Because of the archaeological and natural riches of the area, Antalya is also known as the Turkish Riviera. The sun, sea, nature and history combine to form a very popular resort, highlighted by some of the cleanest beaches in the Mediterranean.
The 630km shoreline of the province is liberally scattered with ancient cities, harbours, memorial tombs and beaches, secluded coves and lush forests, many of which are easily accessible from the city.
With its palm-lined boulevard, internationally-acclaimed marina, and old castle with traditional architecture, all set amidst a modern city, Antalya is a major tourist centre in Turkey.
In addition to the wide selection of hotels, restaurants, bars, nightclubs and shops, the city also plays host to a number of sporting events throughout the year, like international beach volleyball, triathlon, golf tournaments, archery, tennis and canoeing competitions.
The Cultural Centre, which opened in 1995, hosts cultural and art events in the fields of music, theatre, and creative arts. The main area of interest in the city is central old quarter within the Roman walls, known as Kaleici, and there are many good museums.
In Antalya, there are shopping malls that the foreign or local tourist could find lots of thing. The city is famous for its jams and jellies made from every fruit and vegetable imaginable. The most interesting ones are the eggplant, watermelon, bergamot and turunc jellies.
There are also souvenirs and gift items particular to Turkey in the shops of the Ministry of Tourism and the Ministry of Culture and the shops in the old city. The area is famous for its Dosemealti carpets coloured with natural root dyes.
What to see in Antalya
Today the historical old city of Antalya known as Kaleici (the inner castle) is surrounded by two walls, most of which have fallen down. The inner wall encloses the harbour in a semicircle. As a result of restoration, Kaleici has turned into a major tourist centre with guest-houses, bars, shops and restaurants, and the Roman harbour has been turned into a modern, well-equipped marina. As a result of the restoration work, the Ministry of Tourism was awarded the Golden Apple (Tourism Oscar) in April 1984 by FIJET.
Founded in 1922 by Suleyman Fikri Erten and housed first in the Alaaddin Mosque in the old city and then in the Yivli Minaret, the museum was later moved to its current location 2 km further east. The museum consists of 12 exhibition rooms, gardens and open galleries. In these halls the history of Antalya is given in chronological order, starting with fossils, through the Stone and Bronze ages, then through the classical and Hellenistic periods. There are mosaics, the Gallery of the Gods, Phrygian ornaments, and a room with Christian art that includes pieces of the skull and jawbone of St Nicholas, the original Santa Claus. The ethnography section has a collection of Iznik ceramics, household implements and weapons.
Museum Tel:(+90-242) 238 56 88-89
The City Walls
What remained today, is a few bastions inside the city as well as Hadrian’s Gate and its towers, the large tower facing the harbour and a few pieces of the harbour walls. One of the wall surrounds the yacht harbour and the other the city, almost like horseshoe. One of the remaining towers in the Castle Gate Square is now used as a clock tower. There are four gates in the city walls, which form entrances to the city.
The only city gate to have survived until the present day is the most attractive of the Pamphylia: Uckapilar (Three Gates), also known as Hadrian’s Gate, which is guarded by one tower on either side.
Built to honour the emperor Hadrian’s visit to the city in 130 AD, the whole gate, except for the columns, is made of pure white marble. The reliefs and carvings are extraordinary.
Old Houses of Antalya
With its hot summers and mild winters, the houses in Antalya are designed to provide protection not against the chill of winter but against the merciless heat of summer. The stone overhangs and courtyards help provide air circulation.
The houses in Antalya can be divided into three types based upon the design of the main hall, which also serves as a storage area. The three types are I halls, L halls and U halls. In the design of these houses, great attention was paid to meeting the necessities of daily life, while also providing harmony with nature and the environment.
Excursions around Antalya
Situated 18 km east of Antalya, Perge is in the city limits of Aksu Bucagi. Because of its location on the Cilicia – Pisidia road, it was a vital part of the province of Pamphylia, and was founded around the same time as the other cities in the area (7th century BC).
It was an important city for Christians of Perge who had worshipped the mother goddess Artemis. St. Paul and Barnabas visited the city and wealthy benefactors like Magna Plancia had a number of important memorials built here.
The ruined city of Termessos, lying 34km west of Antalya in a rugged mountain valley, was founded by the Solymi people, from the interior of Anatolia. Among the important remains are, the 4200-seat theatre and the Roman stele that Augustus had built at the beginning of the first century AD.
The Odeon, the covered meeting hall, has seating for 600 people. The five inter-connecting underground cisterns were used for the storage of water and olive oil.
Lying between Kemer and Adrasan is the ancient harbour village of Cirali, the ruins of Olympos and the site of the Chimaera. The history of Olympos dates back to the 2nd century BC when it was an important Lycian city, although it was empty by the 6th century.
The Olympians worshipped Hephaestos (Vulcan) the god of fire, probably connected to the eternal flame, or Chimaera, which still emerges from the mountain.
The ancient remains of Ariassos, around 50km from Antalya, are located on a slope and contain baths and rock tombs.
On the coast, 60km south of Antalya, Phaselis was founded by the Rhodians in the 7th century BC, and was known as the most important seaport in Eastern Lycia. On the west of the city is Hadrian’s Gate, with shops and baths on either side. The city is accessible both by road and sea.
Believed to have been in existence since the 5th century, Limyra is still in existence despite a massive earthquake in the mid 19th century although was emptied in the 7th and 9th centuries after the Arab invasions. The city, which is 11km south, composes of three section; the acropolis, areas of settlement, and necropolis.
Excavations of this city reveal that it probably existed from the 5th century BC, and controlled much of the Arycanda valley. Having survived a destructive earthquake in 240 AD, the city maintained its prominence until the 11th century, and its most important structures still survive today.
Demre was one of the most important cities of the Lycian civilisation. 25km west of Finike and 48km east of Kas, Demre was a place of settlement from the 5th century BC.
The city was deserted in 9 A.D after the invasions of the Arabs. Rock tombs, theatres and the Church of St. Nicholas (said to be the original Santa Claus) are the most interesting sites in the town today.
Receiving its beauty from its history, sea and sun, Simena is accessible from Ucagiz. The submerged city and the ancient remains at the opposite island of Kekova island, makes it a worthwhile trip.
There are traces of Roman and other civilisations in Simena, the history of which dates back to Lycian civilisation. There is a small theatre carved into the rock, and Roman city walls.
The ancient city, 48km east of Antalya, is most famous for its theatre, probably the best preserved in Asia Minor. It is still in use today, and stages the annual Aspendos Opera and Ballet Festival every summer. It was the scene of a huge bloody battle between the Persians and the Greeks in 469 BC, and then ruled by the Spartans 120 years later.
The city became part of the Seleucid kingdom after the death of Alexander the Great, and then became part of the Roman province of Asia in 133 BC.
The famous theatre was built in the 2nd century AD, using a Roman design, and it is still intact. Ataturk was responsible for much of the restoration, who declared that it should be used as a theatre rather than simply a museum after his visit.
In addition to the theatre, there is an acropolis on a hilltop, of which the nymphaeum and basilica are still fairly intact.
Opening hours: Summer 08.00 – 19.00; Winter 08.00 – 17.30.
It is between Kaş-Demre. It is an ancient submerged city 500 m far from the Üçağız Village in Mediterranean.
It is on Kalkan-Fethiye road,nearly 10 km before Kalkan and is located at the south.. The colorful ceramics in the center of the city reveal that the history of the city reaches back to 5 B.C. Besides its being the birth place of St. Nicholas,it was one of the most important seaports during the times of Alexander the Great.
Three gated city walls,one of which leads to Patara, was constructed by the governor Modestus in 110 . One of the most important remnants is the theater currently buried under the crystal clear sandy beaches of Patara.
Founded on the Xanthos river basin,Xanthos is the biggest and the most ancient city of Lycia. Having being remained independent till the invasions of the Persians in 4292 B.C,Xanthos tried hard to defend against the invasions;however, upon realizing the remote victory the people of Xanthos first murdered their women then commited suicide as a whole.
Afterwards 80 family imigrating to the region refounded the city but approximately 100 years later the city was totally destroyed by a great fire. Reesatblished city thenceforth strengtened its connection with west and became an important center.
Still the city can not be saved from misfortune. Upon resisting to the taxes of the Roman Brutus, the city was ruined and the people were dragged into war. And Xanthos became the city of catastrophe.
The city was founded around center of Lycia and outside it, were the remnants of Roman city center. Roman theater and the findings at the west side of the theater still attracts the visitors. Harpy memorial on the rocks is one of the most important traces.
Only the duplication of the work of art, the original of which is on exhibit in British Museum in England,can be seen in the region.
One of the Lycian towns, Kaş took its name from the Greek word “Phellos” meaning stony place. With its well preserved rock tombs and theater, Kaş is a wonderful town on the Mediterranean coast.
How to Get to Antalya
By Road : Antalya is easily accessed from most parts of the country, and the main bus station (Yeni Garaj) is 4km in north of the city centre. Major routes include Istanbul (12 hours), Fethiye (8 hours), Izmir (9 hours) and Goreme (10 hours). The best route from Istanbul and Ankara is through Afyon and Burdur. In addition to the large buses and long-distance journeys, which leave from the Sehirlerarasi Terminali, there are also dolmus services to places like Kas, Alanya, Olympos and Side, from the Ilceler Terminali, although these are not air-conditioned. Most bus companies have a free shuttle service from the bus station into the city centre.
Tel: (0242) 331 12 50 / 513 26 50
Fax: (0242) 331 11 81.
By Rail : The nearest station is at Burdur.
By Air : Antalya airport is 10km east of the city centre, and has direct flights from Tel Aviv and Zurich. It is well connected to other parts of Turkey, and in summer has eight daily direct flights from Istanbul and two from Ankara.
Tel: (0242) 330 32 33. 330 3600.
Fax: (0242) 330 31 30
By Boat : The marina is one of the most important in Turkey, and the Kaleici certainly one of the most photographed, lying at the foot of the old part of the city. Apart from private yachts sailing in from all over the world, there are passenger ferries to Girne (Northern Cyprus) and Rhodes.
Turkish Maritime Lines
Tel: (0242) 241 11 20.
Fax: 247 50 95
Tel: (0242) 243 47 50.
Fax: 243 47 54
Tel: (0242) 259 12 00