History of Antalya
Antalya was originally founded by King Attalus II of Pergamon around 150 BC and was called Attalia for the King. It soon became part of the Roman Empire and prospered until the fall of Constantinople. The Seljuk Turks captured the city in 1207 which fell to the Ottomans in the mid 1300’s.
It remained under Ottoman control until World War I when the city was briefly given to Italy before the Turkish Republic recaptured Antalya during the War of Independence.
Had I realized all its history I might not have been surprised about the size of the city. Antalya is the fifth most populous city in Turkey and the largest on the Mediterranean Coast. A larger international sea resort, Antalya attracts many tourists. I suppose I would have known more had I planned to visit Antalya on my own, but instead I took a two-week tour with G Adventures, a budget minded National Geographic Company.
Where to Stay
While we visited Antalya, we stayed at Hotel Argos in the old city, Kaleiçi. While it was very conveniently located, reasonably priced, and had the first comfy bed during my stay in Turkey, a Karaoke bar with EXTREMELY loud music a few blocks away made sleeping difficult even with earplugs. As a result, when staying in Kaleiçi, I recommend selecting hotels near popular venues very carefully!
Antalya has a variety of historic sites, several restaurants, lots of shopping, a nice harbor, and a choice of beaches. Below is a list of things to do in Antalya.
Stroll the Streets of Kaleiçi
Kaleiçi is definitely the best place to stay in Antalya. The old cities charm is lovely and strolling the winding streets lined with restaurants and shops is very enjoyable. The streets vary. Some are nice, while others are eclectic, but that what makes it fun for shoppers, diners and photographers alike.
Eat at The Castle
The biggest draw to the Castle Café & Bistro is the view of the Gulf on Antalya. The restaurants features an enormous outdoor patio and a huge menu. It is a great place to take in the sunset while choosing from a variety of Mediterranean dishes. The service is good, with some English-speaking staff which is always a plus!
Explore the Harbor
The harbor is located below Kaleiçi. Take in the views and then walk down the stairs to check out the boats which range from small fishing vessels to big tourist transports. Along the way, don’t miss the locals who sell seafood and pose for pictures with bunny rabbits. I always find it interesting to see the different ways individuals try to make a living.
Visit the Historic Sites
Antalya has a few historic sites remaining including the Hadrian’s Gate and the Clock Tower. The Clock Tower is the only remaining tower of 80 from the citadel that once protected the old city. It is located on the edge of Kaleiçi and the more modern part of the city.
Hadrian’s Gate is a triumphal arch built for the Roman Emperor Hadrian who visited Antalya in 130. It is considered the most beautiful Gate in Pamphylia, a region of the former Asia Minor. Legend has it that the Queen of Sheeba passed through the gate on her way to visit King Solomon in Aspendos.
Take a Side Trip to Aspendos
Speaking of Aspendos, consider a side trip to this UNESCO World Heritage Site which is only about 25 miles east of Antalya. There are many tours offered to see the old theater and aqueduct. We stopped by the aqueduct on the way into Antalya after our time in Konya.
After snapping a few photos, we tried Turkish pancakes at Kadirin Yeri. I would have never known to stop at this roadside gem that stuffs giant tortillas with cheese and spinach and serves excellent juices. One order is enough for two people, and they are delicious. I love visiting local places like this.
Go to the Beach
Another place that is long walk (5 miles) or short taxi ride from Antalya is Konyaalti Beach. The pebbly Konyaalti Beach stretches a little over four miles, and is dotted with restaurants, clubs and hotels. While this is the closest beach to Antalya, there are several in the area with Lara Beach being the next closest.
During the shoulder season in March, the weather was a bit cold and rainy for our time in Antalya, so the beach wasn’t too conducive for a visit, but in the summer-time it is a major attraction for Mediterranean cities like Antalya.
Antalya is a great getaway for a weekend and the Mediterranean Coast warrants a much longer stay. ETB
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