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Attaleia, the ancient name of Antalya, is derived from that of the Pergamene king Attalos II Philadelphus, who founded the city on the Pamphylian seacoast around 150 B.C. Settlement of Antalya and its environs stretches back to the dawn of humanity however as attested by Paleolithic finds discovered in the nearby Karain and Beldibi caves and Early Bronze Age finds discovered at Semahöyük.
Today it is part on Turkey’s “Golden Coast” , an exquisite land of sun, sea, and history. In 133 B.C. Antalya, together Pergamon’s other possessions in Asia Minor, were taken over by Rome. Antalya (or “Attalia” as the Bible calls it) is where Paul set sail from together with Barnabas on his first missionary journey: “They passed through Pisidia and reached Pamphylia. Then after proclaiming the word at Perge they went down to Attalia and from there sailed for Antioch…” Acts xiv 24-26).
In 130 A.D., Hadrian visited the city during his peregrinations of his empire and to this we owe the monumental arch (7) built in his honor. During Byzantine times Antalya was an archdiocese. Following the Seljuk capture of the city, Antalya continued to be an important commercial and military port.
Because the modern city sits atop the remains of its predecessors, very little remains of old Antalya. Of the fortifications that once surrounded the city, only Hydyrlik tower is still standing. Hadrian’s Gate, as we have said, was originally constructed is a victory arch. Kesik (“cut-off”) Minaret and Yivli (“fluted” or “grooved”) Minaret are works from the reign of Alaeddin Keykubad I (1219-1236).
The former is located on the site of a temple from the 2nd century A.D. while the latter has become a symbol of modern Antalya. Another of the architectural works of importance in Antalya is the Karatay Medresse, built during the reign of the same sultan. The ancient castle overlooking the ancient harbor with its old houses nestled inside is worth exploring and the Antalya Museum is a must for anyone interested in this region’s art and history
The area around Antalya is full of places from which one-day trips may be made to ancient Lycian, Pisidian, and Pamphylian sites: Termessos,located amidst the lofty peaks above Antalya; Perge located 17 kilometers, Aspendos located 49 kilometers, and Side located 80 kilometers along the road to Alanya; and cities like Selge and Sillyon located somewhat inland are but a few examples.
In the direction of Kemer is Phaselis a marvelous archaeological site where one may enjoy the ruins in the atmosphere of a seaside pine forest. In addition there are a number of scenic spots of natural beauty such as the waterfalls at Duden, Kursunlu, and Manavgat which are a delight to Visit on a hot Mediterranean summer day.
An important Seljuk seaport, Antalya was connected by a number of trade routes leading into the hinterland and up-country .As a result, there are many Seljuk caravanserais in the vicinity. Some of the many that are worth a look are Alarahan, built in 1231 by Alaeddin Keykubad I; Sarapsahan and Kirkgözhan, both built during the reign of Gyyaseddin Keyhüsrev II (1236-1245); Evdirhan, built by Izzeddin Keykavus. All of these are located on the roadside. Two others -Yusufhan and Incirlihan -today stand a short distance from the modem road as one approaches Antalya from the direction of Burdur.