SWEETHEART OF THE TURKISH RIVIERA
The Turquoise Coast is known for its generous climate, fine beaches and epic history. Mark Antony is said to have loved the area, considering it as a wedding gift he could give to Cleopatra. And in Greek mythology, the beastly Chimera is believed to have been inspired by the volcanic mountains to the west of Antalya. Antalya, a city where nature’s finest work meets classical architecture and style, was once seen purely as a gateway to the Turkish Riviera. But the land King Attalus II first called a “Paradise on Earth” has come a long way in its 2,200-year history, remnants of which are scattered all throughout the city. At Hadrian’s Gate you can connect to the Roman Emperor Hadrian, whose 130 AD visit to Antalya was marked by the construction of this grandiose granite and marble monument. At Republic Square you can come face to face with Kemal Ataturk, the revolutionary founder of Turkey. And in the old town of Kaleici you can wander through cobblestone streets lined with Ottoman-era houses. To compliment the grandeur of Antalya’s civilised history, nature provides forested peaks, mysterious caves and dramatic waterfalls, which envelop and intertwine with the city. The Duden Waterfalls are a particularly captivating and serene set of cascades which beg to be explored. There’s nowhere better to linger for a quiet moment while you contemplate your magnificent journey.
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A trio of arches in granite and marble tower above visitors to Kaleici, the old-town district of Antalya. The monumental Hadrian’s Gate has been standing sentinel since 130 AD, erected to honour the arrival of Roman Emperor Hadrian. Flanked by defensive towers and great walls, the gate paid tribute to over 200 prosperous years of Roman rule, who claimed the city in 133 BC. Even today, with the walls torn and crumbled, this timeworn monument still feels mighty and triumphant. At the same time, the grandiosity is complimented and contrasted by intricate ornamentation. As you step between the arches you’ll see hand-crafted floral and rosette reliefs. Look up to the entablature and discover proud lion heads. And look out for Arabic script from the reign of Seljuk sultan Alaeddin Keykubat I. It’s not hard to see why Hadrian’s Gate has been hailed the most beautiful gate in the Pamphylia region.
Well-preserved moments of history, winding cobblestone lanes and wonderful clifftop views make Antalya’s old town a dream. Kaleici, meaning ‘within the castle’, is largely traffic-free, so the enchanting atmosphere is easy to get lost in. Each corner you turn is a step into another century, with Roman, Byzantine, Ottoman, Seljuk and modern Turkish influences to admire. The most popular sights including the Roman-era harbour which Kaleici wraps around, and the finely restored Ottoman houses dotted throughout narrow, lively streets. And a must-visit for treasure hunters and gift givers, the district’s shopping neighbourhood is brimming with local souvenirs, jewellery and antiques. Ideal for commemorating your time in one of Turkey’s most beautiful and stylish cities.
Meet the founder of Turkey, Kemal Ataturk, at his striking monument in Republic Square. One of Turkeys most meaningful monuments, the monument signifies the unity and leadership of the revolutionary statesman whose victories paved the way for a Turkish Republic. Created in 1964, using 12 tonnes of bronze, it features a mounted Ataturk ready to charge and two children who represent the country’s youth. Republic Square, where the monument stands tall, is a beauty hotspot of all its own. With unparalleled views of the harbour and coast, sparkling fountains to admire, and plenty of spots for people-watching, no visit to Antalya is complete without a visit.
Saat Kulesi, The Clock Tower
Antalya’s ancient walls have seen a lot of action, and a lot of renovation. Built in the Hellenistic period, improved by the Romans with the addition of Hadrian’s Gate, strengthened by Byzantines, Seljuk Turks, Cypriots and Ottomans, the city’s fortifications have stories to tell. Although largely demolished today, the areas that remain hint at their importance. Stop for a moment and stare up at the city’s last remaining tower with the same wide-eyed spectacle as an explorer centuries past. Saat Kulesi, the Clock Tower, was constructed to mark the 25th year of Abdulhamit II’s reign, featuring a bold clock face on each side of the uniquely square, rough stone tower. Adorned in intricate Arab details and inscriptions, with crenelations and decorative arches, this monument is well-loved by locals and visitors alike. And if you’re lucky enough to explore the city after dark, you’ll see the tower come alive with illuminations that let the splendour resound into the night.
Stunning for its natural surroundings as well as its civilisation, Antalya is a gem of the Turquoise Coast. Perhaps the most enthralling of nature’s gifts to the area are the Duden Waterfalls. Located within the city’s verdant municipal park, the network of falls and caverns are split into two separate attractions, each with mesmerising sights and an air of mystery. The Upper Falls are a series of spectacular cascades flowing into each other as they wind through soothing woodland, a welcome space for calm and reflection to contrast the bustling city. Don’t miss the spiral staircase that leads you behind the waterfalls, taking you into the belly of the earth through a captivating network of caves. The Lower Falls are equally awe-inspiring, situated at the mouth of the River Duden where the falls meet the Mediterranean. Watch them triumphantly tumble into the sea over the Antalya City cliffs, then gaze out to the horizon, breathe in the salty sea air, and feel free.