İzmit, is a district and the capital of the Kocaeli province in the Marmara region of Turkey. It is very close to Istanbul in the Gulf of Izmit. This is a port city with a large oil refinery and paper and cement factories. The Turkish built Ford Transit is produced here and supplies the whole of Europe. The city also has a large student population, many of whom study at the Kocaeli University.
The city used to be known as Nicomedia in Greek. This Byzantine city also used to be a capital city of the Roman Empire. Dwarfed by its neighbouring city Istanbul, Izmit serves as an industrial hub and gateway to Kocaeli’s other ports and industrial docks. The city has access to excellent transport routes via the main highways, railway and sea.
The city of Izmit has developed in two parts, most of it on the hilly slopes, and the city centre on the flat plains. You can find many historic houses in the old sector of Izmit. They are mostly examples from the Ottoman period. You could be forgiven for dismissing Izmit as just another city and an industrialised one at that. It is unlikely to attract vast numbers of tourists who flock to Istanbul. However there is much more to Izmit than you might expect.
After a period under the Greeks, the Romans and the Byzantines, the city fell to the Ottomans in 1326. The area in and around the city is littered with archaeological sites and hidden gems that are still waiting to be discovered. Some of the older buildings and structures that had stood for centuries are in need of repair and excavation after the disasterous earthquake in August 1999 which killed more than 17,000 of the city’s residents.
Izmit is famous for its traditional sweet product called Pismaniye which consists of fine strands made by blending flour roasted in butter into pulled sugar. The city has all the modern conveniences that you would expect. There are plenty of good quality shopping centres, restaurants, cafes and bars. There is also good hotel accommodation. Izmit probably needs at least a couple of days to explore, ideally three days if you have the time.
Places to Visit
İzmit Saat Kulesi
The clock tower in Turkish cities is becoming a popular theme. This one is situated in a nice park with tea gardens and restaurants nearby. It is lit up at night and makes a picturesque backdrop to any photo.
This is a large and pleasant park with a sea promenade. Popular at all times of the day you can find a selection of good restaurants and cafes serving a variety of Turkish and foreign cuisine. There are also some good fish restaurants, but check the prices before you order.
Seka Paper Museum
A large paper museum taking you through the history of paper making and the various stages of production of paper. This is very relevant to Izmit since the paper factories here produce around half of Turkey’s paper requirements.
Kocaeli Bilim Merkezi
Spend two or three hours here in the Science Centre. A good place for families to visit, particularly if the weather is bad.
İzmit Ethnography Museum
I would always recommend visiting the Ethnography Museum of any city. This one houses a large number of artefacts and provides an in depth look at the history of the local area and some of the treasures that have been found are housed in this museum. The old railways station next door is also worth a visit and there are some vintage trains here. The Ethnography Museum has a very strange attitude to visitors taking photos. It almost makes the place seem very unfriendly and this over zealous approach, and the fact that they provide little in the way of information, is something that visitor need to be aware of in advance.
Gayret Gemi Museum
The area around the Gulf of Izmit has a number of naval bases. The Gayret Naval Museum has a submarine and a destroyer for visitors to look round and explore. A fascinating insight into Ottoman and modern day fighting forces.
Places to stay
İzmit Öğretmenevi, Kozluk Mahallesi D100 Karayolu Üzeri Seka Camii Girişi İzmit, Tel: 0262 321 06 34
Double Room: 120 TL