Gâvur İzmir - Infidel Smyrna

Smyrna 1890

During the Ottoman period, the Turks referred to Smyrna as Gâvur İzmir (Infidel Smyrna) due to its large Christian population. It was burnt to the ground in September 1922 by the Kemalist nationalists.

According to George Horton who was the US Consul General at Smyrna and lived through its destruction:

"The principal promenade of Smyrna was the quay, on which were located the American theater, the prettiest building of its kind in the Ottoman Empire, many cinemas, the best hotels, various modern and well-constructed office buildings, besides the residences of the most prosperous merchants, among whom were Greeks, Armenians and Dutch. On this street also were several of the Consulates, the building owned by the French Government being an impos­ing structure, suitable even for an embassy."

The principal business thoroughfare of Smyrna was the Rue Franque where the great department and wholesale stores of the Greeks, Armenians and Levantines were located. Horton states:

"At the shop­ping hour in the afternoon, the street was so crowded that one moved through it with difficulty, and among the motley throng ladies in costumes of the latest fashion, looking for that sort of merchandise that ladies shop for everywhere, formed a large part."

The social life of Smyrna presented many attractions according to Horton, who said:

"Teas, dances, musical afternoons and evenings were given in the luxurious salons of the rich Armenians and Greeks. There were four large clubs: the 'Cercle de Smyrne', frequented mostly by British, French and Americans; the 'Sporting' with a fine build­ing and garden on the quay; the Greek Club and a Country Club near the American college with excellent golf links and race course."

Businesses were mostly in the hands of the Greeks. Horton continues:

"Of the 391 factories at Smyrna, 344 were Greek and 14 Turkish."

Smyrna 1890

Quotes from: The Blight of Asia, by George Horton.

Greek Genocide Resource Center

Guest Contributor

This piece was written for Greek City Times by a Guest Contributor