The large port city of Izmir is located on the Turkish coast of the Aegean Sea. Its location at the bottom of the Gulf of Izmir has made it play a prominent role as a commercial port and as a meeting point for peoples of different origins. Founded almost 30 centuries ago by peoples of Hellenic origin, it was one of the most important cities of the Ionian League, the alliance of Greek cities in Anatolia and nearby islands. Starting in the year 1600, it became a free port and the center of trade in the eastern Mediterranean. Its importance multiplied after the alliance of the Ottoman Empire with France, which attracted French, Armenian, Jewish, Greek, Genoese and Venetian merchants. It became the most cosmopolitan city in that empire, where foreign residents enjoyed economic opportunities, political privileges, and religious freedom. All this rich history, full of influences from different cultures over many centuries, has allowed it to be included in the tentative list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites as a Historic Port City in 2020.

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