As a child I found Alsancak the most appealing place in Izmir. Of course I had no idea why this was at the time, but looking back now I realise that the attraction, together with a touch of mystery, lay in Alsancak's historic buildings. I do not think it was only the period atmosphere of the mansions arrayed like a string of pearls, but also the contrast between old and new - between the houses with their bay windows and the tall, ultramodern apartment blocks.
Alsancak, formerly known as Punta, has always been Izmir's European quarter, a patch of the West in Asia Minor. As Anatolia's foremost export port for centuries, it was inevitable that the district around the port should become the city's commercial centre. It was in Alsancak that the stream of foreign merchants, travellers, and goods from Europe first touched down on Turkish soil, and consequently here that every innovation in the city took root