Kaleichi District (Antalya) is an old area of the city, located off the coast of the Mediterranean Sea in the southern part of the resort. Thanks to numerous historical monuments, proximity to the sea and well-established tourist infrastructure, the area has gained incredible popularity among guests of Turkey. Just a couple of decades ago, the Kaleici region did not arouse any interest among travelers. But after the authorities of Antalya carried out restoration work on the territory, the Old City gained a new life. What is Kaleichi, and what attractions are presented in it, we will tell in detail below.
More than two millennia ago, the ruler of Pergamon Attal II set out to build a city in the most beautiful place on earth. For this, Vladyka instructed his subjects to find a paradise that could envy all the kings of the world. Wandering for several months in search of a paradise on earth, the riders discovered a place of incredible beauty, spread out at the foot of the Tauride Mountains and washed by the waters of the Mediterranean Sea. It was here that King Attal ordered to build a city, which he named Attalia in his honor.
After its heyday, the city became a tidbit for many peoples. The Romans, Arabs, and even sea pirates encroached on the area. As a result, in 133 BC Antalya was in the hands of the Roman Empire. It was with the advent of the Romans that the Kaleici region appeared here. Surrounded by ramparts, the quarter grew near the port and gained important strategic importance. After the Ottoman forces conquered the area in the 15th century, Antalya turned into a regular provincial city, and in the Kaleici region, traditional Islamic buildings appeared next to Roman and Byzantine structures.
Today, Kaleichi in Turkey covers an area of more than 35 hectares and includes 4 districts. Now it is called the Old Town of Antalya, and it is not surprising, because most of the old buildings have been preserved here almost in their original form. A few years ago, a grand restoration was carried out in Kaleichi, cafes, restaurants and miniature hotels appeared. So, the Old Town has become a popular tourist center, where you can not only touch the history of different civilizations, but also have a good time in a local cafe, admiring the Mediterranean landscapes.
Once in the Kaleici Old Town in Antalya, you will immediately realize how much the area contrasts with the rest of the resort. This is a completely different place where different eras and civilizations intertwine before your eyes. Ancient Roman buildings, mosques and towers allow you to trace the history of Kaleici from its very beginnings to the present day. Walking around the area, you will definitely feel the hospitality of the narrow streets, where miniature cafes and cozy restaurants are located. Ancient houses, wrapped in ivy and flowers, a pier with views of the mountains and the sea make this place ideal for contemplation and reflection.
There are a lot of ancient sights in the Old Town. Below we will talk about the objects of greatest tourist interest:
Often in the photo of the Kaleici Old Town in Antalya you can see a triple arch of ancient times. This is the famous gate erected in 130 in honor of the ancient Roman emperor Hadrian, when he decided to visit the area. The Arc de Triomphe is the entrance to the Kaleici district. Initially, the structure had two tiers and, according to some researchers, was decorated with sculptures of the emperor and members of his family. Today we can see only the first tier, decorated with marble columns with carved friezes. The gates are located between two stone towers, the construction of which belongs to a later period.
Interestingly, centuries-old traces from carts and even horse hooves are still visible on the ancient pavement at the gate. To avoid being trampled, the Turkish authorities installed a small metal bridge under the central arch. You can visit the attraction at any time for free.
Having passed through the gates of Hadrian and once inside the Old Town, you will immediately notice the high minaret located in the very center of the district. It was erected in Turkey in the 13th century as a symbol of the victories of the Seljuk conquerors in the Mediterranean. Yivli is built in the style of early Islamic architecture, and the construction of the minaret is quite unusual: it seems to be cut by eight semi-cylindrical lines, which gives the structure grace and lightness. Outside, the decoration of the building is made of brick mosaic, and upstairs there is a balcony, from where the muezzin once called upon believers to prayers.
The height of the building is 38 meters, due to which it can be seen from many points in Antalya. 90 steps lead to the tower, the initial number of which was 99: exactly so many names does God have in the Islamic religion. Today, a small museum operates inside Yivli, where old manuscripts, various robes and jewelry, as well as household items of Islamic monks are exhibited. You can visit the minaret in between prayers for free.
Looking at the map of Kaleici with attractions in Russian, you will see a modest structure located on the banks of the yacht pier. Compared to other mosques in Turkey, Iskele is a relatively young temple: after all, it has a little more than a hundred years. According to history, architects have been looking for a place for the construction of a future mosque for a long time, and having discovered a spring near the harbor in the Old Town, they considered the source a good sign and built a shrine here.
The structure is completely built of stone, four columns serve as a support for it, in the center of which there is a fountain of water from the aforementioned spring. Iskele has a rather modest size and is considered one of the smallest mosques in Turkey. Around the temple, under the lush foliage of trees, there are several shops where you can hide from the scorching sun and enjoy views of the sea surface.
Another unchanging symbol of the Kaleici Old Town in Turkey is rightly considered the Hıdırılık Tower. The building appeared in the 2nd century during the Roman Empire, but its authentic purpose is still a mystery. Some researchers are sure that for many centuries the tower served as a beacon for ships. Others suggest that the structure was built for additional defense of the fortress walls surrounding Kaleici. And some scholars even believe that Hıdırlık was the tomb of one of the Roman high-ranking officials.
The Hıdırılık Tower in Turkey is a stone building about 14 m high, consisting of a square base and a cylinder mounted on it. The building was once covered by a pointed dome, which was destroyed in the Byzantine era. If you go around the building, you will find yourself in its back yard, where an old cannon still stands. In the evenings, beautiful lights turn on here, and tourists use this background to take unforgettable photos from Kaleici in Antalya.
Compared to other attractions of the Old Town, the Clock Tower is a fairly young historical monument. The main decoration of the building was the facade clock, donated to Sultan Abdul-Hamid II by the last German Emperor Wilhelm II. Historians agreed that it was this gift that served as the occasion for the construction of the tower. It is noteworthy that after the appearance of Saat Kulesa in Antalya, similar buildings began to arise throughout Turkey.
The design of the Clock Tower includes two tiers. The first floor is a pentagonal structure 8 m high, made of rough masonry. The second tier is occupied by a rectangular tower 6 m high, built of smooth stone, on which the presented watches flaunt. A metal spire is still installed on the north side, where previously the bodies of executed criminals were hung out for all to see. Today it is one of the most interesting sights of the Old Town, which has gained great popularity among tourists.
In 2014, a very convenient innovation appeared in Turkey in Antalya – a panoramic elevator that lowers people from Republic Square directly to the Old Town. Near the lift, there is a panoramic platform with spectacular views of the harbor, the Kaleici region and the old Mermerli beach.
The elevator descends to a distance of 30 m. The cabin is quite roomy: up to 15 people calmly enter it. In addition, the elevator is glass, so when climbing up and down you can take a photo of Kaleichi from completely different angles. In the summer season, a lot of tourists gather here, so sometimes you have to wait a few minutes to get down. But there is good news – the elevator can be used completely free of charge.
Accommodation in Kaleici
Hotels in Kaleichi in Antalya are more like guesthouses and cannot boast of stars. As a rule, hotels are located in local houses and are equipped with only a few rooms. Some larger establishments may include a small pool and a private restaurant. A distinctive advantage of local hotels is their location: they are all located in the Old Town in close proximity to major attractions and the sea.
Today, booking services provide more than 70 accommodation options in Kaleici in Antalya. In the summer season, the cost of booking a double room in a hotel starts from 100 TL per day. On average, the price ranges from 200 TL. Most establishments include breakfast. If you prefer all-inclusive five-star hotels, it is best to stay in the Lara or Konyaalti areas.
- Before heading to the Old Town, explore Kaleici on a map of Antalya. At least 3 hours should be allocated for visiting the quarter. And in order to enjoy the atmosphere of the area and all its possibilities, you will need a whole day.
- If you plan to frequently use public transport in Antalya in Turkey, we recommend that you purchase a special Antalya Kart card. Travel with it will be cheaper.
- For budget travelers, we recommend lunch and dinner in the Ozkan Kebap oz Anamurlular dining room. It is located just a 5-minute walk from the center of the Old Town, and offers a rich selection of dishes at very low prices. In general, it should be borne in mind that in the center of Kaleichi, the price tags in establishments are many times higher than in its vicinity.
- If during your excursion around Kaleichi you would not mind taking a boat trip, then you can find such an opportunity on the yachting pier of the Old Town.
Many tourists are accustomed to presenting Antalya as a seaside resort with five-star hotels, completely forgetting the rich history of Turkey. When visiting the city, it would be a mistake to ignore its historical monuments and old quarters. Therefore, being at the resort, be sure to take at least a couple of hours to get to know Kaleichi, Antalya. After all, having done this, you will be amazed at how diverse and ambiguous Turkey and its cities can be.