Cultural and religious tourism in the southern shores of the black sea: Izmir Case study
School of Humanities, MA in Black Sea & Eastern Mediterranean Studies
This dissertation thesis was written as part of the MA in Black Sea cultural studies at
the International Hellenic University.
The industry of tourism is a relatively new economic activity that its operations are al
ready covering a large part of the globe. Cultural tourism, as a branch of tourism, is a fascinating view of combining leisure and relaxation with the interest to get to know about the culture
of the place visited. The primary reason behind a cultural tourist’s travel is propelled by his
genuine will for the contact with the cultural aspects of the selected location. Religious tourism
is considered as cultural tourism, with the same basic mechanics behind its motives; however,
enhanced spirituality is the most important part of the religious experience. Religious tourism
has a lot in common with pilgrimage, but the basic difference would be the leisure and relaxation the tourist is after as well.
The city of Izmir is a destination that due to its long history has a rich and diverse cultural past. Many important civilizations like the Greek, the Roman and the Ottoman amongst
others, have left their traces in the region. From ancient Forts to oriental Bazaars and from ancient temples to churches and mosques the physical traces left behind offer a great variety. In
addition, all the monotheistic religions had, and still have, a strong presence in the city, and
around Izmir. Based upon this long and pluralistic past, Izmir, or Smyrna as it has been known
in the past, became an interesting case study to ascertain whether people choose this destination for its cultural and religious past. A special reference about the cosmopolitan, and especially the Greek, past of the city is made, as Smyrna has a special place in the Greek historical
and cultural narrative.