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About Antalya

ANTALYA

Antalya is located on the southwest coast of Turkey and is quickly becoming popular for its ancient history and modern Turkish culture.  The town has quickly become a hot spot for tourists, seeking sun, with its Mediterranean climates.  Not only the warm temperatures draw in the tourists, the well preserved Roman-Ottoman quarter of Kaleici, offer heart stopping views of the surrounding mountains, as well as the Roman style harbor.   

HISTORY

Although this city has been populated since the earliest times, it is unknown when the city was first inhabited.  The oldest artifacts have been found in the Karain Cave and date back to the Palaeolithic period.  It is thought that Antalya was founded by Attalos II, the King of Pergamon in the 1st century BC.  It was first named after this founder, Attalia and used to base his powerful naval fleet. 

Attalia became a Roman city, when King Attalos III of Pergamon willed the kingdom to Romeupon his death.  At this point the city grew and prospered, with Christianity spreading through the region in the 2nd century.  Emperor Hadrian visited and a arch, known as Hadrian’s gate was built in his honors. 

Antalya became a major city in the Byzantine Empire, until the Seljuk Turks from Konyasnatched the city.  In 1391 the Ottomans got back the city and this control lasted until the First World War, when the allies divided the Empire, giving Antalya to Italy.  However Ataturk’s armies put an end to these foreign holdings and took Antalya back when the Turkish republic was founded in 1923. 
 

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PLACES TO VISIT IN ANTALYA

ANCIENT CITY OF ASPENDOS: Aspendos is 47 kilometres outside of Antalya and possesses the best preserved Roman theatre of the ancient world.  Aspendos was an ancient city in Pamphylia, founded around 1000 BC by Greeks.  Coinage from Aspendos was widely spread, indicating that in the 5thcentury BC Aspendos was the most important city in Pamphylia, deriving great wealth from salt, oil and wool. 
The theatre, which Aspendos is best known for has a diameter of 96 metres and seating for 7000 people.  Originally built during the Greek rule of Zenon, it was repaired again by the Slejuk Turks in the 13th century. 
The theatre was still used for shows until recently, when the installation of the modern theatre equipment started to damage the original theatre structure. There are several other ruins throughout the city, including a stadium, agora and basilica. There is also a trail that you can follow to view the ancient aqueduct system.


ANCIENT CITY OF TERMESSOS: Termessos is 30 kilometres from Antalya and was once a Pisidian city, built on Mountain Solymos, at an altitude of more than 1000 metres.  The city is surrounded by rugged mountains, making the ancient city very unique in appearance.  Today, it is one of the best preserved ancient cities of Turkey.  The Termessos National Park also holds rare species of both flora and fauna, which are under protection. 

The ruins in Termessos are mostly hard to reach, due to their scattered and untamed location.  The main sights worth seeing include; the entrance to the Artemis-Hadrian temple and Hadrian propyleum, gymnasium, sarcophagi, agora, theatre, Temple of Zeus, necropolis and several tombs.

ANCIENT CITY OF PERGA – PERGE: Perga was once the capital of the Pamphylia region and lies 15 kilometers from Antalya. Perga was founded in 1000 BC and was set up inland, as a defensive measure to avoid pirates.  Perga was also home to the great mathematician Apollonius, who studied under Archimedes, writing a series of books describing the family of curves known as conic sections, including the circle, ellipse, parabola and hyperbola.

Roman rule began in Perga in 188 BC and the ruins that can be visited today date from this period.  The ruins worth seeing include a theatre, stadium, massive Roman and Hellenistic gates and a nymphaeum.  

KARAIN CAVE: It is believed that Karain Cave was continuously occupied for 25,000 years.  Archaeologists have discovered both human and animal bones and tools including stone hand axes.  People can wander through the cave and there is also an onsite museum, featuring many of the discoveries. 

KEMER: Kemer is located 40 kilometers west of Antalya, on the Mediterranean coast of Turkey.  The name originates from stone walls, which were built to protect the town from flooding, by the mountain stream.  The town was only accessible by boat, until the 1960’s when a road was built and major infrastructure was sponsored by the World Bank.  Kemer is a town of natural beauty and its highlights include; the unspoilt stretches of beaches, the mountains with beautiful pine forests and the peaceful location.  Kemer is a good place to base ones self for other sites including; Goynuk Canyon, Ulupinar, Olympos, Chimera, Phaselis, Three Islands and Eco Park.  There are many clubs, bars and restaurants, offering a variety of entertainment. 
 
CHIMERA FLAMES - YANARTAS

The town and national park of Chimera is known by several names, including Yanartas (flaming rock) and Burning Rock.  These names all relate back to a cluster of flames that blaze spontaneously from crevices on the slopes of Mount Olympos, at around 250 meters above sea level.  It is unknown the exact cause of the spontaneous flames, but it is thought they are a result of methane emissions.  It is thought that these flames have been burning since the 4th century and sailors used them as beacons to navigate their ships. The mountain consists of two dozen vents, which are grouped in two patches on the hillside above the Temple of Hephaistos.

Some sources and locals will tell you that the geothermic activity of the mountain is the result of the ancient myth of Bellerophon.  Chimera was the son of Typhon, himself the son of the fierce Gaia, the earth goddess.  Zeus was so scared of Typhon he set him on fire and buried him alive under Mt Etna, creating a volcano.  The Lycian King Lobates, then sent Bellerophan to kill Chimera, the fire breathing monster, part lion, goat and serpent, with aid of his winged horse, Pegasus.  It is state that he did this by pouring molten lead into Chimera’s mouth on Mount Olympos, thereby creating these spontaneous fire balls form the mountain side.  

The hike to reach the flames can be quite far and is best taken at night time, for an interesting view of the blue flames.  There are some ruins near the flames, that mostly date back from the Byzantine period and a pagan temple dedicated to Hephaestus.

CIRALI BEACH: Cirali is a small rural village, with beaches packed with mountains, rivers and creeks.  The area is protected by the WWF, since it is a nesting place for Caretta Caretta, also known as Loggerhead Sea Turtles.  Cirali is one of the last unspoilt areas on the Antalya coastline and hikers will benefit, since its on the Lycian Way.  All trails and paths are clearly marked and sections you can visit include; Ulupinar, Chimera, the summit of Tahtali Dag and the National Park of Olympos.    

OLYMPOS BEACH / NATIONAL PARK

Olympos is a valley, located 90 kilometers from Antalya.  The early history of Olympos is unknown, but the city was founded in the Hellenistic period, sharing its name with the nearby Mount Olympos.  In the second century BC the city became one of the six leading cities in the Lycian federation.  During this period the Olympians worshipped Hephaestus, the god of fire.  Olympos was then invaded and settled by the Cilician Pirates in the 1stcentury BC, until the city was added to the Roman Empire around 78 BC. 

In the middles ages, Venetians, Genoese and Rhodians built two fortresses along the coast of Olympos.  During the 15th century these fortresses, along with Olympos were abandoned.  Today the ruins can be visited and the site provides much splendor, when combined with the beautiful scenery of a beach and stream that runs through a gorge.  The area is also scattered in thick greenery, including; wild grapevines, oleander, bay trees, figs and pines.  

Olympos can either be a relaxing escape from the hustle and bustle of Turkey, retreating to tree houses and a simple lifestyle, or a more outgoing stop with boat cruises, canyoning, jeep safaris, mountain biking, rock climbing, scuba diving, sea kayaking or hiking.

FINIKE: Finike is located on south of the Teke coast, about 90 minutes outside of Antalya.  Finike, which was formally known as Phoenicus was founded in the 5th century and used as a major trading port for Lycia.  However this port was always under attack from forces in Syria, Egypt and Rhodes, until the Byzantine Empire took hold of the port.  Unfortunately even they could not contain control and eventually the Seljuk Turks took hold of the area in the 13th century, until the mid 14th century when the Ottoman Empire took over control.

Today Finike’s local economy is dependent on agriculture, particularly oranges, which is the local symbol of the town.  Finike now also has a yacht marina and the coast is rich in marine life, including the rare caretta caretta, loggerhead sea turtles.  The beaches are also home to the rare Mediterranean Monk Seal and are a protected species here.

KEKOVA: Kekova is an uninhabited area, only ever temporarily inhabited by Italians, before the population exchange in 1923.  The small region encompasses the island of Kekova, the villages of Kalekoy and Ucagiz and four ancient towns; Simena, Aperlae, Dolchiste and Teimioussa...


KALEKOY / SIMENA: Kalekoy is located on the Mediterranean coast between Kas and Demre.  In ancient Lycian times the town was known as Simena.  Access is only possible by sea.  This popular yachting destination sits admits a Lycian necropolis, which is partially sunken.  Kalekoy sits below crenulated ramparts of a small Byzantine castle on the hill, which was originally built to combat pirates in Kekova...

DOLCHISTE: Dolchiste was an ancient town destroyed by an earthquake in the 2nd century.  The site was rebuilt during the Byzantine period, until it was abandoned because of Arab incursions. Now the ruins are partly sunken.

DEMRE: Demre, also known as Myra in ancient Lycian times, is on the Mediterranean coast of Turkey, in the province of Antalya.  The town was important enough by the 4th century to have its own bishop and was the home of Saint Nicholas of Myra, he original Santa Claus. Before the tourist boom began in the early 1980’s Demre was and still party is dependent on agriculture, with pomegranate, citrus fruits and vegetables being grown year round in greenhouses.  Local handicrafts, including rug making and the annual camel wrestling festival also increase income for the town.
Myra was a member of the Lycian alliance from 168 BC to 43 AD and has a long history as a religious, commercial and administrative town.  Arab raids in the 7th century led to the silting of the harbor, which then caused the rapid decline of the area. 
 
 
SIGHTS AND ATTRACTIONS

MYRA: Myra has some of the most impressive and well preserved ruins in all of Turkey.  The site is located only 2 kilometers outside Demre city centre.  The ruins are mostly covered by alluvial silts.  There are two necropolises of Lycian rock tombs, carved into the cliff faces. They are known as the river-necropolis and ocean-necropolis.  Many of the tombs inside the necropolis have log cabin features carved into the rock, representing the architecture of the period they were created.  Several also have inscriptions in the Lycian language.

There is also a well preserved Greco-Roman theatre, which likes many other Roman theatres, was later turned into an arena for gladiator and animal shows.  Like the rock tombs, inscriptions are still visible inside the theatre.  There are also cavernous tunnels, access ways, intact seating and a partly collapsed stage. 


CHURCH OF ST NICHOLAS: Located just outside the main square in Demre is the Church of St Nicholas.  St Nicholas was born in Patara and elected to be the bishop of Demre in the 4th century.  It is from St Nicholas that the myth of Santa Claus began.  There are several different stories regarding the origin of the myth, the most common regards a poor Myran man, whose daughters could not get married, since they were too poor to afford a dowry for them.  St Nicholas went into the man’s house at night and left a bag of gold for each girl.  This tale earned him the reputation of secretly delivering gifts in the night.   

By the 10th century St Nicholas had become the most popular folk saint in the Byzantine times.  His tomb in Myra became a place of pilgrimage and annual festivities promoted people to visit every year for the saint’s feast in December.

The original church was built in the 3rd century and held his remains after he died.  In the 10th century it was restored and turned into a Byzantine basilica, after Arab raids.  In 1087 Italian merchants broke into the church and St Nicholas’s tomb, stealing his bones.  The church then fell into disarray and was only again restored in 1862 by Tsar Alexander I of Russia.

CAYAGZI: Cayagzi, meaning stream mouth is located about 5 kilometers outside of the centre of Demre.  Previously known as Andriake, it was a major harbour in Roman times for transport between the eastern Mediterranean and Rome.  The ruins of Cayagzi are mostly destroyed by silting, however they cover a large area and there is a granary, built by Hadrian.  The beach is also an interesting place to visit and watch the local boat makers in action.

TAURUS MOUTAINS: Located behind Demre are the Taurus Mountains.  These mountains are thickly forested and made up of rich soil, from the Mountain Rivers.  The system of mountains extends along a curve and divides the Mediterranean region of Southern Turkey and the Central Anatolian plateau.  It has many peaks, with some reaching heights of 10,000 to 12,000 feet.  The Cilician Gates is a pass that crosses the north of the Taurus Mountains and was the birth place of Apostle Paul. 

Erosion from limestone has formed waterfalls, underground rivers and the largest caves of Asia.
KAS: Kas is a small fishing village in the Antalya Province of Turkey.  Kas is surrounded by mountains, that are said to mimic human figures in a laying position, for example Yatam Adam, meaning ‘sleeping man’.  With a typical Mediterranean climate Kas not only survives by its small sailing marina, but its high yielding year round agriculture.  The crops range from lemons, oranges and bananas to cut flowers, honey, almonds and pine forests...                                                                                                            KALKAN: Located on the Mediterranean coast Kalkan averages 300 days of sunshine a year.  Being the only safe harbor between Fethiye and Kas, Kalkan survives off tourism, mainly brought in by boat cruises.  The old fishing village is famous for its white washed houses on the small hilltop, which overlooks the bay.  There are narrow winding streets, which are scattered with brightly colored flowers.  The population was mainly made up of Greeks, until the population exchange in 1923, when they left to Attica. 
Since most of Kalkan is undeveloped and dotted with ancient ruins, it is an ideal place for a calm and relaxing holiday.   

KAPUTAS BEACH: Kaputas Beach is located only 7 kilometers from Kalkan, where a narrow valley is towered by steep cliffs and the forest joins the sea shore.  A small highway bridge crosses the gorge and below it lays a little sandy cove and sandy beach, only accessible by a flight of stairs. The beach is popular for its untouched beauty.  There are no fixed amenities there, only occasionally are there small vending stands for snacks.
 
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