Smyrna, now Izmir, is an ancient city that was founded at a very early period at a central and strategic point on the Aegean coast of Anatolia. Aided by its advantageous port conditions, its ease of defence and its good inland connections, Smyrna rose to prominence before the Classical Era. Its importance can be said to have remained practically uninterrupted to this day. Its initial location at the northeastern corner of the tip of the Gulf of Smyrna is commonly called “Old Smyrna”, and the city after the move to a new location on the slopes of Mount Pagos (Kadifekale today) at the time of Alexander the Great, constitute Smyrna proper. The heart of that new city, principally dating from the late Hellenistic and early Roman period, before a great earthquake in 178, forms the large area of Izmir Agora Open Air Museum today.
The region was settled as of the beginning of the third millennium BCE. It is said to have been a city of the autochthonous Leleges before the Greek colonists started to settle in the coast of Asia Minor as of the beginning of the first millennia BCE. Throughout Antiquity Smyrna was a leading city-state of Ionia, with influence over the Aegean shores and islands. Smyrna was also among the cities that claimed Homer as a resident.
Today the city has earned the nobler designation of Güzelyali (Beautiful Waterfront), and with the completion of a multi-million dollar redevelopment plan that includes the green waterside park and promenade called the Kordon and the restored customs house (or Konak Pier) built by Gustave Eiffel, the name is more than appropriate.