST CHURCH: It is located on Kemalpaşa Street No.15 and it is open to visitors all the year around.
SANTA MARIA CATHOLIC CHURCH: The church, which is located next to Kars Elementary School in Bornova Republic Square, was built in 1797. It was built by the Franciscan Communion in Byzantium style. It is still open to worship today, and the cemetery in the garden is under protection.
ST.HELEN CATHOLIC CHURCH: St. Helen Church in Karsiyaka, which used to be called “Cordelia”, is the first Catholic Church of Karsiyaka and its construction was completed in 1904. The church was designed and its construction was conducted by the architect Raymond Pere, who also designed the plan of Konak Watch Tower and the famous arch of St. Polycarp Church. Elaborare on the outside architecture of the church turns into an art inside.
PROTESTANT CHURCH: It is a Protestant and Anglican church built in 1838. It was handed over to Buca Municipality in 1961. The valuable stained-glass windows in Neo-Gothic style were later transferred to St. John Evangelist Church in Alsancak.
BETH-ISRAEL SYNAGOGUE: Located on Mithatpasa Street No. 265, the synagogue was built in Karatas district by the command of the Ottoman Sultan Abdulhamit II. Its construction was initiated in 1905 and it was opened to worship in 1907. This biggest Jewish synagogue in Izmir cost 1200 gold coins. The wedding ceremonies of the Jews in Izmir are held in this synagogue.
SHARR ASHAMAYAN SYNAGOGUE: It is located in 1390 Street in Alsancak.
BIKUR HOLIM SYNAGOGUE: This synagogue, which is located in Ikicesmelik Street, was first built by the Dutch Salomon de Ciaves living in Izmir. This first synagogue was destroyed in the big city fire in 1772 and replaced by a new one built in 1800 by Manuel de Ciaves. This most beautiful synagogue in Izmir still preserves its appearance in the old days.
Today, there are six synagogues around Havra Street and Ikicesmelik. Most of these synagogues are out of use due to the low number of Jewish community, yet they still maintain their existence. This region, which used to be intensely populated by the Jewish community, is a significant site for belief tourism and frequently visited by the Jewish people. These synagogues and their locations are listed below:
Senyora (Giveret ) Synagague 927 Street No: 7
Shalom Synagague 927 Street No: 38
Algazi Synagague 927 Street No: 8
Etz Hayim Synagague 937 Street No: 5
Hevra Synagague 927 Street No: 4/17
Bet İllel Synagague 920 Street No: 23