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Antalya - TurkeyAntalya, Turkey's fastest growing city (population about 500,000), was founded by king Attalus II of Pergamon (Pergamum) in 158 BC and named Attaleia in his honor. After the death of his son, king Attalus III, in 133 BC who without heirs willed his kingdom to Rome, Attaleia became a Roman city. Emperor Hadrian (Hadrianus) visited the city in 139 AD and a triumphal arch (Hadriyanüs Kapısı) was built in his honor. After the Romans, the Byzantines took over and it was an important staging post for the Crusaders. In 1207 the Seljuk (Selçuk) Turks took control of the city and renamed it to Antalya. They also gave Antalya most of its medieval monuments, including its symbol the Yivli Minare (Grooved or Fluted Minaret). The Seljuks were defeated by the Mongols and in 1391 the Ottomans took over. After World War I, Antalya was given to Italy in 1919, but by 1921 it was returned to Turkey.

Present Antalya is a charming city with a lovely yacht marina and a beautifully restored historic city center. Kaleiçi is the name of the peaceful historic old quarter which features Ottoman houses sprinkled with Roman ruins. The pictures below take you through a photographic tour of Antalya's Kaleiçi district.

The tour starts at the old Roman harbor which now is in use as a yacht marina. Climbing upwards leads to the Saat Kulesi or Clock Tower, a Seljuk tower with inset Roman column drums. The tower is built into a section of the old walls and marks the main entrance to the old city quarter - Kaleiçi. The Yivli Minare or Fluted Minaret, erected by the Seljuk sultan Alaeddin Keykubad in the 13th century, dominates the skyline of this part of the city and is Antalya's most prominent monument. Turning right onto the Ataturk Caddesi, one reaches after a short walk Hadrian's Gate, which commemorates the visit of Emperor Hadrian to Antalya in 139 AD. Going through the gate, one enters Kaleiçi, the peaceful historic district which features Ottoman houses sprinkled with Roman ruins. Halfway the main street, the Hesapçı Sokak, there is a tower and some buildings known collectively as the Kesik Minare (Broken Minaret). The complex, named Korkut Camii, was originally built as a 2nd-century Roman temple. It was converted in the 6th century to the Byzantine church of the Virgin Mary. It was destroyed by the Arabs in the 7th century and repaired and converted into a mosque by the Seljuks in the 13th century. In 1361 the Christian king of Cyprus Peter I made it a church again but was reverted to a mosque by Prince Dede Korkut (1470-1509) the son of Sultan Beyazit II. In 1896 it was mostly destroyed by fire. Inside the Korkut Camii, it is possible to see the remains of Roman and Byzantine capitals and marbles. Following the Hesapçı Sokak, one reaches the seaside. To the left, there is the Hıdırlık Kulesi, a Roman tower which dates from the 1st century AD. Some believe it used to be a lighthouse, others that it was the tomb of a Roman nobleman. Any visit to Antalya should not miss the Archeological Museum (Arkeoloji Müzesi) with excellent displays of statues from Perge.

I was in Antalya on many occasions. I prefer to stay in the Hotel Frankfurt, located very conveniently in the Kaleiçi quarter, Hıdırlık Sokak No. 17, Tel. +90 0242/247 62 24. Hotel Frankfurt has cool rooms and air-conditioning in the lobby. There's also a nice swimming pool. Breakfast is luxurious and the hotel has a German standard for cleanliness and service. Mustafa the owner of Hotel Frankfurt is most helpful in arranging transportation to the airport, the bus station, and the archeological sites in the vicinity of Antalya: Perge, Aspendos, Termessos. For dinner, one should certainly try the Hasanağa Restaurant, a ten-minute walk from Hotel Frankfurt. Excellent food, the meals are served in in the garden, nice atmosphere, especially when the rakı drinkers start singing.

 

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