Kaleici

The oldest part of Antalya – the Kaleici district (in Turkish Kaleiçi) – has more than two thousand years of history. Numerous historical monuments are collected here.

Romans, Byzantines, Ottomans – they all left their traces in the Old City in the form of their characteristic architectural structures. While vacationing in Antalya, be sure to stroll along the streets of Kaleici, breathing in the unsurpassed aroma of ancient and medieval history.

More than two thousand years ago, the ruler of Pergamum Attalus II decided to build a city, choosing for this a beautiful place on earth. For several months, his subjects traveled the world in search of an earthly paradise, until one day they found themselves in an incredibly beautiful area, on one side of which the Tauride Mountains rose, and on the other, the clear waters of the Mediterranean Sea splashed.

The city, built here by order of King Attalus, was named in his honor by Attalia.

In 133 BC, the power over the city was in the hands of the Romans. It was they who founded the Kaleici region. The port, surrounded by high fortified walls with 80 towers and numerous cannons, has become an important strategic site. In the 15th century, the rule over Antalya passed to the Ottoman Empire, and in Kaleici, in addition to the buildings of the Romans and Byzantines, traditional Islamic buildings appeared.

The modern Kaleici of Turkey is spread over more than 35 hectares, it includes 4 districts. Most of the buildings of the Old Town have survived in their original form, attracting hundreds of thousands of tourists who can now not only enjoy the ancient flavor, but also relax in modern cafes or restaurants, stay in hotels, and wander around the souvenir shops.

The history of Kaleici can be easily traced from its very beginning to the present day. Old houses covered with ivy and entwined with flowers, a pier from which you can admire the Tauride Mountains and the Mediterranean Sea, numerous sights – all this is about the Old Town. Let’s tell a little more about the most famous sights of Kaleici.

Hadrian’s gate

An excellently preserved monument of ancient history – the gate in the Old City of Antalya, or Hadrian’s Arch, was erected by the inhabitants of Antalya in 130 BC in honor of the visit of the city by the Roman emperor Hadrian.

It is from these two-tiered gates with arches, columns and cornices faced with marble that you should start your acquaintance with the Old City. On the left side of the gate you can see fragments of sculptural statues, as well as the preserved coat of arms of Emperor Hadrian. They are located on modern Ataturk Street.

The ancient pavement at the gate is 2 meters lower than the modern one, and you can still see traces of carts and hooves on it, dating back several millennia. To preserve them, a metal bridge is installed under the central arch.

Jivli Minaret

In the 13th century, a unique 38-meter Yivli minaret was erected near the Christian church, turned by Sultan Alaaddin Keykubad into a mosque.

“Yivli” is translated from Turkish as “grooved”. The minaret owes its name to the original design, consisting of 8 half-cylinders, for the decoration of which a brick-tiled mosaic was used. Thanks to this decision of the architects, the minaret, despite its massiveness, looks elegant and light.

According to one of the legends, the minaret is a symbol of the victory of the Seljuks who conquered the Mediterranean, whose military campaign lasted almost 20 years – from 1207 to 1226.

The minaret itself is engraved with an inscription stating that the Seljuk sultan Kei-Kubad, the First Ala-ad-Din, who ruled from 1219 to 1237, was engaged in the construction of the shrine.

The tower stands on a massive stone foundation, some blocks of which reach two meters in height. The floor of the minaret is decorated with the words of Allah and the Prophet Muhammad, written in turquoise and blue colors. Climbing 90 steps of a spiral staircase, illuminated by light pouring through the slots in the walls, you can get to the balcony, from which the muezzin used to call the faithful to prayer.

Most likely, initially the number of feet was equal to 99 in honor of 99 names of the Almighty.

The Yivli Minaret is visible from almost anywhere in the city and is one of the most recognizable architectural sites in Antalya.

Iskele Mosque

At the foot of the steps that lead from Mermeli Street to the Old Port, there is a small stone mosque. Built at the end of the 19th century on the shore of the harbor, it is surrounded by greenery and hides under the shadow of the fortress walls. Seemingly very tiny, the temple rests on 4 columns, between which an underground spring flows.

Tradition says that if you throw a coin into the spring and make a wish, it will certainly come true.

Minaret Kesik

The Ottoman prince Korkut, ruler of the Tekke province, in the 12th century ordered the Juma (Friday) mosque to be erected on the ruins of an ancient Byzantine church. In 1361-1373, the city was occupied by the knights of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem. At this time, the church was dominated by Catholic Christians, and after that it again passed to the Byzantine Orthodox Christians.

The mosque was named after the prince who built it – Korkut or Cami-i Kebir. But today only a few ruins remain of it.

Near the mosque there is a minaret, which is called the Cut-off. There are 2 versions of the appearance of its name:

  • according to one of them, the upper part of the mosque was badly damaged as a result of a fire that broke out in Kaleici in 1851, the top of the minaret seemed to be cut off by fire;
  • on the other, the minaret collapsed due to lightning striking it.

Hidirlik tower

You can admire the sea and city views by climbing the Hıdırlık Tower, located at the intersection of Hıdırlık and Hesapçı Streets.

The 14-meter tower overlooking the sea was erected by the ancient Romans in the II century BC. According to one version, it is believed that its purpose was to serve as a guide to navigators.

According to the other, it was a lighthouse and was used as a defensive bastion. Some time ago, scientists, having discovered a large stone block inside the structure, suggested that in reality it was the mausoleum of a noble Roman city dweller.

Clock tower

Once on the Kale Kapısı square, you can see the main attraction of Antalya – the Saat Kulesi tower, or the Clock Tower. For its construction, two types of stones were used – hewn and unprocessed. The tower, built in the 19th century, was part of the fort of the Old Town. Later, a clock was installed on it, which the German Emperor Wilhelm II presented to Sultan Abdul-Hamid II.

The clock tower consists of two tiers:

  • the lower one, 8 meters high, rectangular in shape, made of rough stone;
  • smooth stones were used for the construction of the 6-meter upper tier.

Market

Once in the Kaleici area and going down from the Tekeli Mehmet Pasha Mosque to the port, you will find yourself at the Antalya Sea Bazaar, which occupies an entire street.

In numerous shops and souvenir shops, you will find many interesting things – from leather goods to gold, from spices and herbs to hookahs and painted scarves, from ceramics to Turkish amulets against the evil eye.

Here, in the Kaleici market, there are cafes and restaurants where it is so pleasant to relax, having wandered around the narrow streets and bargained with the owners of souvenir shops.

Port of Kaleici

The old harbor of Kaleici owes its safety to serious defensive structures with thick walls, towers and cannons standing on the banks. They are still able to impress tourists, and over the course of two thousand years of history they have repeatedly saved Antalya, hiding behind the fortress walls from numerous raids from the sea.

In the port you can admire 1–3 houses under a tiled roof, one of the facades of which faces the street, and the other overlooks the garden.

Observation deck

In 2014, a panoramic elevator was installed on Republic Square. Descending on it, tourists get to the Old City. There is an observation deck near the elevator, which offers a beautiful view of the yacht harbor, Kaleici area and Mermerli beach.

Beach

In the Kaleici area, there is the oldest Antalya beach – Mermeli, to which a winding wooden staircase leads. However, it is not an obstacle for travelers with children.

There are no crowds on the Mermeli beach, but it is convenient to enter the sea, and loungers can be placed almost near the water, so that it is more convenient to watch the splashing children.

The Kaleici beach itself is sandy, there are very few pebbles on it. Some loungers are located on the breakwaters and a wooden platform right next to the water.

Transparent water and rocky, well-visible bottom call for snorkelling. A key gushing from a nearby rock will help to cope with thirst.

On a well-equipped beach in the Old City of Antalya, souls, trash cans, and toilets are at your service. The only thing you won’t find here is entertainment, as Mermeli Square is too small.

Restaurants / Cafe / Where to eat

Kaleici restaurants will delight their visitors with a variety of dishes and snacks. Most of them amaze with picturesque views of the harbor and the sights of the city.

Located on a cliff above the harbor of Antalya, “Arma” restaurant offers its visitors excellent cuisine. Seafood, fish dishes, numerous snacks, as well as a mesmerizing view from the terrace will not leave anyone indifferent.

Thanks to its cozy atmosphere and excellent service, the restaurant is appreciated not only by locals, but also by numerous tourists. Payment can be made using bank cards.

Contact information: Address: Old Town / Kaleici, Marina 42 – Antalya; Contact phone: +90 242-244-9710

If you want to organize an unforgettable romantic date, a business meeting, just have a good time with friends, then by all means visit the Vanilla Lounge restaurant , where you will be offered to enjoy traditional Turkish and European dishes.

Contact information: Address: st. Hesapchi, 33 / Old Town – Kaleici – Antalya. Contact phone: +90 242 247 6013

Sophisticated visitors should visit the Seraser Fine Dining restaurant Here they will be able to enjoy a wonderful environment, magnificent interior and unobtrusive music. Excellent service and delicious food will please even the most discerning guests.

Contact information : Rn Tuzdzhular, st. Karanlik 18, Old Town / Kaleici – Antalya; contact phone: +90 242 247 6013

Hotels

The concentration of hotels in the Old City of Antalya is off the charts. There are both expensive hotels and budget guesthouses here. If you plan to use a rented or your own car, remember that it will be quite problematic to drive up to hotels in this area.

Let’s name several options for hotels in Kaleici.

The architectural style of the White Garden Hotel is typical of the old district of Kaleici. From the rooftop terrace, you can admire the Tauride Mountains and the Mediterranean Sea.

Solar energy is used to heat the water in the rooms.

Contact information: Kaleiçi Kılıçaslan Mah. Hesapçi Geçidi No: 9, Kaleici, 07100 Antalya, Turkey

Just 450 meters from Hadrian’s Gate, you arrive at the Turvana Hotel . The elegant building is located in a garden and offers its guests a swim in the outdoor pool and great relaxation in spacious rooms, decorated in the traditional style of the Ottoman Empire.

Contact information: Tuzcular Mah.Karanlik Sok. No: 18, Kaleici, 07254 Antalya, Turkey

Modern amenities and traditional Ottoman style are the hallmarks of the beautiful Kaleici Hotel , located just 20 meters from Karaalioglu Park. Guests can enjoy relaxing on the magnificent terrace.

Contact information: Sakarya Sok.No 13, Kaleici, 07100 Antalya, Turkey

200 meters from the old beach of Kaleici – Mermeli – there is the Aspen Hotel with cozy rooms, decorated in a modern Turkish style. To services of visitors – located in a courtyard a swimming pool and a cafe with a terrace and a fireplace.

Contact information: Kilicaslan Mah. Mermerli Sok. No25, Kaleici, 07100 Antalya, Turkey

Staying at La Paloma Hotel , a cozy family-run hotel built in a traditional Ottoman style, feel free to explore the many sights of the Old Town.

Contact information: Kılıçaslan Mah. Tabakhane Sokak No: 3, Kaleici, 07100 Antalya, Turkey

In the Kaleici area there is another wonderful hotel – Bacchus Pension . Guests will not be indifferent to Turkish hospitality and cozy atmosphere.

Contact information: Kılıçaslan Mh. Zeytincıkmaz Sokak No 6, Kaleici, 07100 Antalya, Turkey

  • Family Hotels Antalya

Souvenirs

Once in Antalya, the old city of Kaleici, do not limit yourself to just seeing the many attractions. Be sure to visit the Antalya market in the Old City and the souvenir shops. The Turkish bazaar is a visiting card of the East. Pay special attention to the following traditional Turkish products:

  • In Kaleici you will find many shops and stalls selling carpets and rugs in all colors and sizes. Silk and woolen, with intricate patterns, they are sure to attract attention. Well, if we talk about the quality of natural materials, it is great. The cost of carpets directly depends on their age – the older they are, the more expensive.

In addition to natural carpets, you can also look at synthetic ones. Outwardly, they can be very similar to woolen or silk, but they will cost, of course, much cheaper.

Important! Turkish laws prohibit the export of items that are more than 100 years old. In order not to get into an unpleasant situation at the border, be sure to ask the seller for a receipt or certificate, which will indicate the age of the carpet.

  • Turquoise and coral jewelry, silverware – these wonderful little things will not leave anyone indifferent.
  • In numerous shops and shops, customers will be offered ceramic products. Hand-painted, glaze, magnificent patterns that decorate plates, bowls, bowls, make you not only silently admire them, but also take out wallets.

Interesting Facts

In Kaleici, history seems to be turning back, different eras and civilizations peacefully coexist with each other. The Byzantines, the ancient Romans, the Ottomans – they all had a hand in the image of the Old City that a modern traveler can observe. What interesting facts can the oldest part of Antalya – Kaleici tell travelers?

  • Kaleici, the Old City was built in 100 BC, that is, during the time of the Roman Empire;
  • the city was subjected to numerous attacks both from land and sea, but thanks to the impressive fortress walls, 80 towers and cannons, it managed to withstand and survived to our time;
  • Kaleici owes its colorful architecture to the Romans, Byzantines, Arabs, Turks;
  • examples of ancient and medieval architecture have been perfectly preserved to this day;
  • in ancient times, the entire city was located inside the fortress walls that protected its inhabitants from enemy raids;
  • because of the triple arch, Hadrian’s gate is called “Uch Kapilar” (three gates);
  • the Yivli minaret is a symbol of the city of Antalya, it is also called Alaaddin or the Great Mosque;
  • there is a museum in the minaret, where you can get acquainted with ancient manuscripts, clothes and jewelry, household items of Islamic monks;
  • visiting the Yivli minaret is free, but you can come to it only during breaks between prayers;
  • according to legend, for a long time the architects could not find a place where to build the Iskele mosque, but near the harbor they found a spring and, considering this a good omen, decided to build a shrine here;
  • an old cannon still stands in the backyard of the Khidirlik tower;
  • in the evening, the tower is illuminated, and you can take magnificent photographs against its background;
  • money for the construction of the Clock Tower was given by the German Emperor Wilhelm II;
  • on the northern side of the Clock Tower, you can see a metal spire, on which the bodies of executed criminals were previously hung;
  • the main decoration of the Clock Tower is the front clock, which the German Emperor Wilhelm II presented to Sultan Abdul-Hamid II;
  • most of the well-preserved buildings in Kaleici date from the 19th century.

What’s interesting for children

Breathing with ancient history, Kaleici with its fortress walls, cannons, mosques and towers will surely appeal to little travelers.

Which of the guys will be able to remain indifferent to the narrow streets saturated with the real atmosphere of the Middle Ages? What boy doesn’t want to imagine himself as an antique warrior or a pirate? What girl doesn’t dream of becoming a princess?

Walking along the walls of the Old City, it is so easy to feel like a conqueror or, conversely, a defender of the city. There are fountains in numerous squares, in which it is allowed to swim to escape the heat.

Tired of walking along Kaleici, you can go down to the wooden stairs to the beach and plunge into the warm transparent waters of the Mediterranean Sea. Children will surely appreciate the landscaped mini-park with cute trees and wooden animal figurines. At the end of the park there is an observation deck with a glass floor.

Towers and minarets, fortress walls and fountains, ancient ruins and a boat trip – the Old Town will not leave indifferent any of the little travelers, regardless of their age.

Useful Tips

One day may not be enough to see the sights of the Old Town. Here are some helpful tips to help you make your walks in Kaleici as enjoyable and rewarding as possible:

  • Old and New Kaleici converge on Kalekapisy Square, from which Turkish trade begins. Here you can drink freshly squeezed juices, the cheapest in the whole of Antalya.
  • Shops near the square are not suitable for buying clothes and souvenirs, things are expensive, but they cannot boast of good quality.
  • For shopping in the Old Town, shops located on the street perpendicular to Hadrian’s Gate are more suitable.
  • Walking around Kaleici, you should definitely look into the souvenir shop, where a master works, who makes very beautiful lamps from ordinary pumpkins.
  • Since there are active mosques in Kaleici, you need to dress appropriately for a walk (women need to cover their heads and shoulders with a scarf, legs and arms should be covered with clothes, and both long skirts below the knees and loose-fitting trousers are suitable, men should not wear shorts or T-shirts, an exception is possible only for children under 12 years old).
  • Despite the fact that payments by bank cards are available in the shops and restaurants of Starye, it is recommended to have a certain amount of cash with you.
  • When buying something in the market or in the shops of Kaleici, you can and even need to bargain. Thus, the thing you like sometimes turns out to be purchased at 30% cheaper than the original price.
  • Walking towards the center from the Hadrian’s Gate, on the right side you will see a small shop where real Turkish halva is prepared, which you should definitely buy.
  • When heading for a walk in Kaleici, take care of comfortable shoes, as the streets of the Old Town are paved with cobblestones, and the constant descents and ascents are better done with sneakers than with stilettos.

The old town of Kaleici Antalya is a must-see place. Walking along the intertwining streets, going out into miniature squares that are unlike each other, admiring the bright colors and flowers, old houses with wooden doors, balconies and shutters, you will plunge into the magnificent atmosphere of the East.