In Antalya, the pine-clad Toros (Taurus) Mountains sweep down to the sparkling clear sea resulting in an irregular coastline of rocky headlands and secluded coves
The region, bathed in sunshine for 300 days of the year, is a paradise for sunbathing, swimming, and, sports activities like wind surfing, water skiing, sailing, mountain climbing and spelunking. If you come to Antalya in March or April, you can ski in the mornings and in the afternoons swim in the warm waters of the Mediterranean. Awaiting your discovery are important historical sites set in a landscape of pine forests, olive and citrus groves and palm, avocado and banana plantations.
The Turkish Riviera is the tourism capital of Turkey. Its full range of accommodation, from tourist class to deluxe hotels, and the hospitable people of Antalya will make your holiday comfortable and enjoyable
Surrounded by amazing scenery of sharp contrasts, Antalya, Turkey's principal holiday resort, is an attractive city with shady palm-lined boulevards and a prize-winning marina. In the picturesque old quarter of Kaleici, narrow, winding streets and old wooden houses abut the ancient city walls.
Antalya has been continuously inhabited since its founding in 159 BC by Attolos II, a king of Pergamum, who named the city Attaleia after himself. The Romans, Byzantines and Seljuks successively occupied the city before it came under Ottoman rule. The elegant, fluted minaret of the Yivli Minareli Mosque in the centre of the city, built by the Seljuk sultan Alaeddin Keykubat in the 13th century, has become Antalya's symbol. The Karatay Medrese (theological college) in the Kaleici district, from the same period, exemplifies the best of Seljuk stone carving. The two most important Ottoman mosques in the city are the 16 th-century Murat Pasa Mosque, remarkable for its tile decoration, and the 18th-century Tekeli Mehmet Pasa Mosque. Neighbouring the marina, the attractive late 19th-century Iskele Mosque is built of cut stone and set on four pillars over a natural spring. The Hidirlik Kulesi (tower) was probably constructed as a lighthouse in the second century. The Kesik Minaret Mosque, which was previously a church, attests to the city's long history in its succession of Roman, Byzantine, Seljuk and Ottoman renovations.
When Emperor Hadrian visited Phaselis in Antalya province 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 still standing near the marina. The clock tower in Kalekapisi Square was also part of the old city's fortifications.
In the Ataturk and Karaalioglu Parks, the colourful exotic flowers and the shimmering water in the bay with the mountains behind demonstrate why Antalya has become such a popular resort. At Aqua Park, on the eastern coast, every kind of water sport is available, including exciting water slides. The award-winning Antalya Kaleici Marina and Leisure Centre is considered one of the loveliest marinas in Turkey with its many souvenir shops, friendly cafes and restaurants as well as yacht moorings and services. Sail in the morning and enjoy the restful peace of the marina in the afternoon. The old city walls, lit up at night, lend an atmosphere of serenity and timelessness.
The Archaeological Museum, with artifacts from the Palaeolithic. Age to Ottoman times, offers a glimpse of the area's rich history. Two-coloured ceramics dated at 5400-8500 BC are worth seeing. The Ataturk Museum displays objects used by the founder of the Turkish Republic. (Both open weekdays except Monday).
NORTH OF ANTALYA
Renowned for its unspoiled landscape, flora, and fauna, the Goller Bolgesi (Lake District) lies in a mountainous are 150 km north of Antalya. The city of Burdur is known throughout Turkey for its beautiful lakes, as well as for its carpets and kilims. The Bakircilar Carsisi is a shopping area where you can find fine hand crafted copper. This city also preserves excellent examples of Ottoman regional architecture, in particular the Tasoda, Kocaoda (also known as Celikbas), and Misirlilar Konaks, or mansions, dating back to the 17 th century. Both the interior and exterior decorations reveal much of the Ottoman aesthetic. (Open everyday except Monday). The Burdur Archaeological Museum houses some very important artifacts from around the region. (Open everyday except Monday).
WEST OF ANTALYA
The mountains of the Toros (Taurus) Range rise up immediately behind the coast. The entire length from Konyaalti Beach to the Kirlangic Peninsula is a national preserve, the Bey Daglari (Olympos) National Park. The history of this ancient Lycian Peninsula can be traced back to the Neolithic Age to the settlements at Beldibi.
The ancient city of Olympos is situated on the southern side of Mt. Tahtali. Oleander and laurel bushes shade the Olympos Valley, which can be approached by land or sea. The light playing on the quiet pools of water enhance the mosaics in the bath. A temple gate possibly built during the reign of Marcus Aurelius (161-180 AD), part of a bridge, and a Roman theatre also remain from antiquity. The outer walls and towers around the bay date from the Middle Ages.
North of Olympos up from Cirali Beach is Yanartas (at a height of 300 meters) where Greek mythology tells us the Lycian hero Bellerophon mounted his winged horse Pegasus and slew the fire-breathing Chimaera. Gas which seeps from the earth burns brightly at night at this site, which the Byzantines also considered a religious area.
The ancient city of Myra, now called Demre or Kale, is 25 km west of Finike. It was inhabited as early as 500 BC. Many splendidly carved rock tombs dating from the 4 th century BC overlook the magnificent Roman theatre. St. Nicholas, who was born in Patara, was the bishop of Myra during the 4 th century AD, and died there in 326. Every year in December the St. Nicholas Commemoration Ceromony attracts many tourists who spend their Christmas holidays on the sunny Mediterranean coast of ancient Lycia.
Kekova, an island an hour from Dalyanagzi by sea, gives its name to a whole ensemble of picturesque islands, numerous bays and ancient cities. These bays provide natural harbours in all seasons, and yachtsmen particularly enjoy exploring the unspoiled landscape. Along the northern shore of Kekova Island at Apollonia, earthquakes have disturbed the land causing some of the ancient houses to sink under the clear water, thus creating a sunken city. Kalekoy Castle (Simena) offers a bird's-eye view of the bays, inlets, islands and colourful yachts sailing peacefully over the glassy water.
Continuing west out of Kekova, you come to Kas, a lovely spot surrounded on three sides by mountains. The friendly local fishermen are happy to run a water - taxi service to take you to a favourite bay, cove or beach along the coast. The swimming and diving are excellent in the cellar cool water around Kas.
Kas was founded in the 4 th century BC as Antiphellos. Now only the Lycian rock tombs, sarcophagi and a theatre are left. But the charm of the town remains, and it is a pleasure to wander through the streets, stopping to examine souvenir shops that offer Turkish handicrafts, leather goods, copper and silver items, cotton clothing and the inevitable handmade carpet.
Once a principal harbour of ancient Lycia, Patara is now reached by following a winding mountain road before descending to the site. According to Greek mythology Apollo was born here. More concrete history reveals that this town was the birthplace of St. Nicholas. The ruins are, of course, numerous and interesting. A second century AD theatre has been partially excavated, and there is a gate with three arches built in 100 AD. But Patara is also a place for beach lovers. Its 22 km of pure white sand stretches as far as the eye can see, making it a natural choice for all types of beach sports. The remoteness of this undiscovered corner makes it feel like a private getaway.
The ancient Lycian capital of Xanthos, today in the Turkish village Kinik, lies 18 km north of Patara. The theatre, Tomb of the Harpies, Nereid Monument, agora, and Inscribed Pillar, among a mixture of ruins from Lycian, Roman and Byzantine times, create a special atmosphere at this site. At the Lycian cultic centre of Letoon, six km farther, three temples dedicated to Leto, Apollo and Artemis, familiar gods of mythology, await the exploring tourist.
EAST OF ANTALYA
Perge (18 km from Antalya) was an important city of ancient Pamphylia, originally. settled by the Hittites around 1500 BC. St. Paul visited this city on his first missionary journey. The theatre stage has finely carved marble reliefs., and other carvings from around the city are displayed in the stadium. Amateur archaeologists will want to see the handsome city gate flanked by two lofty towers, a long colonnaded road once paved with mosaics and lined with shops, a large agora, the public baths and a gymnasium.
Northeast of Antalya, at the turn off for Tasagil and Beskonak, is the scenic route the leads to the 14-km-long Koprulu Canyon National Park. The twisting road winds over mountain streams and passes through virgin cedar forest. It is often a slow drive because the view at every turn is more beautiful than the last. The par, 92 km from Antalya, is a valley of wild beauty rich in flora and fauna. The canyon stretches for 14 km among the Kopru River and is 400 meters deep in some places. Fish restaurants dot the rest areas. The Roman Oluk Bridge, which spans the canyon, and the Bugrum Bridge over the Kocadere stream, are engineering feats of antiquity. From this park you can take two possible excursions - to the ancient city of Selge or to the Dedegol Mountains. Dedegol, the highest peak in this mountain range riess to 2,992 meters. An important city of ancient Pisidia, Altinkaya (Selge), northwest of Koprulu Canyon National Park, is reached by a winding mountain rod. The city walls, two cisterns, temple to Zeus, agora, stadium, theatre carved into bouldern, gymnasium and necropolis still remain from this commercial city that stood at an elevation of 950 meters. Historians verify that Selge had direct trade with Antalya, which brought it prosperity. Selge was ruled by Lydians and others.
Although the Manavgat Waterfalls are not high, milky white, foaming water rushes powerfully over the rocks. Next to the waterfalls shady tea gardens and restaurants make the falls a pleasant, cool resting spot, especially welcome after a day of sightseeing. You can take a delightful boat trip up the Manavgat River to explore this lovely area further.
Side, one of the best-known classical sites in Turkey, was an ancient harbour whose name meant pomegranate. Today a pretty resort town, its ancient ruins, two sandy beaches, numerous shops and extensive tourist accommodation attract throngs of visitors. There are numerous cafes and restaurants with a view of the sea, and the shops that line the narrow streets sell typical Turkish handcrafts including leather goods and Turkey's famous beautiful gold jewellery. The magnificent theatre of the ancient city, built on colonnaded arches, is the largest in the whole area. Other monuments include the agora, the Temple of Apollo, which is situated near the sea, a fountain and necropolis. The extensive Roman baths, now a museum, houses one of Turkey's finest archaeological collections.
Alanya The large and popular resort centre of Alanya lies at one end of a rocky promontory which juts out into the Mediterranean between two long sandy beaches. A fortress repaired by the Seljuks in 1231, one of the most magnificent sights on the coast, crowns the headland. Nearly 150 towers punctuate the walls of the well-preserved, double-walled citadel. Within the outer walls are ruins of mosques, a caravanserai and a covered bazaar, and within the inner walls are a ruined cistern and a Byzantine church. Although Alanya's history dates back to Roman times, it rose to prominence under the Seljuk, when in 1220. Alaeddin Keykubat made it his winter residence and naval base. The surviving buildings reflect the importance of the city in Seljuk times. Besides the impressive citadel, tourists should explore the unique dockyards and the octagonal Kizil Kule (Red Tower).
Alanya itself is a beautiful holiday centre of modern hotels and motels, as well as numerous fish restaurants, cafes and bars. The cafes that ring the harbour have become popular gathering places for tourists. There are also three blue flag beaches. From the town's lovely park, the road runs along the coast to the harbour, lined with countless boutiques that tempt tourists with handicrafts, leather, clothes, jewellery, handbags and the amusing painted gourds that are a symbol of the area. In August, when Alanya hosts a colourful International Folklore Festival the atmosphere is charged with vitality and gaiety.
If you enjoy exploring you should visit the Damlatas Cave to see the eerie misshapen rock formations. Nearby is the Archaeology and Ethnography Museum (Open weekdays except Monday). A boat can take you to three sea grottoes: Fosforlu Magara with its phosphorescent rocks; the Kizlar Magarasi, where pirates imprisoned their female captives; and the Asiklar Magarasi.
Kizkalesi, 50 km southwest of Mersin, is a holiday resort and the ancient site of Korykos, with fine sandy beaches, motels and camp sites. The 12the century Castle of Korykos on shore faces another fort, Kizkalesi (Maiden's Castle), that standas on a tiny island 200 meters offshore. Formerly a sea wall joined the two fortresses.
Antakya, the biblical city of Antioch, lies on the Asi River (Orontes) on a fertile plain surrounded by grand mountains. Once the capital of the Seleucid kings, it was notorious for its wealth and luxury. In Roman times, the city continued to thrive with commerce and culture. It featured prominently in early "Christian" was first coined.
The Antakya Museum houses one of the richest collections of Roman mosaics in the world (Open weekdays except Monday). These fantastic mosaics in stone were uncovered mostly at excavations in Antakya and nearby Daphne. Outside the town is the Grotto of Peter the apostle. In 1983 the church was declared a sacred site by the Vatican. Other places of interest include a bustling bazaar and the Mosque of Habib Neccar.
South of the grotto, the Iron Gate was one of the actual entrances of biblical Antioch. Strolling through the old part of town, you cannot help recalling that Paul, Peter, Barnabas, and others walked these streets, for little has changed since that time. The Castle of Antioch, set high above the city, offers a magnificent view over the city and the plain.
South of Antakya is Harbiye, the ancient Daphne, where, according to mythology, Apollo tried to make the wood nymph Daphne, his lover. To escape him, she change into a laurel tree. The city was a luxurious suburb in Roman times. Covered with orchards, gardens, laurel trees, and waterfalls, this is an excellent place for a good meal. In October, delicious Harbiye dates are in season. Wonderful laurel-scented soap can also be purchased here.
Samandag, 25 km from Antakya, is a resort town with a pristine beach. Seleucia Peria (Cevlik), north of town, was founded around 300 BC and by the time Paul and Barnabas started on their first missionary journey from here it was a busy port. The most interesting monument to see is the Tunnel of Titus, built to divert rain water. Even by today's standards it is a tremendous engineering achievement. You should also drive to the Temple of Zeus at Kapisuyu village for a spectacular panorama of the ancient harbour, sandy beach and fertile plain.