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Kaleici (Old Town)

From The Marmara Antalya
16 Min
60 min

The beautiful coastal city of Antalya was once the ancient town of Attalia, founded in 150 BC. Antalya’s long history lives on in Kaleici, the historic city center, which has borne witness to more than two millennia of civilization.  

Dotted with gorgeous red roofs, this unique cultural hub is the heart of Antalya. For all of premodern history, this eastern portion of the city was walled off, opening up onto the turquoise harbor. Its buildings range stylistically — and time period-wise — from Roman to Ottoman, Byzantine to modern Turkish, forming a visual record of the country’s fascinating history. Teeming with people and culture, Kaleici is a must-visit area of Antalya, full of countless attractions like Hadrian’s Gate, the Kesik Minare, famous mosques, and much more.  

Nowadays, Kaleici mixes history with modern charm. Continue reading to learn more about the old town, what to see there, and how you can visit.  


History of Kaleici 

Kaleici arose from a small Hellenistic settlement that predated Roman conquest. The entire city grew and prospered during the rule of Ancient Rome, and then later became a major Byzantine city, a veritable cosmopolitan capital. In the 13th century, the Seljuk dynasty ruled the city — during which time the famed Arab traveler Ibn Battuta visited. Ibn Battuta wrote: “Though of vast bulk, [Attalia] is one of the most attractive towns to be seen anywhere, besides being exceedingly populous and well laid out.” 

In the 15th century, the Ottomans conquered the city; they ruled until the fall of the Ottoman Empire in the early 20th century. By that time, Kaleici and its surrounding Antalya were a veritable mélange of cultures, combining the influence of the Mediterranean with that of the Roman and Ottoman.  

In recent years, Kaleici has undergone an extensive renovation, now becoming one of the major centers of Antalya.  

Things to Do 

Walk Through Hadrian’s Gate 

Kaleici is famously home to Hadrian’s Gate, through which you can enter into the historic city center. Dating back to before 130 AD, the gate is the only thing that remains of the walls that used to surround Kaleici. It was built to welcome the Roman Emperor Hadrian, and is an elaborate, colonnaded structure.  

This 8-meter-tall archway is a must visit: despite being nearly 2,000 years old, it remains in relatively good shape, and has shepherded many centuries of civilization. 

Visit the Tekeli Mehmet Pasha Mosque 

Antalya’s Ottoman influence is on full display at Tekeli Mehmet Pasha Mosque, a 17th century institution known for its centuries-old gold engravings and its beautiful domes. Located at the heart of Kaleici, this mosque is one of the most important in Antalya. 

See the Kesik Minare Cami 

Also known as the Broken Minaret Mosque, the Kesik Minare Cami was originally a Roman temple dating back to 2 AD. Later, it was converted into a Byzantine church, then a minaret was added when the church was converted into a mosque. The current structure is about 800 years old, and it has long been a symbol of the Seljuk conquest of Antalya.  

Relax at Mermerli Beach 

Tucked into the coast by Kaleici is the private Mermerli Beach, a stunning cove accessible by a set of stairs at the Mermerli Restaurant. For a small entrance fee, you’ll be able to soak in the sun at a lesser-known but no less beautiful seaside locale, taking in a grand view of the Kaleici harbor.  

How to Visit 

Besides the aforementioned attractions, it’s also an incredible idea to just stroll through Kaleici’s historic streets, admiring the eclectic architecture and stopping by the old town’s museums and gardens.  

Now that Kaleici is no longer enclosed by walls, anyone can visit at any time. You can start your exploration at Kale Kapisi, Kaleici’s main square, or anywhere else in the old city center.  

Discover the Top Things to Do in Antalya for an Unforgettable Experience! If you're seeking a dreamy getaway, Antalya is the perfect destination. With its breathtaking beaches, ancient ruins, and vibrant culture, this coastal paradise has something for everyone. Dive into turquoise waters, soak up the sun on pristine shores, and explore the fascinating historical sites that abound. Indulge in the local cuisine, experience the vibrant nightlife, and create lasting memories. Don't miss out on the best things to do in Antalya to plan your extraordinary Mediterranean adventure today!

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