Izmir Asansör (Historical Elevator)

Last Updated on February 18, 2024

Izmir Asansör is a historical elevator and building complex that is located in the Izmir metropolitan district of Konak. The Turkish word asansör comes from the French word for elevator ascenseur. Konak district is also home to other popular destinations and structures in Izmir, such as Izmir Tarihi Saat Kulesi, Agora (Smyrna) Ören Yeri, and Kızlarağası Hanı (Kemeraltı Bazaar).

It is known for its rich history, reflecting the beauty of the historical building, the street leading up to it, and the panoramic view of Izmir and the Aegean Sea. Moreover, there is a restaurant/café operated by the Izmir municipality where you can have delicious Turkish cuisine or just a drink of traditional Turkish tea or coffee at very affordable prices, and admission to the building is free as the elevator counts as a public service.

In the upper streets of Izmir's Asansör, visitors can explore numerous historic houses and streets while enjoying stunning views of the city from above. In the street leading up to the Asansör building, there are pubs and cafes serving drinks and food all day long.

The enterprise up the elevator serves two different facilities (though they are right next to each other). You can make a reservation to have a romantic dinner night in the Asansör Restaurant (Asansör Restoran), or you can drop by the Terrace Cafe (Teras Kafe), where you can also have all kinds of traditional and international meals. Both facilities offer a wide range of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks and boast beautiful views of Izmir and the Aegean Sea. However, Terrace Cafe is usually more crowded.

How to Get to Izmir Asansör

The historical building of Izmir Asansör is just 8 km away from Konak Square, a central square located in the heart of İzmir. To get to Konak Square, you can use the Izmir metro line and get off at the Konak metro stop. There are several bus lines that pass through Konak Square, including 104, 157, 202, and 253. If you prefer taking a ferry, the Karşıyaka-Konak Ferry Line stops at the port near Konak Square.

After you get to Konak Square, Izmir Asansör can be reached by traveling only one stop with Izban (Izmir's tram line). You can also prefer walking along the narrow coastline of Konak, which will reach the Asansör Building in around 40 minutes.

History of Izmir Asansör Building

Izmir's Asansör building is an asansör tower (elevator tower) that connects two streets that are separated by a steep cliff that is 58 meters (183.73 ft) in height! While today, İzmir's Historical Elevator Building is operated by the Izmir municipality, this was not always the case. The building actually has a very interesting story.

The Karataş region of Izmir was once a stone quarry, which separated the coastline (now Mithatpaşa Street) from Halil Rıfat Paşa Street. To connect them, stairs were built, known as “Karataş Stairs” by the Turks and “Devidas' Stairs” by the Jewish settlers. Up the street, the Devidas family was living, and down the street, it was Nesim Levi Bayraklıoğlu, a wealthy Jewish banker.

One day, after Baba Devidas broke his foot falling down these stairs, his friend Nesim Levi got the idea of building an elevator, which was completed in 1907 with special bricks from Marseille. The elevator building's income covered the expenses of the Karataş Jewish Hospital until it was sold in 1942. The building was donated to Izmir Metropolitan Municipality in 1983 with the condition that it be used for the same purpose. It was recently restored along with Dario Moreno Street and reopened on June 20, 1993.

Dario Moreno Street

If you look at the location of the Izmir Asansör on Google Maps, you will notice the street leading up to the elevator is named "Dario Moreno Street." You might think this is not the usual name for a Turkish street, and you are right.

Originally, the street was known as Asansör Street, and it was quite a small street with not much attraction except the Asansör building and tower, which provided an easy way for people to move around and carry things throughout the day. Dario Moreno, a famous Turkish-Jewish singer lived on this street.

Dario Moreno's fate had bigger plans for him than he could have imagined. He became a world-famous singer, achieved fame even in France, and starred in 32 movies throughout his career. Despite his success, he never forgot the beauty of Izmir and always cherished the city. As a tribute to his love for the city, the Asansör Sokağı was named after him.

-written by Can Turan

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