Izmir & Thessaloniki: from Empire to Nation-State

Episode 337

Download the podcast
Feed | iTunes | GooglePlay | SoundCloud

During the late Ottoman period, the diverse and vibrant Aegean ports of Izmir (Smyrna) and Thessaloniki (Salonica) experienced rapid growth and transformation through the increased interconnection of the Mediterranean world and the rise of maritime trade. But in the tumultuous final decade of the Ottoman period, both cities witnessed political and demographic upheaval as well as outright destruction by fire. With Thessaloniki permanently incorporated into Greece and Izmir into the new Republic of Turkey in 1923, the two cities seemed destined to follow different paths. Yet as our guest Kalliopi Amygdalou explains, interesting comparisons and parallels between the development of Izmir and Thessaloniki endured even after they ceased to be part of a unified Ottoman polity. In this episode, we follow the story of urban and architectural transformation in Izmir and Thessaloniki after the decade of war between the Balkan Wars (1912-13) and the establishment of the Republic of Turkey and the period that followed in the two cities under a transition from empire to nation-state.

Stream via SoundCloud 

Episode Contents: 1. Fire and Reconstruction 0'00 - 9'12''
2. French Architects in the Near East 9'12''
3. On French Urbanism 11'43''
4. Memory and Nation Building in Thessaloniki 15'15''
5. Izmir and Kültürpark 16'50''
6. Back in the 'metropolis' 19'43''
7. The University of Ionia / Izmir Kız Lisesi 21'30''

Contributor Bios
Kalliopi Amygdalou is an architect and architectural historian, currently a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellow at the Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy, working on the politicisation of architectural heritage in south-eastern Europe. She completed her doctoral studies at the Bartlett School of Architecture (U.C.L.) in 2014 with her thesis titled 'A Tale of Two Cities in Search of a New Identity: The Politics of Heritage and Modernisation in early 20th-century Izmir and Thessaloniki'. From 2015-2017 she taught at the Department of Architecture of Izmir Institute of Technology in Turkey.
Michael Talbot received his PhD from SOAS in 2013 for a thesis on Ottoman-British relations in the eighteenth century, and now lectures and researches on a range of topics in Ottoman history at the University of Greenwich in London.

Recommended Episodes
Sotirios Dimitriadis #094
Salonica in the Age of Ports
Michael Ferguson #257
African Diaspora in Ottoman Izmir
Devin Naar #314
Jewish Salonica and the Greek Nation
Kishwar Rizvi #244
Neo-Ottoman Architecture and the Transnational Mosque
Paolo Girardelli #245
Landscapes of the Eastern Question


Episode No. 337
Release Date: 23 November 2017
Audio editing by Chris Gratien
Music: Harmandali - Recep Efendi, Cemal Efendi
Special thanks to Muhtelif for the use of "Ta Paidia & Lamma Bada"
Images and bibliography courtesy of Kalliopi Amygdalou


The cleaning of Izmir Kültürpark after the fire. Source: APIKAM, Izmir
Thessaloniki's Aristotelous square on the waterfront. Photo by Kalliopi Amygdalou, 2010
Entrance of Izmir's Girls School (Kız Lisesi), previously the University of Ionia. Photo by Kalliopi Amygdalou, 2013

Select Bibliography

Amygdalou, Kalliopi, 'Building the Nation at the Crossroads of ‘East’ and ‘West’: Ernest Hébrard and Henri Prost in the Near East', Opticon1826 (16): 15, pp.1-19, DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5334/opt.bv 

Bozdoğan, Sibel, 'Turkish Architecture between Ottomanism and Modernism, 1873-1931', in Ways to Modernity in Greece and Turkey: Encounters with Europe, 1850-1950, ed. by Frangoudaki, Anna and Keyder, Çağlar (London: Tauris & Co, 2007) pp.113-132 

Hautecoeur, Louis, 'Henri Prost à la Villa Medicis, 1902-1907', L'Oeuvre de Henri Prost - Architecture et Urbanisme, (Paris: Academie d'Architecture, 1960), pp.11-30 

Yerolympos, Alexandra, Urban Transformations in the Balkans (1820-1920) (Thessaloniki: University Studio Press, 1996).


Unknown said…
Interesting Podcast.I think the Çamlıca Mosque is a very dominant replica over Istanbul, with a political intention. So is the Topçu Kışlası proposal at Taksim Square, which at the moment is still a proposal. I'd rather have the park of my childhood stay there than the reconstruction of a place of mutiny which was knocked down. Taksim square of my childhood is now a huge block of concrete. It has no personality or warmth.
Kathryn Gauci said…
It is interesting to see how the different ideologies combine with international design ideas of the period.
Unknown said…
An in-depth discussion of a very interesting topic, with timely and pertinent questions and references to current issues..great job by both presenter and guest.

Ottoman History Podcast is a noncommerical website intended for educational use. Anyone is welcome to use and reproduce our content with proper attribution under the terms of noncommercial fair use within the classroom setting or on other educational websites. All third-party content is used either with express permission or under the terms of fair use. Our page and podcasts contain no advertising and our website receives no revenue. All donations received are used solely for the purposes of covering our expenses. Unauthorized commercial use of our material is strictly prohibited, as it violates not only our noncommercial commitment but also the rights of third-party content owners.

We make efforts to completely cite all secondary sources employed in the making of our episodes and properly attribute third-party content such as images from the web. If you feel that your material has been improperly used or incorrectly attributed on our site, please do not hesitate to contact us.