20-21 September 2023

Hadrian’s Gate to historic Antalya

Antalya is a charming city sitting above a gorgeous blue bay. It loses some of its charm because of its size and bustle, but once I pass through Hadrian’s Gate into the old quarter, life is really good. There is much to occupy a couple days and still avoid a beach and the Starbucks and McDonalds.

Cobble-stone streets are lined with historic buildings and small shops. Narrow ways are filled with restaurants and cafes. All is situated on the cliffs above a horseshoe of an old harbor. Many shaded parks give relief from the sun and heat. Most areas are pedestrian only.

Antalya was founded around 150 BCE by Attalos II king of the Attalid Dynasty of Pergamum. Within about 20 years, the Romans conquered the region and the city began to thrive. There are Roman ruins, the 2nd century Hidirik Tower and intact fortress walls. Because Hadrian really got around and visited here in 130 CE, there is also a Hadrian’s Gate.

Best Sites

Hermes, from Perge, 2nd c. Roman Period

The Archaeological Museum is one of Turkey’s largest and best museums. It exhibits a very nice collection of statues and artifacts from the region. There are several rooms of marble statues, mostly from the ancient city of Perge. Also on exhibit are fossils, artifacts dating from the Mycenaean to the Hellenistic eras, wonderful statues of various mythological figures, sarcophagi, and beautiful tiles and carpets from Seljuk and Ottoman periods.

“…a beautiful tower worth seeing

Evliya Çelebi upon seeing the Hidirik Tower in 1671
Hidirik Tower

The Hidirik Tower is one of the oldest and most iconic monument in Antalya. It is on the southwest corner of the city walls, right next to the large, quiet Karaalioğlu Park. The cylindrical tower was built by the Emperor Hadrian during the Roman Period of the 1st or 2nd century. Some speculate the tower was meant to be a monumental tomb. It certainly served to protect the harbor and city. The tower also is famous for its magnificent views over the bay and Antalya.

In close proximity to the Hidirik Tower is the Atatürk House and Museum. Turkey’s “Father” and first President Mustafa Kemal Atatürk did not live here, but Atatürk did stay here during his official visits to Antalya. Ow a museum, the displays include photos and memorabilia commemorating his life. Some of the most honored items are the personal belongings of Atatürk, some of which were transferred from his mausoleum in Ankara.

The Turks continue to exhibit great reverence for all things Atatürk. 

Historic Antalya is a pleasant, walkable city. Around most corners are splendid views. There are numerous restaurants and bars and prices are reasonable. Of course, the usual plethora of carpet, jewelry and plate shops line the streets. English is spoken everywhere. But there are many peaceful, shaded streets for strolling.

The temperatures are hot. Thankfully, our Hotel Ninova is air conditioned. For those wishing to brave the sun, Antalya’s beaches are quite nice and chock-a-block full of umbrellas and chaise lounges for rent.

Neighborhood Turf

Antalya like all of Turkey has its ubiquitous furry felines. Walking its streets, I began to see that the cats seemed to have chosen their favorite neighborhood in which to live. The black and white cats seemed to have their “hood.” A few streets distant was the hangout of the orange tabby. The grays and striped had their own turf. Perhaps the fighting which is occasionally heard at night is an adventurous tabby venturing into the turf of the grays.

Turkmen and Black Goats

The Turkmen continue their nomadic life herding their goats in the Taurus Mountains. The majority of these nomads use a black tent for their homes as they move about the mountains in search of pastures for their animals. They also migrate with the seasons.

Black Goats sculpture

The tents are extreme basic and usually made of felt and goat hair. Their herds are distinctive for the black goats which the men shear once a year. The hair on the backs of the goats is ideal for the making of the tents.

Antalya was the perfect spot for a couple days. From what I saw as I meandered around the city, it is also a good destination just for finding a cafe, ordering an Efes, and enjoying the spectacular scenery. However, shade will be needed.

Above the bay – a perfect spot for the sunsets


Retired. Have time for the things I love: travel, my cat, reading, good food, travel, genealogy, walking, and of course travel.


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