Ancient city on the Aegean Sea, northernmost of the Ionian cities on the western coast of Asia Minor (now the Gulf of Izmir, Turkey). An important maritime state circa 1000–550 BC, it founded a number of colonies, including Massilia (Marseille) in the western Mediterranean. It declined after the Persian conquest circa 545 BC. The modern town of Foça is located in an olive- and tobacco-growing region and attracts tourists to the ancient city's ruins.
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Phocaea, or Phokaia, (Φώκαια) (modern-day Foça in Turkey) was an ancient Ionian Greek city on the western coast of Anatolia. Greek colonists from Phocaea founded the colony of Massalia (modern day Marseille, in France) in 600 BC, Emporion (modern day Empúries, in Catalonia, Spain) in 575 BC and Elea (modern day Velia, in Campania, Italy) in 540 BC.
According to Herodotus the Phocaeans were the first Greeks to make long sea-voyages, having discovered the coasts of the Adriatic, Tyrrhenia and Spain. Herodotus relates that they so impressed Arganthonios, king of Tartessus in Spain, that he invited them to settle there, and, when they declined, gave them a great sum of money to build a wall around their city.
Their sea travel was extensive. To the south they probably conducted trade with the Greek colony of Naucratis in Egypt, which was the colony of their fellow Ionian city Miletus. To the north, they probably helped settle Amisos (Samsun) on the Black Sea, and Lampsacus at the north end of the Hellespont (now the Dardanelles). However Phocaea's major colonies were to the west. These included Alalia in Corsica, Emporion in Spain, and especially Massalia (Marseille) in France.
Phocaea remained independent until the reign of the Lydian king Croesus (circa 560–545 BC), when they, along with the rest of mainland Ionia, first, fell under Lydian control and then, along with Lydia (who had allied itself with Sparta) were conquered by Cyrus the Great of Persia in 546 BC, in one of the opening skirmishes of the great Greco-Persian conflict.
Rather than submit to Persian rule, the Phocaeans abandoned their city. Some may have fled to Chios, others to their colonies on Corsica and elsewhere in the Mediterranean, with some eventually returning to Phocaea. Many however became the founders of Elea, around 540 BC.
In 500 BC, Phocaea joined the Ionian Revolt against Persia. Indicative of its naval prowess, Dionysius, a Phocaean was chosen to command the Ionian fleet at the decisive Battle of Lade, in 494 BC. However, indicative of its declining fortunes, Phocaea was only able to contribute three ships, out of a total of "three hundred and fifty three". The Ionian fleet was defeated and the revolt ended shortly thereafter.
After the defeat of Xerxes I by the Greeks in 480 BC and the subsequent rise of Athenian power, Phocaea joined the Delian League, paying tribute to Athens of two talents. In 412 BC, during the Peloponnesian War, with the help of Sparta, Phocaea rebelled along with the rest of Ionia. The Peace of Antalcidas, which ended the Corinthian War, returned nominal control to Persia in 367 BC.
It was later briefly under the control of Benedetto Zaccaria, the Genoan ambassador to Byzantium; Zaccaria amassed a considerable fortune from his properties there. It remained a Genoese colony until it was taken by the Turks in 1455. It is a titular see of the Roman Catholic Church.