Settlements > Smyrna



Alexander the Great's connection to Smyrna (modern-day Izmir, Turkey) is tied to his broader campaign in Asia Minor and his influence on the city's history. Here’s an overview of Alexander's relationship with Smyrna:

Historical Context

  1. Smyrna Before Alexander:
    • Early History: Smyrna was an ancient Greek city located on the Aegean coast of Asia Minor. It had been an important and prosperous city since antiquity.
    • Persian Rule: Like much of Asia Minor, Smyrna fell under Persian control following Cyrus the Great's conquest of Lydia in the mid-6th century BCE.

Alexander’s Campaign in Asia Minor

  1. Invasion of Asia Minor:

    • 334 BCE: Alexander the Great began his campaign against the Persian Empire by crossing the Hellespont into Asia Minor. His goal was to liberate Greek cities under Persian rule and to expand his empire.
  2. Liberation of Greek Cities:

    • Strategy: Alexander's strategy involved liberating Greek cities from Persian control, often receiving them without significant resistance due to his reputation and the desire of many cities to be freed from Persian domination.
    • Smyrna: While Smyrna itself did not play a prominent role in Alexander's military campaigns, the region's cities, including Smyrna, were influenced by his conquests and subsequent policies.

Influence on Smyrna

  1. Rebuilding and Refounding Smyrna:

    • Vision: According to legend, Alexander had a dream while resting on Mount Pagos (Kadifekale) near Smyrna. In this dream, the goddess Nemesis instructed him to rebuild the city of Smyrna at the location of his dream. This vision inspired the refounding and revitalization of the city.
    • Urban Development: Following this inspiration, Smyrna was rebuilt on a new site, Mount Pagos, which offered a more defensible position and better access to the sea. This development marked a significant transformation for the city, contributing to its future prosperity and importance.
  2. Hellenistic Influence:

    • Cultural Integration: Under Alexander and his successors, Smyrna, like many other cities in Asia Minor, experienced a period of Hellenization. Greek culture, language, and architectural styles became prominent, blending with the local traditions.
    • Economic Growth: The new city layout, improved harbor, and favorable location helped Smyrna grow into a major trade center in the Hellenistic period.


  1. Hellenistic Prosperity:

    • Economic Hub: Smyrna became one of the most important cities in Asia Minor during the Hellenistic period, benefiting from its strategic location, excellent harbor, and the stability provided by the broader Hellenistic world.
    • Cultural Center: The city flourished as a cultural and intellectual hub, attracting scholars, artists, and merchants.
  2. Roman Period:

    • Continued Importance: Smyrna's prosperity continued under Roman rule, further solidifying its status as a major urban center in the region.


While Smyrna did not play a central role in Alexander the Great's military campaigns, his influence on the city was profound. Inspired by a dream, Alexander’s vision led to the refounding and revitalization of Smyrna, setting the stage for its development into a significant cultural and economic center during the Hellenistic period and beyond. The city's transformation under Alexander’s influence highlights the broader impact of his conquests on urban development and cultural integration in the ancient world.


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