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When King Attalos first set eyes on Antalya he dubbed it " Paradise on Earth". Its fertile soil and natural harbour made it ideal for settlers throughout the ages. Antalya has had an extremely chequered history. The Persians, Alexander the Great, The Romans the Arabs and many more have all left their mark on the area over the centuries but no one more so than King Attalos of Pergamon who in 159 B.C. gave the region its name Attalia, from which we derive the modern name Antalya.
Antalya and its environs enjoyed a golden era in the first and second centuries A.D., reflected in the magnificence and multitude of cities to be found at that time of which Side and Aspendos in the east and Phaselis, Olympos and Xanthos in the west are just a few.
Those days of glory began to fade however during the Byzantium period at the turn of the 3rd century A.D. with the fall of Constantinople as the capital of East Rome. Later the Arab invasions with their plundering and pillaging signalled the final demise of these great cities. And in 1207 the regions of Antalya and Alanya came to be associated with the Selchuks.
Today the city of Antalya is again reliving a golden age. It has been transformed into a cultural and tourist hub with much on offer to satisfy the discerning visitor - whether it's a guided tour through ancient ruins, a fun packed family holiday or just a romantic boat trip on the sea. Whatever it is you are looking for Antalya has it all.
The ancient city of Antalya was protected by two walls, in the shape of a horseshoe, one running along the shoreline and the other inland. These walls date back to ancient times when the Romans built on the Hellenic foundations. Some remains of the walls can still be seen today as well as a few turrets, Hadrian's Gate, the Clock Tower and the Hidirlik Tower. Nowadays the ancient city centre surrounded by sea and land walls is called the Kaleiçi.
The streets in the old town are narrow and slope upwards from the harbour. Some very interesting historical sites to visit within the old town are the mosque with the truncated minaret, the fluted minaret (Yivli Minare) the Keyhusrev Medrese, the Karatay Medrese, the Iskele Mosque and the Tekeli Mehmet Pasa Mosque and various old chapels especially the Church of St. George which has been beautifully restored by the Suna-Inan Kiraç foundation. The presence of churches in the old town reflects the recent chequered history of the area. During the 19th century there were many inhabitants of Greek and Armenian origin who lived and traded happily alongside their Turkish counterparts. And it is this multicultural aspect of the old town that gives it its very distinctive atmosphere.
The yacht harbour and surrounds offer awe-inspiring views both day and night that have moved many a local and foreign painter, poet and writer to achieve great works.
Visitors to Antalya take to the streets and hidden courtyards of Kaleiçi or along the Yacht Harbour, where an ice cream and a stroll down the jetty are accompanied by sea breezes and waterside cafes. The downside is that several slow seasons have resulted in increased hassling by those idling outside their shops.
With the arrival of Konyaalti's Beach Park, Antalya can now assume its place as the pre-eminent seaside resort on the Turquoise Coast. Stylish and tasteful cafes line the seaside beach park promenade at Konyaalti, sharing the lawns with decadent arrays of cushions, and backed by a handful of characteristic meyhanes.
Meanwhile, residents looking for a quiet evening out descend on Karaalioglu Park for a seat at one of the welcoming tea gardens dressed in bright red or for a go at a line-up of balloons with an old army rifle. When the heat and humidity become too much to bear, there's bound to be a Turkish Nights show at one of the hotels in town.