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First Thessaloniki-Smyrna Ferry Starts Service on Monday

Smyrna di Levante_Thessaloniki_Smyrna
First Thessaloniki-Smyrna Ferry Starts Service on Monday. Credit: Levante Ferries

On Monday, October 10th, the passenger ferry Smyrna di Levante of Levante Ferries starts its maiden voyage to Smyrna (İzmir) from Thessaloniki. This is the first time in recent memory that a ferry link from Thessaloniki to Smyrna has been established. The journey will begin at 5 pm only for this Monday while following journeys will depart at 7 pm. The voyage will last approximately fourteen hours.

This connection is quite significant as it not only unites Greece with Turkey but also unites Europe with Asia. This will serve passengers and cargo to Europe and the Balkans and vice versa.

As the company states, after thorough and long-term planning requiring patience, persistence, will, and passion as well as lots of conversations and collaborations, the great vision of Levante Ferries is finally being realized. The sea connection between Thessaloniki and Smyrna is now a reality, thus fulfilling the intense and timeless desire of the peoples of Greece and Turkey for an easy and efficient union by sea, the company maintains.

According to the company, tourist traffic on both sides will reach destinations that are currently inaccessible. Excursions and wanderings will be created that today are non-existent. “It is not an exaggeration to say that the connection of Thessaloniki with Smyrna creates brand new perspectives of development and prosperity for many societies,” the company spokesperson says. “The people of Levante Ferries are working hard to prove that cooperation between peoples can only create benefits.”

A safe and enjoyable trip from Thessaloniki to Smyrna

The company describes the new ferry as a luxurious, safe, fully upgraded, and renovated ship, ensuring every passenger “from the Bride of Thermaikos to the Cosmopolitan Asia Minor” a safe and enjoyable journey.

On Friday afternoon, the traditional consecration of the ship will take place in Piraeus and Saturday morning the ship will depart for Thessaloniki. From there, on Monday afternoon, it will make its very first journey to Smyrna.

The Greek-flagged ship has a length of 158.42 meters and has the capacity to transport 948 passengers with four-bed and two-bed cabins as well as airline seats. Furthermore, it has a truck capacity of one thousand lane meters and three hundred cars.

Cosmopolitan Smyrna

The ferry link from Thessaloniki to Smyrna will give people the opportunity to experience a city of an immense amount of Greek history.

Smyrna, which is today located within modern-day Izmir, Turkey, has almost continuously been inhabited for centuries. It was a Greek city located at a strategic point on the Aegean coast of Anatolia. Due to its advantageous port conditions, ease of defense, and advantageous inland connections, Smyrna rose to prominence as a powerful city. Since around the 1930s, the name of the city is İzmir.

Arches in the Ancient Greek city of Smyrna. The city was a center of Greek culture for millennia before all traces of Greeks were destroyed in the Smyrna Fire in 1922. Credit: Benh LIEU SONG/CC BY-SA 2.0

One of the main centers of Greek settlement in western Anatolia, it once had a temple dedicated to Athena and some even claim it was the residence of the epic poet Homer, although the international community has yet to confirm such a claim.

Rebuilt during the Hellenistic era, the Greek culture flourished for centuries. Following the Turkish occupation, it continued to thrive as a significant cultural hub. It remained a commercial and cultural hub of Asia Minor until the tragic destruction of the city on September of 1922.

Since then, the Greek presence in Smyrna ended, and so was much of their historical legacy in Asia Minor.

Churches, ornate villas, and mansions of great architectural importance, as well as schools and entire market areas disappeared.

What is preserved today of Ancient Greek Smyrna

Following the 1922 destruction of Smyrna, the core of the late Hellenistic and early Roman Smyrna has been preserved within the Agora Open Air Museum in Izmir.

This consists of five parts, including the agora area, the base of the northern basilica gate, the stoa, and the ancient market.

Systematic archaeological research is being carried out at the sites of both the old and new cities. This has been conducted since 1997 for Old Smyrna and since 2002 for the Classical Period city by the İzmir Archaeology Museum in collaboration with the Metropolitan Municipality of İzmir.

Archaeologists and local authorities, means permitting, are also eyeing a neighboring multi-story parking garage, which is known to have been built over a vital section of the ancient city. During present renovations, previous older restorations done in concrete are gradually being replaced by marble.

pergmon luxury vip seating theatre
The ancient city of Pergamon, located in the Smyrna (Izmir) region of what is now Turkey, was a major city in the time of Ancient Greece. Its amphitheater even had luxury seating, as evidenced by the recent discovery of inscribed VIP seats made of stone. Credit: Haluk Comertel/Wikimedia Commons/ CC BY-SA 3.0

New excavations have uncovered the agora’s northern gate. It has been concluded that relief figures of the goddess Hestia found during these digs were a continuation of the Zeus altar uncovered during previous digs.

Statues of the gods Hermes, Dionysos, Eros, and Heracles have also been found along with many other statues, heads, reliefs, figurines, and monuments of people and animals made of marble, stone, bone, glass, metal, and terracotta. Inscriptions discovered here also notably list names of those who provided aid to Smyrna after the earthquake of 178 AD.

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