Antalya – one of the most interesting cities in Turkey enchants its visitors with ancient treasures, beautiful beaches and cultural diversity. Antalya is located in the southwest of Anatolia and is not only one of the most beautiful cities in the country, but also the largest on the Mediterranean coast. The entire province is also called Antalya and is located on the so-called Turkish Riviera.
The region was settled as early as the 12th century BC and until today you can trace its varied history. Ancient sites and ruins, old city walls, towers and minarets and archaeological finds await visitors to Antalya. Here, history is brought back to life.
Antalya is at the same time a very modern and cultured city. Large shopping centers delight as much as the old bazaar, traditional and international food is perfected in stylish restaurants, and annual cultural events delight young and old alike. Antalya offers a perfect potpourri of modernity and tradition.
Tip 1: Hadrian Gate
Undoubtedly, one of the most famous buildings of Antalya, a tourist metropolis located on the Turkish Riviera, is the impressive Hadrian’s Gate (Hadrian Kapisi). The inhabitants of the city erected the structure in 139 A.D. to honorably commemorate the visit of the Roman Emperor Hadrian nine years earlier. The praising inscription on the gate was written in Latin.
The massive gate located at Atatürk Caddesi is said to be the only remaining entrance gate to the ancient city of Antalya as well as to the port. On both sides of Hadrian’s Gate, the long city wall once ran its course. Today, however, due to the way it was built, there is no longer a clear front to be seen. Overall, the structure resembles more a Roman triumphal arch and has less the characteristic features of a typical gate.
The gate stands on four bases and two arches, one of which can be assigned to the Roman period and the other to the Seljuk period. Also, of the two remaining towers to the right and left of Hadrian’s Gate, one is from the Roman period and one from the Seljuk period. The three different entrances are composed of Corinthian columns decorated with elaborate ornaments.
Tip 2: Hıdırlık-Tower
Hidirlik Tower (Turkish: Hıdırlık Kulesi) is a prominent tower made of yellowish-brown stone in Antalya, Turkey. It is the site of the Kaleiçi and Karaalioglu parks. It is believed that the ruling Roman Empire in the second century A.D. Built it in a square plan. In the same century it was transformed into a round tower.
Since then it has been used as a fortress or a lighthouse. The tower is located on the southern side of Kaleiçi and the land wall of the city is connected to the shore wall.
The 14 meters high building consists of a round tower on a square base. In the upper part there are remains of restoration works from Seljuk and Ottoman periods.
The Hıdırlık Tower is one of the historical buildings like Hadrian’s Gate, the fluted Yivli Minare Minaret and the Clock Tower (Saat Kulesi) has become an inseparable symbol of Antalya.
Tip 3: Old Town Antalya
In the picturesque old town of Antalya, also known as Kaleici, history comes to life. From the Hellenistic era to the Roman era, the former rulers left visible traces. Today, Kaleici is one of the most popular city attractions, which immediately enchants its visitors with its oriental ambience.
The old town is the pulsating heart of Antalya, equally interesting for history and culture lovers. Breathtaking buildings such as Hadrian’s Gate, Yivli Minare Mosque, Mevlevihane Museum, Ottoman-style houses, winding alleys and much more, will take you on a journey into the past. By the way, Kaleici is one of the oldest settlements in Anatolia. The most beautiful part of the old town are the pretty houses in the quaint streets, which still carry a touch of Seljuk and Ottoman architecture.
In the course of time, the old city was exposed to fires, floods and other external influences. It has never lost any of its beauty. Due to its excellent location by the sea and the growing trade, Antalya grew into an important port city. Different rulers gave the old town a new appearance again and again — even today the different architectural styles are well recognizable.
Since the 1980s, Kaleici and the old harbor area have been among the most popular tourist attractions in Turkey. Since that time, the district has been lovingly restored to preserve its uniqueness for future generations.
Tip 3: Düden Waterfall
From a spring in the west of the Taurus Mountains rise the small rivers Kirkgozler and Pinarabasi, about 30 km from Antalya. They flow further downstream, where they meet and merge with the Düden River. On its 30-kilometer journey to the booming center of Turkey’s Rivera Antalya, it plunges underground in the Biyiki karst vent. At Düdenbasi, the head of Düden, it reappears in its full glory. Over several streams it plunges bubbling over the edge of the cliffs into the depths, until the water is caught by a turquoise blue basin and flows on. The “upper Düden waterfall” is one of the most impressive waterfalls in the province of Antalya. This is also appreciated by many city dwellers. On free days they escape from the hectic flow in the big city to wash off their daily stress at the waterfall. A drizzle blows from the falls, which is very welcome as a refreshing drizzle shower on hot days.
The waterfall, northeast of central Antalya, integrates into a naturally landscaped park, Düden-başi Piknik Alani. In this quiet urban oasis you can picnic with all the comfort. At the foot of the waterfall, tables and benches under trees offer shady spots. If you feel like taking a walk, it is worth admiring the water curtain from different perspectives. The minerals of volcanic rocks assembled in the water formed many caves over the centuries and formed the river bed. Gently walk through a small cave landscape without much effort. Behind the waterfall you can watch the hustle and bustle of the park through a rushing waterfall. Take the opportunity – make a wish! In the wishing cave below you can make your wishes.
Tip 4: Archaeological Museum
The excellent Antalya Archaeological Museum (Antalya Müzesi), located 3 kilometers west of Kalekapısı, is a must-see for anyone interested in the rich archaeological history of Turkey’s Mediterranean coast.
The modern province of Antalya includes dozens of important ancient Hellenic and Roman cities and villages, as well as other world-class archaeological sites. Most of the best cultural relics were brought here and form the museum’s outstanding collection. The treasure of cultural relics of the museum ranges from Paleolithic to Bronze Age, Classical (Ancient Greece and Rome), Byzantium, Seljuk Turkey and Ottoman – in short, Anatolia’s incredible history the entire length.
Antalya Museum has 2 floors and 14 exhibition halls covering more than 30,000 square meters. Sculptures and other artifacts are displayed in indoor and outdoor galleries. The museum’s exhibitions are arranged chronologically and thematically.
Tip 5: Yivli Minare Mosque
One of the biggest sights in the tourist center of Antalya on the Turkish Riviera is the impressive Yivli Minare Mosque, which is located on Dr. B. Onat Cad. The place of worship dominates the entire cityscape and can be seen from almost every square in Antalya.
The mosque, which owes its name to the furrowed minaret (Yivli Minare), was built in 1373 on the foundations of the Ulu Cami mosque, which dates back to 1207 and was devastated during the Lusignan domination, according to the inscription still preserved in the east gate. For this reason, the Yivli Minare Mosque is sometimes referred to as Ulu Cami today.
The 38 meters high minaret Yivli Minare, which was probably completed around 1226/ 1227, still belongs to the previous mosque and is today one of the most important landmarks of Antalya. The fluted, columnar minaret, some of whose bricks are decorated with blue tiles, was probably built by order of the Seljuk Sultan Alaeddin Keykubat I. The mosque has a total of about 1,200 square meters.
In total, the mosque, which can be considered an exemplary example of Anatolian architecture, has six domes perched on arches supported by twelve Roman columns. Also included in the Yivli Minare Mosque complex are the Zincir Kiran Türbesi Mausoleum, a madrasa, an Islamic scholarly institution, and the Nigar Hanim Türbesi Mausoleum.