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New perspectives to save cultural heritage
Altan, M. Orhan

1395 Sokak 34/3 Alsancak - Izmir TURKEY
eilevi@superonline .com
Dokuz Eylul University, Faculty of Architecture, Department of Architecture
KEYWORDS: Architecture, Project, Identification, Archaeology, Revitalization, Proposal, Cultural Tourism, Renovation
The historical assets of Izmir reflecting the ancient identity of the city with a prosperous past of over 5000 years are on the verge of
extinction; thus, raising our awareness as to the preservation of those still in existence has become imperative, dictating
comprehensive conservation studies covering its many aspects. This paper discusses the Agora and its surroundings in the light of the
complex site quality it displays, as one of the archeological focal points in active urban life.
The excavations undertaken intermittently in the past in this area bearing the marks of the Hellenistic-Roman period have assumed
continuity in recent years, hence making available valuable pieces of information regarding the history of the city as well as the
structure itself. Also included in this study are suggestions to re-design the area and its surroundings in terms of cultural tourism.
The study calls for the conservation of the Agora area as a historical focus of interest in daily excursions. Consequently, the
following are to be considered:
Re-designing the area around the Hatuniye Square as regards restaurants, accomodation facilities, souvenir shops.
Improving the appearance of the side streets leading to the Agora area,
Undertaking the restoration of the religious buildings in accordance with the re-designing of the surroundings, and
connecting the pedestrian route to the Agora.
This study offers a solution which considers three main focal points, namely the Hatuniye Square, the streets in the area connecting
Kadifekale, the Antique Theatre and the Agora, and the religious buildings of Kemeralti, so as to provide for the continuity of a
cross-section of the urban identity; and discusses the rehabilitation and maintenance projects for each focal point, along with their
position in the whole picture.
The historical inheritance of our city that has stood the test of
time being so little as it is, the need for exceptional studies in
terms of protecting and maintaining what we have today has
become inevitable. Being one of the urban sites of Izmir, and
located in Kemeralti, at the historical core of town, the Agora
possesses an archeological quality of a past dating back as early
as the Hellenistic period, along with a proximity to other
historical sights, and is therefore one of the most important
elements of urban identity; the area is one that enjoys the
coinciding of many identities, owing to the potential of its
surroundings. It is for these characteristics that the Agora has
been discussed in this paper.
The aim is to realize a program designed to revive and preserve
the rich historical past of the city. The study involves generating
ideas and developing suggestions regarding the conservation of
the whole area. In this respect, rather than the conservation of
an individual structure, a focused conservation as part of a
collective project is what the studies are aimed for. As far as
cultural tourism is concerned, the former identity of the city will
be restored by conserving the chosen areas of focus. With
tourism serving as the medium, not only the structures will be
preserved in their original states, but there will also be revenues
which will enable regular maintenance and repairs.
The Agora being one outstanding ancient focus in town, it is
intended that the touristic potential be enhanced through those
assets surrounding it. Also being studied in this paper are two
other places of interest somewhat connected, Hatuniye Square
and the Synagogues District, along with the streets leading to
the area. An attempt has been made as to determine, regarding
the routes for culture tours, the importance of this project
concentrating on the Agora, while also covering the other sub
districts nearby.
The structure bearing the characteristics of a State Agora
(Texier, 1862). belonging to the Hellenistic-Roman period and
located in the quarter known as Namazgah, was revealed in the
course of some archeological studies in the Turkish cemetery.
The excavations which started in 1927 were then continued with
in the 1932 - 1941 period and later in 1944. After rather a long
interval, there followed the removal of soil in the galleries in
1977, the cleaning by the Parks and Gardens Directorate of the
Izmir Municipality in 1984, and excavations in the northwest
corner by the Regional Restoration Office of Izmir together
with the Izmir Archeology Museum in 1997 - 1998. Since 2002,
Izmir Archeology Museum and the Municipality of Izmir have
been undertaking in co-operation further excavations in the
north and east structures of the area.
Photograph 1 - A general view of the Agora