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Mert A. Çakır



Karataş has sparked my interest from the very beginning and presented itself as a place where I, coming from outside of İzmir, would eventually like to live. The neighborhood boasts historically and culturally; you will find Beth-Israel Synagogue, Hoşgör Bathhouse founded by Jewish citizens, Historical Asansör, old Greek houses, schools opened in the early years of the Republic and the long steep stairs... I think the steepest stairs I have ever seen in my life are in this neighborhood.  


You will first arrive at Turgut Reis Avenue if you climb up the very narrow stairs at Mithat Paşa Avenue. If you take the other set of stairs up, you will arrive at Şehit Nihat Bey; and then Halil Rıfat Paşa Avenue; to finally arrive at Kılıç Reis Avenue just below Betonyol and Üçyol.


Today, neither the sea or the boathouses where the stairs were once starting nor the multicultural residents of the neighborhood are where they used to be. Only a century ago, the neighborhood that spanned from seaside up the steep stairs which take you to Üçyol was mainly a home to its Jewish, Greek and Armenian residents. Just as it does not reflect its multicultural heritage anymore, Karataş is deprived of the sea, courant d’air - and its lower parts (Mithat Paşa Avenue and above) of the sun - due to landfilling and construction of tall buildings since the 1970s. 


The coast of Karataş and the baseline of the steep stairs accommodate luxury housing estates, whereas it is still possible to find reasonably priced housing around the middle parts (Halil Rıfat Paşa Avenue and certain areas of Şehit Nihat Bey Avenue and Kılıç Reis Avenue) because of the old age of the buildings and its narrow streets. People who live here are mostly the elderly who have never left the neighborhood, or students, bachelors, artists who have moved to İzmir. Most of the young people who were born and spent their childhood here are nowhere to be found. The main reason is the steep stairs you have to take to get home. For those who choose to live in this neighborhood, these stairs are the most beautiful details this city can provide, and I totally agree.

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