Having some time to kill in Izmir, waiting for the bike to be serviced (which will be another story), we decided to drop in on Smyrna Agora. We were quite shocked to see a tour bus as we arrived, normally the place is empty. The bus left before we entered and as per usual we had the place to ourselves, other than for a pair of crows and some archaeologists. We cannot understand why so few people visit, it is right in the heart of Izmir, is fascinating, was a three story Roman shopping mall and public place, still has water running through it, and some nice pieces of architecture.
There is some more work being done, a new dig, and preparations for opening up some of the adjoining buildings. There was a sign indicating a hall with a mosaic, and a walkway to it, but the walkway was roped off. There was also signage and details about the Bouleterion another adjoining building. We would imagine the Bouleterion of Smyrna to be fairly impressive. There were quite a few workmen and archaeologists around still working on the mosaic building and the Bouleterion and no indication of when it will be opened to the public.
Part of the Basilica remains closed but there are signs it too is being prepared to reopen. There were pictures in there with writing under them – we think about the statues and inscriptions originally found there, difficult to be sure as it was hard to see through the barriers.
Perhaps, although the site is impressive to us, it doesn’t seem to have what it takes to attract visitors. We think they are hoping to attract more people by providing more visual information on the site itself. This is a different approach to the massive reconstruction efforts we have seen elsewhere. It remains to be seen which approach will capture the public’s imagination.