Antalya: The Tourism Capital
With ancient cities hidden among forests with oxygen-rich air, Antalya is a holiday paradise offering much more than one might expect.
Antalya was founded in 158-138 BC by Attalus II, King of Pergamon, who named the city Attaleia after himself. Having been inhabited continuously since then, it was encircled by strong protective walls in Roman times. The Byzantines and Seljuks successively occupied the city before it came under Ottoman rule.
"Antalya is situated at the end of a gulf, the namesake of the city, and extends over a green plateau that lies parallel to the sea. With its blue sea, luminous sky, the ever-changing colour of its mountains and lush green vegetation, the city is a festival of colours."
Today it is one of the world's best-loved tourist resorts, with numerous five-star hotels, holiday villages and entertainment establishments. Besides the chances Antalya offers for skiing on the mountains and then descending to the shore for a swim, the proximity of a great number of archaeological sites and ruins enhances its appeal. There are great works of art from different civilizations at every corner of the city. In the picturesque old quarter of Kaleiçi, narrow, winding streets and old wooden houses abut the ancient city walls. When Emperor Hadrian visited Phaselis in Antalya in 130 AD, a beautifully-decorated three arched gate with Corinthian columns was built into the city walls in his honour. It was the only entrance through the city walls. The two towers flanking the gate, as well as other sections of the walls, are standing near the marina.
The clock tower in Kalekapısı Square was also part of the old city’s towers. The elegant, fluted minaret of the Yivli Minaret Mosque at the centre of the city, built by the Seljuk Sultan Alaeddin Keykubat in the 13th century, has become Antalya’s symbol. The Karatay Madrasah in the Kaleiçi district, from the same period, exemplifies the best of Seljuk stone carving.
The two most important Ottoman mosques in the city are the 16th-century Murat Paşa Mosque, remarkable for its tile decoration, and the 18th-century Tekeli Mehmet Paşa Mosque. Neighbouring the marina, the attractive late 19th-century İskele Mosque is built of cut stone and set on four pillars over a natural spring. The Hıdırlık Kulesi (tower) was probably constructed as a lighthouse in the second century. The Kesik Minaret Mosque, which was previously a church, bears witness to the city’s long history. The major part of the southern coastline falls within the borders of the city of Antalya. With ancient cities hidden among the trees, lush-green plateaus and forests with oxygen-rich air, trekking routes and beautiful beaches, Antalya is a holiday paradise offering much more than one might expect.