• Ottoman Empire ;
  • catastrophe ;
  • fire ;
  • Izmir ;
  • Salonica ;
  • Turkey ;
  • Greece


Two huge fires dramatically influenced the urban development of Salonica and Izmir, in 1917 and in 1922, respectively. These catastrophes occurred after the Ottoman Empire fell, and Salonica and Izmir had shifted into new national contexts. The fires mainly destroyed the districts that were transformed during the late-Ottoman period. These districts became the cosmopolitan façades of modern Izmir and Salonica. The post-fires' tabula rasa provided an opportunity for Greek and Turkish politicians and European planners to change the urban identity of both cities. Moreover, the Lausanne Treaty of 1923 transformed their multicultural societies also. Reconstruction plans had been thought to de-Ottomanize and remove the previous idea of the towns and their multiplicity, interpreting new cultural and nationalist feeling. Here, I emphasize how modernity was interpreted before and after the fires, and point out contradictions between ideological aspects of planning and how the first urban districts were built during the 1920s.