Famous Historical Places in Antalya

This content was last updated on 17.03.2024 15:45

Antalya, one of Turkey's popular holiday destinations, welcomes millions of visitors every year. As a globally renowned tourism city, Antalya offers numerous diverse destinations to explore, not only for its natural beauty but also for its historical structures.

The first city established in Antalya, dating back to the 1st century BC, was named Attaleia. After the Bergama Kingdom came under Roman rule, the city passed to the Romans and later hosted the Byzantine and Seljuk Empires. Antalya, a city with traces of many different civilizations, is home to numerous ancient cities and historical structures worth visiting.

With many points of interest to discover, Antalya is a must-visit destination for tourists. Among the historical structures that you should definitely visit during your trip to Antalya are Alanya Castle, The Temple of Apollo, The Ancient City of Perge, The Ancient City of Patara, The Ancient City of Olympos, Hadrian's Gate, The Ancient City of Xanthos, St. Nicholas (Santa Claus) Church, Süleymaniye Mosque, Red Tower, Hıdırlık Tower, Aspendos Ancient Theatre, and the Lion's Tomb (Lion's Sarcophagus).

Historical Places to See in Antalya

Historical Kaleiçi

Historical Kaleici

Kaleici is an exquisite medieval settlement. It is one of the oldest cities in Anatolia, which can still preserve most of the historical structures bearing the traces of Roman, Byzantine, Seljuk and Ottomans. It is possible to see the historical spirit of Antalya in Kaleiçi with its minarets decorated with eye-catching stones, narrow stone-paved streets, wooden houses with bay windows and quiet courtyards.

The bougainvillea overflowing from the gardens of the houses, which display a delicacy from the past, suits the stone houses very well. Most of the two-storey houses with high ceilings and outer sofas have been restored. Most of the 3-storey houses serve as boutique hotels, restaurants, antique shops and gift shops.

The 14-meter-high Historical Clock Tower, located on the outer walls of the Kale Kapısı area, was built in 1901 in the name of Abdülhamit II.

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Alanya Castle, Alanya

Alanya Castle, one of the most visited historical landmarks in Antalya, is located within the boundaries of the Hisariçi neighborhood of Alanya district. Situated 135 kilometers from the city center, you can reach the castle by following the Mersin-Antalya road from the provincial center with your private vehicle, or by taxi or Alanya minibusses.

Construction of Alanya Castle began in the Hellenistic period, reaching a total height of 250 meters. Surrounding it are 6.5 kilometers of walls with 140 towers, making it a massive structure. While its construction was completed during the Seljuk period, traces of many civilizations can be observed within the castle.

Alanya Castle, with its numerous cisterns in the vicinity, is one of the rare structures shedding light on the region's history. A must-visit during your Antalya vacation, Alanya Castle is open every day from 08:00 to 17:00.

The Temple of Apollo, Side

Located in Side, a district of Antalya, the Temple of Apollo was built in honor of Apollo, the god known as the epitome of beauty in mythology. Situated 75 kilometers from the city center, you can reach the Temple of Apollo by following the Mersin-Antalya road until you reach the Side sign, either with a private vehicle or by taking minibusses departing from the taxi station or bus station.

Constructed in 150 AD, the temple has managed to reach us in quite a robust condition despite some damage. Erected in honor of Apollo, the god of light and beauty in Greek mythology, the temple attracts tens of thousands of local and foreign tourists annually.

As a Roman-era structure, the Temple of Apollo can be visited every day from 08:00 to 19:00, offering its majestic structure and breathtaking views to visitors.

Yivli Minaret, Kaleiçi

Yivli Minaret, Kaleici

The Yivli Minaret can be seen from almost every corner of the city. One of the symbolic works of Antalya, the historical Yivli Minaret from the Seljuk period is undoubtedly one of the first places to visit in Antalya. It says I am the symbol of the city with its eight belts in the shape of a half-cylinder groove on a square block of cut stone and a 45-meter minaret decorated with turquoise stones. It is visible from all over the city, just like the Eiffel Tower in Paris.

The symbol of Seljuk domination was designed as a monument during the reign of Alaeddin I. It forms a complex with the Ulu Mosque, Ulu Mosque Madrasa, Atabey Armağan Madrasa, Antalya Mevlevi Lodge, Zincirkıran Mehmet Bey and Nigar Hatun tombs around it. All of them are important historical heritages worth seeing.

Hadrian's Gate

Hadrian's Gate

Hadrian's Gate, known as the "Üç Kapılar", was the entrance gate to the city from Kaleiçi and the port area in ancient times. This monumental gate was built in 130 AD in honor of Hadrian, one of the Roman Emperors. It looks like a typical Roman triumphal arch with its two-columned facade and three arches rising on four gate towers. On the second floor, which has not survived, there were statues not only of the Roman emperor but also of his family members.

Phaselis Ancient City

Phaselis Ancient City

Phaselis (Faselis) is a quiet and peaceful paradise in Kemer's Tekirova Town, famous for its natural beauties, ancient city, bay and beach. Phaselis Ancient City is an ancient settlement where the sea and history coexist with its historical ancient theatre, aqueduct, agora and baths.

It was founded by the Rhodesians in the 6th century BC. It was the most important port of the eastern coast of Lycia. In 333 BC, Alexander the Great stayed in Phaselis for a while during his campaign from Macedonia to India. Phaselis Bay is a part of the Ancient Phaselis City. The bay, which welcomes many daily visitors on weekends in the summer, is located 60 km from Antalya. Take your food and drink with you.

Phaselis Ancient City visiting hours

  • Summer term (1 April – 31 October) 08.30-19.00
  • Winter period (31 October – 1 April) 08.30-17.30

It is open to visitors 7 days a week.

Aspendos Theatre

Aspendos Theatre

The Aspendos Theater is one of the best preserved among the ancient theaters and one of the rare examples among the Roman theaters in Anatolia that has survived to the present day with its stage. It is known that the Aspendos Theater was built by the architect Zenon during the reign of the emperor Antonius Pius between 138-164. The semi-circular amphitheater for 15,000 people leans against the eastern slope of the acropolis, as in the classical Greek theater tradition.

Known as "Belkıs Ruins" among the people, Aspendos Ancient City is visited in two sections as "Upper City" and "Lower City". The theater is the most important building in the Lower Town. Among the places to see are its walls, agora, fountain, exedra, stadium, baths, aqueducts, temples and necropolises. The ancient city can be reached from the asphalt road that separates from the Antalya-Manavgat highway.

Aspendos Ancient City visiting hours

  • Summer term (1 April – 31 October) 08.30-19.00
  • Winter period (31 October – 1 April) 08.30-17.30

It is open to visitors 7 days a week.

Perge Ancient City, Aksu

Perge Ancient City

The ancient city of Perge is located within the borders of Aksu county, only 18 km away from Antalya city center. An ancient city, which was the capital of the Pamphylia Region, is one of the most beautiful historical places in Antalya. The Ancient City of Perge, which is on the UNESCO World Temporary Heritage List, was among the richest and most beautiful cities in the old world during the Hellenistic period.

The ancient city of Perge, whose history goes back to the Bronze Age, is an important city in terms of planning in the context of the Late Classical, Hellenistic and predominantly Roman Imperial periods. St. Paulus and Barnabas started their first travels in Anatolia to spread Christianity from here.

Perge Ancient City visiting hours

  • Summer term (1 April – 31 October) 08.30-19.00
  • Winter period (31 October – 1 April) 08.30-17.30

It is open to visitors 7 days a week.

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Perge Ancient City, Antalya, Turkey

Xanthos Ancient City, Kaş

Xanthos Ancient City

Xanthos Ancient City was the largest administrative center of the Lycian Civilization in Antiquity. Although its assembly was in Patara, the capital of the union was Xantos. Located 46 km from Fethiye centre, Xanthos was the most important settlement in the region, together with the religious center Letoon.

Xanthos, which was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1988, has witnessed many bloody wars and important historical events, unfortunately, there are not many buildings that can be seen in the city today. The artifacts found during the excavations in the 1840s are exhibited in the British Museum.

Xanthos Ancient City visiting hours

  • Summer term (1 April – 31 October) 08.30-19.00
  • Winter period (31 October – 1 April) 08.30-17.30

It is open to visitors 7 days a week.

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Patara Ancient City, Kaş

Located in the Kalkan Town of Kas district, Patara Ancient City is one of the oldest cities in Antalya. Situated 220 kilometers from Antalya city center, Patara Ancient City is a must-see historical site that can be reached by following the signs for Yazır, Korkuteli, Söğüt, Bekçiler, and Kumluova from the city center in sequence. Alternatively, you can also reach the area by taxi or Kalkan minibusses.

Established in the 8th century BC, Patara Ancient City served as the capital of the Lycian Union. The ancient city, hosting numerous structures, features ancient theater, baths, temples, and a stadium among its sights. As the capital of Lycia, Patara also houses the assembly building where decisions regarding the city's governance were made. Remarkably, this ancient city, recognized as the first capital of Lycia, is also noteworthy for being the city where St. Nicholas, also known as Santa Claus, lived, making it sacred to Christians.

You can add Patara Ancient City to your Antalya travel itinerary, as it is open for visits every day from 08:30 to 17:30.

The Ancient City of Olympos, Kemer

Located within the borders of Kuzdere Neighborhood, which is affiliated with Kemer district of Antalya, Olympos Ancient City can be visited. Situated 80 kilometers from the city center, Olympos Ancient City can be reached by following the coastal road westward direction towards the Kemer sign with your private vehicle, or by taking a taxi or Kemer minibusses.

Among Antalya's most significant historical structures, Olympos Ancient City is known as the "City of the Gods". Under the Ottoman Empire's protection in the 15th century, Olympos is not only important for Antalya but also among Turkey's significant historical cities. Additionally, boasting an impressive view, Olympos Ancient City is one of the important cities of the Lycian Civilization.

You can visit the city during your Antalya vacation every day from 08:00 to 19:00.

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