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A Guide to the Ailments of Izmir, Turkey

A Guide to the Ailments of Izmir, Turkey

I have been traveling around Turkey to study what is turning this beautiful country to hell. My subject for this article is Izmir, one of the biggest three metropolitan areas of Turkey with more than 3 million inhabitants. The truth hurts, but unfortunately I feel it is important to write this. While Izmir, located in the

I have been traveling around Turkey to study what is turning this beautiful country to hell. My subject for this article is Izmir, one of the biggest three metropolitan areas of Turkey with more than 3 million inhabitants. The truth hurts, but unfortunately I feel it is important to write this.

While Izmir, located in the western extremity geographically, is one of the most beautiful cities of Turkey, it is also one of the ugliest. Just like Istanbul, Izmir is a gigantic metropolis. Every hill is invaded by slums where crime runs rampant. Decent people try to survive under brutal conditions and consequently parent unhealthy citizens.

City Layout

Izmir's districts can easily be classified as luxurious neighborhoods, middle-class residential areas, and slums. Izmir's higher grounds are invaded by slums, except for a few that are reserved for "visionaries" who conquered these hills to build their magnificent residences. Except for the hills that accommodate the lifts, not even one of them is green.

Izmir City Landscape Daytime

Alsancak, Karsiyaka, Goztepe, Balcova and some luxurious neighborhoods of Bornova are beautiful, but let's face it: Izmir's urban planning looks like it was designed by a set of toddlers, which means there does not seem to be any planning involved. If you board a ferry from the cove area, you will be able to observe the ugliness of the city in its full glory. Of course, you can always choose to look at the beautiful waterside mansions of Karsiyaka and historical buildings of Alsancak, and refuse to accept the real Izmir.


Would you like to pass away while getting health care, or not get health care at all? Move to Izmir, and you won't be disappointed. In Karsiyaka, a downtown district, there is one hospital for every 400,000 people. If you think I'm exaggerating, feel free to visit the Karsiyaka Public Hospital's ER service.


Izmir is more civilized than Istanbul: There are less vicious people who have sworn to make the city a living hell for the government officials, tourists and other citizens. In Izmir people have a better understanding of politeness, compared to the inner Anatolian cities. However when it comes to public transportation, the inhabitants go bananas. The destructive outbursts of an older citizen in 113ºF for seeing a youngster not giving up his seat may ruin your day.

The conditions of educational services are horrible. With the rising income and "civilization," teenagers dare to try whatever comes their way. The high schools in high income neighborhoods and low income neighborhoods are where hell breaks loose and many teenagers are wasted.

Finding a job is relatively easy. Even when you don't have any skills, it's possible to do something simple and be a breadwinner. You will have no problems if you are okay with having little money to spare. If you are extremely qualified, you can get a job in various engineering and service positions.

Izmir at Night

Intracity Transportation

The air conditioned buses provide a viable transportation environment. However, there are some old buses and I'd rather live in pain than get on one of those. If you are on one of these old buses and you have earplugs on with classical music on your iPod, you will probably end up listening to industrial death metal with the additions of the noise these buses make.

There are also mini-buses, and these are integral to Izmir's public transportation. They are okay if your destination is close. However, stay on the vehicle for too long and life will gradually become unbearable. For example, get on a mini-bus on the line between Menemen and Bus Terminal and you will have a taste of adrenaline and imminent death as the traffic runs at 93.5 mph.

Railways are definitely providing a scandalous service. Many years ago, the late Ahmet Piriştina, mayor of Izmir from 1999 to 2004, built a subway in almost no time. This subway line is not getting any longer and no one seems to wonder why.

Last but not least: Sea transportation. Izmir's ferries are a nice alternative to road transport. You can cross the cove instead of driving around it, saving you a lot of time.

Intercity Transportation

You can easily travel to any part of Turkey either by bus or by plane. It's also easy to find flights abroad.

Last Impressions

If you belong to the middle class and you wish to live in a neighborhood suited to your income, Izmir will prove to be satisfactory. However, you need to protect your child. As with all metropolitan areas, drugs and bad influence pose a problem in Izmir. In short, Izmir is a city where you cannot hope to live smoothly.

What are your impressions of Izmir?

Original article, originally published in Turkish, here.

Credits: Images by Tambako the Jaguar and Ceyhun Isik. Data linked to sources.

Intern photo

Born and raised in Istanbul, Imra earned her B.A. in Translation and Interpretation from Bilkent University in 2010. From her senior year on, she works as a literary translator, with an emphasis on children’s literature. She gained extensive knowledg...

  • Natalie

    I too, have a love / hate relationship with Izmir but try to focus on the positive points instead!

    • Imra Gundogdu

      Thank you for your comment, Natalie! I agree this translation is a little pessimistic, since Izmir’s beauty and its people’s politeness are unparalelled, and the city itself is definitely a sight to see!

  • Jose Sanchez

    Hello Irma,

    I thought your post was very interesting.

    I am currently doing my PhD and about the city-port relation, and Izmir is one of the main study cases. Could you tell me how is the relation of Izmir with the Port, people love it? Hate it? They think is positive? Is it a barrier for the people to get to the water?

    I want to know more about the subject but is difficult to get information online because everything is “official”, so they say everything is great but I have some doubts.

    It would be great if you could give some information!!

    Thanks in advance!

    Best regards

  • Imra Gundogdu

    Comments are what keeps the bloggers going, so I thank you for your comment! I’m happy you enjoyed the article and took the pessimistic tone positively.

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