The settlement of Antalya and its environs stretches back to the dawn of humanity however as attested to by Palaeolithic finds discovered in the nearby Karain and Beldibi caves and Early Bronze Age finds discovered at Semahoyuk. Today it is part of Turkey’s “Gold Coast”, an exquisite land of sun, sea, and history.
In 133 B.C. Antalya, together Pergamon’s other possessions in Asia Minor, were taken over by Rome. Antalya (or “Attalia” as the Bible calls it) is where Paul set sail from together with Barnabas on his first missionary journey: “They passed through Pisidia and reached Pamphylia. Then after proclaiming the word at Perge they went down to Attalia and from there sailed for Antioch…” Acts xiv 24-26). In 130 A.D., Hadrian visited the city during the peregrinations of his empire and to this, we owe the monumental arch (7) built in his honor. During Byzantine times Antalya was an archdiocese. Following the Seljuk capture of the city, Antalya continued to be an important commercial and military port.
Because the modern city sits atop the remains of its predecessors, very little remains of old Antalya. Of the fortifications that once surrounded the city, only Hidirlik tower is still standing. Hadrian’s Gate, as we have said, was originally constructed as a victory arch. Kesik (“cut-off”) minaret and Yivli (“fluted” or “grooved”) minaret are works from the reign of Alaeddin Keykubad I (1219-1236). The former is located on the site of a temple from the 2nd century A.D. while the latter has become a symbol of modern Antalya. Another of the architectural works of importance in Antalya is the Karatay medresse, built during the reign of the same sultan. The ancient castle overlooking the ancient harbor with its old houses nestled inside is worth exploring and the Antalya Museum is a must for anyone interested in this regions art and history.
The area around Antalya is full of places from which one-day trips may be made to ancient Lycian, Pisidian, and Pamphylian sites: Termessos, located amidst the lofty peaks above Antalya; Perge located 17 kilometers, Aspendos located 40 kilometers, and Side located 80 kilometers along the road to Alanya; cities like Selge and Syllion located somewhat inland are but a few examples. In the direction of Kemer is Phaselis, a marvelous archaeological site where one may enjoy the ruins in the atmosphere of a seaside pine forest. In addition, there are a number of scenic spots of natural beauty such as the waterfalls at Duden, Kursunlu, and Manavgat, which are a delight to visit on a hot, Mediterranean summer day.