Antalya, Capital of Tourism
The largest city on the Turkish Riviera with a permanent population of over 775,000, Antalya is located on the Mediterranean Sea in south western Turkey. Its idyllic location on a cliff overlooking the sea has attracted many foreign visitors transforming it into a leading international resort. On top of its beautiful beaches, there are a wealth of interesting sites most of which are located in the old town with its narrow winding streets lined with houses and historical buildings step in ancient architecture.
Getting to the city by plane is quite easy with plenty of low cost flights from Istanbul and hordes of international charter flights. There are also bus links from all over the country. You can also take the ferry from Marmaris further down the coast or from the Greek islands of Rhodes and Kastellorizo. Burdur, 122 km away is the nearest railway station so you have to connect to Antalya by bus if you get this far with the train. Within the city there are frequent bus, tram and dolmus links and plenty of taxis. The trams were a gift from the German city of Nuremberg and are an ideal way to check out the city sights.
A Dip Back in Time
The city’s ancient founder is believed to have been the King of Pergamon, Attalos II, who named it Attalia and used it as a naval base, although archaeological excavations last year suggest that the city’s history is much older than this. In 133 BC it joined the Roman Empire because Attalos willed it to the Empire on his death. It continued to prosper and when the spread of Christianity took root after the 2nd century, it was visited by many apostles like Paul and Barnabas. After Roman rule the Byzantines took over until the 13th century it was captured by the Seljuk Turks. Finally the Ottoman Turks ruled but it continued to grow and flourish. By the 19th century the population had increased tremendously, swelled by the Turks who moved here from the Caucasus and the Balkans. By 1911 the population had reached 25,000 and included many Christians and Jews all of whom lived in separate areas of the town. After the First World War, the Italians occupied the territory until the formation of the Turkish Republic in 1923.
Antalya has a rich historical and cultural background, which is still evident in the city. The old town in is known as Kaleiçi and is made up of narrow, winding alleys enveloped by the old city walls. The main entrance to the old town is through the old Hadrianus Gate, which as the name suggests was constructed under the orders of the Roman Emperor Hadrianus. Close to the old town there is an interesting archaeological museum and some impressive historic buildings and old ruins like the splendid Roman Aspendos Theatre. Other incredible sites include the 2nd century Kesik Minare, which means the Broken Minaret, which was originally a Roman temple, then a Byzantine church and finally a mosque. In 1361 it reverted back to a church under the rule of the crusader king of Cyprus. Finally it returned to being a mosque but was burnt to the ground in 1846 and only the minaret survived. Another great mosque in the area is the 13th century Yivli Minare Mosque known in Turkish as Ulu Camii. It was one of the city’s first Muslim buildings and its 38 m tall, navy blue tiled minaret dominates the skyline. Culture vultures will love the Antalya Archeological Museum, which is one of the biggest in the country and is home to 13 exhibition halls and an open air gallery 5,000 works of art. The city is also home to the Suna & İnan Kıraç Kaleiçi Museum, which is located in two historic buildings in the old town. The buildings themselves are of great historic interest; the first being a traditional two-story house with all of the trimmings of an authentic Antalyan interior and garden.
This is a city with so much to offer tourists a week would never be enough to cover the entertainment spots alone. The Karaalıoğlu Park allows for some great recreation and is home to the old Hidirlik Tower fortress overlooks the old Roman harbour, whilst the Yacht Harbour is home to many traditional fishing boats. The city is fantastic for shopping and it is well worth checking out the 5M mall and Deepo Outlet Centre. If you are looking for vibrant nightlife, head up to Tünek Tepe, a hill on the west side of the city with spectacular views across the gulf and towards the Taurus Mountains. It also has a night club, hotel and rotating restaurant on the top. Another relaxing for of entertainment is a cruise on the Med particularly if you take the much calmer morning cruise. There are plenty of good restaurants in this city with the Antalya Balikevi serving the best seafood and there is also a good choice of nightlife including bars with waterpipes and live music and plenty of clubs playing a vast selection of modern music. In terms of beaches, Konyaalti is the place to hang out and at night the park area is home to much life and action. Other great beaches in the area include Lara and Karpuzkaldiran. If you want to cool off head to the waterfalls of Duden, Kursunlu and Manavgat.