- Category: route
Antalya is a sprawling modern city with a small, charming historic center, a good archeology museum, long sunny beaches to east and west, the Turquoise Coast's busiest airport, good hotels, lots to see and do, and dramatic sea and mountain views.
The historic center, called Kaleiçi ("Within the Fortress," Old Antalya) surrounds the Roman harbor. Many buildings here date from Ottoman times, a few from Roman times, and some have been restored as houses, boutique hotels and inns, pensions or restaurants. Antalya's prime beach is Konyaaltı Plajı, a l-o-n-g swath of rough sand and pebbles running west for several kilometers. The sand is somewhat softer along Lara Plajı to the east. Other beaches are farther afield at Side and Alanya to the east, or Kemer, Phaselis and Olympos to the south. Visit Antalya for Kaleiçi, the museum and beaches, and because it's the transportation hub of the region with a big, modern airport 10 km (6 miles) east of the city center, and a big bus terminal (Otogar) 4 km (2.5 miles) north. Here's more on how to get to Antalya, and how to get around.
Antalya is also a good base for day-trips to nearby archeological sites such as Aspendos, Olympos, Perge, Phaselis, Selge, Side and Termessos (map), and even river rafting in Köprülü Canyon National Park. Attaleia, the ancient name of Antalya, is derived from that of the Pergamene king Attalos II Philadelphus, who founded the city on the Pamphylia seacoast around 150 B.C. Settlement of Antalya and its environs stretches back to the dawn of humanity however as attested to by Paleolithic finds discovered in the nearby Karain and Beldibi caves and Early Bronze Age finds discovered at Semahoyuk. Today it is part on Turkey's "Gold Coast", an exquisite land of sun, sea, and history
In 133 B.C. Antalya, together Pergamon's other possessions in Asia Minor, were taken over by Rome. Antalya (or "Attalia" as the Bible calls it) is where Paul set sail from together with Barnabas on his first missionary journey: "They passed through Pisidia and reached Pamphylia. Then after proclaiming the word at Perge they went down to Attalia and from there sailed for Antioch. In 130 A.D., Hadrian visited the city during his peregrinations of his empire and to this we owe the monumental arch built in his honor. During Byzantine times Antalya was an archdiocese. Following the Seljuk capture of the city, Antalya continued to be an important commercial and military port.
Because the modern city sits atop the remains of its predecessors, very little remains of old Antalya. Of the fortifications that once surrounded the city, only Hidirlik tower is still standing. Hadrian's Gate, as we have said, was originally constructed as a victory arch. Kesik ("cut-off") minaret and Yivli ("fluted" or "grooved") minaret is works from the reign of Alaeddin Keykubad I (1219-1236). The former is located on the site of a temple from the 2nd century A.D. while the latter has become a symbol of modern Antalya. Another of the architectural works of importance in Antalya is the Karatay medresse, built during the reign of the same sultan. The ancient castle overlooking the ancient harbor with its old houses nestled inside is worth exploring and the Antalya Museum is a must for anyone interested in this regions art and history.
The area around Antalya is full of places from which one-day trips may be made to ancient Lycian, Pisidian, and Pamphylian sites: Termessos, located amidst the lofty peaks above Antalya; Perge located 17 kilometers, Aspendos located 40 kilometers, and Side located 80 kilometers along the road to Alanya; and cities like Selge and Syllion located somewhat inland are but a few examples. In the direction of Kemer is Phaselis, a marvelous archaeological site where one may enjoy the ruins in the atmosphere of a seaside pine forest. In addition there are a number of scenic spots of natural beauty such as the waterfalls at Duden, Kursunlu and Manavgat, which are a delight to visit on a hot, Mediterranean summer day.