Kaleiçi is known as the Old Antalya because it was the Antalya until modern times. The city expanded and became the Antalya we know afterwords. Kaleiçi started out as being a town of the Roman Empire. Later on, it became a town in the Byzantine Empire, followed by Seljuk Turks and then finally became a town in the Ottoman Empire. Seeing so many empires rise and fall, Kaleiçi is a rich harbor of history. Kaleiçi has its own character with huge stone walls surrounding the area as well as old houses and narrow streets. Even though there are people living in these old houses, most of them have been turned into boutique hotels where you can stay.
OLD ROMAN HARBOR
What makes Antalya, Antalya and such a special place is its harbor. No matter which empire took over the city, the harbor would be the center of it. In the Roman Empire era, it was a popular and frequently used port in the Mediterranean. The Old Roman Harbor is, as you can imagine, located in Kaleiçi, where the real Antalya is. Of course, the harbor changed in its nature and use over the years. Nowadays, it holds private yachts and gulets for cruising. The surroundings of the harbor have many restaurants and cafes where both locals and tourists enjoy a cup of coffee or tea while watching the view.
ANTALYA ARCHEOLOGICAL MUSEUM
Antalya Archeological Museum holds many different objects most of which were found in Antalya. In the Natural History Hall, you can see fossils and bones of certain animals or shells. Pre-History Hall has many items from different ages. Most of these items are tools made from bone and stone. There is also a famous woman figure found in this hall. Another hall contains ceramic and other small objects such as jewelry. Mosaic Hall has many mosaics found in Lycia, Xanthos and Seleukeia along with statues. Heads and Portraits Hall has many heads carved out of marble that depict ancient men and women. The hall that attracts the most attention and remains in memory the most is the Emperors and Gods Hall. Statues of many important emperors of the ancient world can be found in this hall as well as the statues of Greek gods such as Apollo, Artemis, Athena and Medusa. Icons Hall has many icons depicting the Last Judgement, Jesus, the Ascension of Mary and the life of John the Baptist. Hall of Coins includes many coins from the ancient world as well as the Middle Ages and the modern period. Another hall is the Islamic Period Works Hall where many objects from the Seljuk and Ottoman periods can be found.
YİVLİ MİNARE MOSQUE
Yivli Minare Mosque is a mosque located in Kaleiçi and built during the Seljuk era by Sultan Alaaddin Keykubat I in 1230. It is not only a mosque but a part of a complex that has medreses, lodges and vaults. The minaret that became a symbol of the city is 38 meters in height with 90 steps to climb the top and it is standing independent from the mosque. Unfortunately, the original mosque was destroyed and a new one was built in 1373.
Hadrian’s Gate is one of the gates that lead to Kaleiçi. It is also known as the Triple Gate due to its structure with three archways. Hadrian’s Gate gets its name from a Roman Emperor named Hadrian who visited the city. It was built in 130 AD after Emperor Hadrian’s visit to commemorate it. The Hadrian’s Gate has become an important landmark in the city with its mesmerizing Roman architecture with marble columns.
Hıdırlık Tower is located right beside Kaleiçi. It was built in the 2nd century CE. It was first built as a square structure yet it was turned into a circular one later on. It has been used as a lighthouse as well as a fortress.
Aspendos is an ancient city founded by Greeks possibly coming from Argos. It is believed that Aspendos was the most important city in the 5th century BCE. Aspendos is known for trading oil, salt and wool which were important sources of their wealth at the time. After the Greeks, Persians captured the city of Apendosin 411 BCE. Even Alexander the Great reached Aspendos in 333 BCE. Aspendos finally was taken over by the Romans in 190 BCE. After all its fame and importance, Aspendos lost its old shine during the Byzantine Empire era. Aspendos is most famous for having the best-preserved antique theater in the entire world. This theater was built in 155 BCE and able to hold 12.000 people. Aspendos is indeed so well-preserved thatThe Aspendos International Opera and Ballet Festival is held annually in this place for those who would like to enjoy arts while being enchanted by the beauty of the antiquity.
Termessos is an ancient, Pisidian city located in Antalya. This ancient city looks like it is out of this world being surrounded by forests. It was founded by the Solims. It is one of the best-preserved ancient cities in Turkey. Termessos is mentioned by Alexander the Great who surrounded the city back in 333 BCE yet was not able to take it over. He said that the city was like an eagle’s nest. Termessos came to its end when an earthquake hit the city and destroyed its water supply. The citizens abandoned the city after the incident and the city remained abandoned. Termessos also has an ancient theater. It is the structure that draws attention the most in this ancient city. The architecture of the theater carries the elements of the Roman period. The theater was able to hold 5.000 people.
Perge is a city founded by Greeks after the Trojan War approximately around 1200 BCE. This information is mot likely true due to Trojan War hero names found on one of the gates: Kalchas, Mopsos, Machaon, Riksos, Minyasas and Leonteus. It is also believed that in the surrounding areas, Hittites had- lived before Greeks came around. Persians ruled the city until Alexander the Great arrived in 333 BCE. After many empires claimed and ruled the city over many centuries, Perge finally came under the rule of the Roman Empire and had its golden age at last. Many structures were built and fortifications were strengthened. The population steadily grew with all of the improvements made in the city. Perge is known to be one of the first cities where Christian missionaries tried to convert the non-believers. In fact, the Apostle Paul came to Perge around 50 CE. Artemis worshippers were the ones mostly lived in Perge. When Constantine the Great took over the city, it became a Christian center. After a pirate attack, the city fell and its residents moved to central Antalya. Therefore, the city was abandoned.
Konyaaltı Beach is the closest beach to the city center and the longest with a 6 kilometers coastline in Antalya. Konyaaltı Beach is a public beach which means you can enjoy it without paying any entrance fee. Despite being a public beah it is preferred frequently due to its cleanliness and being easily accessible.
Düden Waterfalls are quite famous locations in Turkey where tourists would like to visit each year. There are two waterfalls: Upper Düden Waterfall and Lower Düden Waterfall. Both waterfalls are astounding for the visitors. Losing yourself in nature and relaxing with the sound of the waterfall may be a great activity after all.
Karain Cave is actually an archeological site that dates back to the Paleolithic age. The cave is a complex one with three main chambers as well as corridors. These rooms are separated by calcite walls. There are many narrow curves and passageways. Karain Cave has been home to many artifacts, bones and fossils. A piece of a Neanderthal cranium was found in the cave that belongs to 150.000 - 200.000 years ago. The carvings and inscriptions in the cave suggest a religious function of the cave during the Iron Age. In addition to these, there were many arrowheads, scrapers and flint blades that were discovered in the cave. The Museum of Anatolian Civilizations displays the artifacts found in the Karain Cave if you are interested in seeing them.
Phaselis is an ancient city in Antalya and known to be the oldest settlements in the area. It was founded in 693 BCE. Phaselis was an important port of its time, therefore it was improved. The ancient city is surrounded by trees that give off the atmosphere of the place being unearthly. Phaselis was first a part of the Lycian Union however, it then was invaded by the pirates. Later on, with the coming of the Romans, the age of pirates was over. There are baths and theaters found in the ancient city although this city as not as well-preserved as some other ancient cities found in Antalya.
KÖPRÜLÜ CANYON NATIONAL PARK
Köprülü Canyon National Park is a great place to enjoy all sorts of activities in one place from doing water sports to hiking, from exploring the ancient cities to enjoying nature itself. The canyon is 14 km long and reaches 400 meters in height, it is, in fact, one of the longest canyons in Turkey. The national park is located quite high on the mountains. In the Köprülü Canyon National Park, you will see the Oluk Bridge above the river that is an example of Roman architecture, dating back to the second century CE. The largest cypress forest in the Asia Minor is located in the Köprülü Canyon National Park. One of the ancient cities located in the Köprülü Canyon National Park is Selge antique city which you might want to explore. You can also do rafting on the river beside the Köprülü Canyon.