Situated on Turkey’s south west Mediterranean coast line, a region that has been famously dubbed as the ‘Turkish Riviera’ or the ‘Turquoise Coast’, the city of Antalya is a an intriguing mix of modern cultures and ancient history. The Old Town harbor and cobbled stone market sit door to door with wide boulevards and high street shops and within a few kilometres you can find examples of Roman structures, Ottoman architecture, stylish eateries, traditional cafes and a giant shopping mall boasting top 21st century brands. This particular city is a fantastic combination of history, culture and natural beauty. Jump on an Antalya Tour to get a taste for what this stunning region has to offer.
A Brief History
Antalya has been a popular destination as early as the 1st century BC when King Attalos II of Pergamon arrived and made the coastal city his naval base. Since then the Antalya has been continually inhabited and the city boasts an impressive guest book: Romans, Byzantines, Seljuk Turks and Ottomans were just some of the major influences on development of Antalya. Under Roman rule Antalya flourished into a prosperous city and capital of the region, Christianity dominated until the arrival of the Ottoman Empire when minarets began to appear across the skyline. During the first world war Antalya was occupied by Italy, and was not returned to Turkey until 1923 when the Republic was born. Today Antalya is one of Turkey’s top destinations, it hosts a large British expat community and countless holiday accommodations.
The Old Sites…
As you wander through the quaint streets of Antalya’s ancient inner citadel, now known as Kaleici or Old Town, you will notice many historical structures hidden among colourful souvenir stores and vibrant handicraft stalls. The entrance to the Old Town is marked by a set of 3 richly decorated stone arches, the Hadrian’s gate was named in honor the Roman Emperor himself who visited the city in 130 AD. Walk under the ancient bricks to an Ottoman Clock Tower which looms above the surrounding cafe’s, the impressive monument dominates the square on which it sits and even dwarfs its neighbour, the 18th century Tekeli Mehmet Pasa Mosque. This particular square is also a charming meeting point and coffee spot, ideal for people watching and soaking in the mediterranean sunshine.
Once you’ve eaten in one of the tasty restaurants you can begin exploring again. The Old town is a bit of a maze but you should be able to find your way to the Hidirlik Tower, the Broken Minaret and the Antalya Museum which boasts an extensive collection of artifacts from Turkey’s Anatolian region, dating as far back as the Palaeolithic period. Even if you’re not into history it is still worth taking a walk through Antalya’s coastal park towards the museum. You will be rewarded with magnificent views along this dazzling coastline.
And the new…
Leaving behind Kaleici, you can take a walk through Antalya’s bustling commercial centre, along the main pedestrian walkway are a number of elegant restaurants and quirky cafes with diverse menus and fast WiFi. Independent fashion stalls spill out onto the sidewalk between Hadrian’s Gate and one of Antalya residents favorite multi-level shopping malls, MarkAntalya. A shopaholics paradise. The mall functions as a central point of the city and buses to most neighbourhoods stop along the busy avenue. You might want to hop on a local bus going to Duden Falls. A botanical haven on the outskirts of the urban jungle. The park is a fantastic spot to grab some Turkish ice cream and relax alongside gorgeous natural beauty.
If you’re in Antalya for the weekend don’t miss Sunday’s famous farmers market. With locals traveling from some the region’s most rural villages to sell their goods, from fruit and veg, to meats and fish to olives, nuts, jams and wines. It’s certainly an event that shouldn’t be missed.
Outside The City…
Not just Antalya but the entire country is a contrast of historical sites, stylish cities and flashy resort towns. Turkey has played host to some of the oldest civilisation in the world and if history is what draws you to the country then you will definitely want to check out some of the Anatolia regions top sights. The ancient ruined cities of Termessos, Perge and Aspendos are all located within 40 kilometers of Antalya. Traveling further afield you could visit some of the Lycian sites such as Phaselis and Patara, or jump on an Olympos to Cappadocia Tour to journey through the Taurus mountain range to Turkey’s interior plateau and ‘Land of beautiful horses’.