Ancient Antalya

Ancient Antalya – The pearl of the Mediterranean. The province of Antalya is situated on the Mediterranean coast in southwest Turkey. The area was once home to the ancient lands of Pamphylia in the east and Lycia in the west. However, during its lengthy history, it has also been ruled by a number of different civilisations, and now it is home to numerous breathtaking archaeological sites and historical ruins.

Ancient Antalya
Ancient Antalya 1


The name Antalya comes from the former Attalia, which was established as a seaport by Attalus II, a king of Pergamum, in the second century BC. However, new archaeological digs in the city center suggest that the city’s history extends back to the fifth century BC. Attalus III, the nephew of Attalus II, left Attalia to the Romans as part of his will when he passed away in 113 BC. Over the years, the Seljuk Empire and the Ottoman Empire, to mention a couple, have also held sovereignty over Attalia. Numerous ancient sites and monuments may be found in Kaleiçi, the old city center of Antalya. The historic walls around Kaleiçi, which ringed practically the entire city until the modern era, are the first indications of Antalya’s illustrious past. The only remaining historic entry to the city, Hadrian’s Gate, which was constructed in AD 130 in honor of the emperor Hadrian’s visit, is also part of the city’s perimeter walls. The upper portion of the gate was restored in the 13th century.


The Yivli Minaret Complex (Yivli Minare Külliyesi), which has a number of Seljuk-era buildings including the Yivli Minaret, a 40m tall monument that serves as one of the city’s iconic symbols, is one of the most major historic sites after you enter the historical city center. Hdrlk Tower (Hdrlk Kulesi) is located in Karaaliolu Park, a sizable park on the south-western side of Kaleiçi, which is well worth seeing. The tower was constructed in the second century AD, and throughout its history, it has served as both a fortification and a lighthouse.

Xanthos and Letoon

The ancient city of Xanthos and its cult center, Letoon, in the nearby Mula province, are several hundred kilometers apart in south-west Antalya and were inducted into the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1988. Xanthos, which was originally the capital of the ancient kingdom of Lycia, dates back to 3,000 BC. However, the site also has a wealth of Hellenistic and Roman structures, such as the Xanthos theatre (Xanthos Tiyatrosu), the Roman agora, and a mausoleum with unusual instances of funerary architecture. A number of ancient temples and cult structures are still surviving in Letoon, which was formerly a notable religious center. Of particular note are the three temples devoted to Artemis, Apollo, and their mother Leto. These findings date back to the sixth century BC. Numerous inscriptions that have been carved into rocks and stone pillars can also be found at Xanthos and Letoon, and they constitute some of the longest and most significant specimens of the old Lycian language.


Myra and Patara

The area is also home to locations with later religious significance, such as Myra and Patara, which rose to popularity because of their relationship with Saint Nicholas, a revered saint in many European nations who is arguably best recognized today for his connection to traditions centered around Santa Claus.

Saint Nicholas was born at Patara in the third century AD, and throughout the Byzantine era, the city rose to prominence as a major Christian center. Although it was one of the oldest and biggest cities in Lycia, with beginnings reaching back to before the Iron Age, its history goes far further back than this. In addition, it is where Emperor Nero’s lighthouse, which was built in AD 46 and may be the oldest lighthouse still in operation in the world, is located. Patara’s exceptional harbor capabilities and status as the fabled birthplace of Apollo both add to the city’s distinctive significance. During the Roman era, Patara served as both the capital and the meeting place for the Lycian League, which is regarded as the forerunner of modern democracy.

The Saint Nicholas Church, constructed 200 years after Saint Nicholas’ passing, is located in Myra, which is renowned for being the location where he was consecrated a bishop. A significant example of Eastern Roman art and architecture, this sixth-century church is located at Myra, which was also a significant Lycian city and is now well-known for its Lycian rock-cut tombs and Roman-era remains.

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