Coming from an eleven-hour night bus trip from Cappadocia and arriving Antalya in the morning, we only had one day to spare in Antalya, the largest Turkish city on the western Mediterranean coast. I’m sharing with you the five (5) places I have visited in and further out of Antalya’s city center in a day.
Like any other cities in Turkey, Antalya is so full of history, starting off with the first settlers dating back to the Hellenistic period or the 2nd to 3rd centuries BC. Yes, that old! Can you imagine that? It was then governed by the Romans, then the Byzantine empire, then the Ottoman empire. Next, Italians occupied Antalya, but not for long because it was recaptured by a newly independent Turkey.
In the Bible, Antalya was also mentioned as Pamphylia in the Acts of the Apostles, where Saint Paul and Saint Barnabas, preached Christianity.
With only a day in Antalya, I’ve only scratched the surface, but that was enough to leave a lasting impression of the city’s beauty and rich history. I’m sharing with you the 5 places I have visited in and further out of Antalya’s city center.
1. The Ruins of Ancient Perge
Excavations from the Ruins of Perge show that the it’s as old as the Hellenistic period. It’s just amazing seeing some of the structures that remain until today. I couldn’t help but imagine how glorious the city used to be. The statues and reliefs recovered in the excavations are said to be displayed in Antalya Museum. Much as I want to, unfortunately, we did not have the time to visit the museum.
The Roman gate
The Hellenistic gate
The Roman baths consist of rooms located side by side. One is called the frigidarium or cold water room, tepidarium or room with warm water and caldarium or room with hot water.
One of the South bath rooms
The floor with brick pillars have spaces for circulation of hot air to keep the bath room warm
Canals that supplied water to the fountains and baths run in the middle of the columned streets
The Agora or marketplace, measuring 75 x 75 m
Beautiful stones with carvings that make up what was once a glorious city
2. The Most Preserved Roman Theater in Aspendos
Standing in the middle of the most preserved Roman theater in the world, being surrounded by its stone rows of seats, is simply astounding. I couldn’t help but think “Gladiator”.
The theater is actually still in use today, seating 15,000 people, and hosting major events such as operas, concerts and folklore festivals.
We all need selfie, sometimes 🙂 But the main subject here is this multi-arched walkway surrounding the uppermost row seating that serves as access to the different sections of the theater.
View from uphill Aspendos' stadium and basilica ruins
The sign points the stadium ruins here but I'm not sure where to look
The Church ruins
3. The Natural Wonder of Düden Waterfalls
Antalya’s Düden Waterfalls is part of a network of water systems that starts with two karsts characterized by underground drainage systems. The two karst systems merge into a sinkhole, where it travels 14 kilometers underground, comes out at Varsak pit, goes underground again for 2 km and comes out due to pressure as Düden Waterfalls. This water system is being harnessed for hydroelectric power. Düden Waterfalls finds its way to a number of streams and eventually leads into the Mediterranean Sea. Isn’t that an exciting journey?
The waterfalls is located within a park, with spots for resting areas and picnic, and small food vendors. This is where I got my first try of Turkish ice cream sold in carts. Ice cream vendors in Turkey have their own style of selling ice cream. First, they occasionally pound the ice cream with long metal rods. Second, they scream “ice cream!” to catch attention. Third, when you buy a scoop, just as you reach for your cone, they would put on a show and perform magic tricks that will make you work to finally get your ice cream in your hands.
4. The Charming Old Town Kaleiçi of Antalya
I enjoyed our short stroll in the Old Town Kaleiçi, the old center of Antalya. My eyes wandered in delight at the sight of the Ottoman era houses, while walking its narrow cobbled streets. I can’t explain but I just love the feel of this town.
Hadrian’s gate, the only remaining entrance gate to the ancient city of Antalya
The main square, marked by an old stone clock tower and Tekeli Mehmet Paşa mosque
The more touristy part of Antalya
Hadrian's gate just after sunset
5. The Mediterranean coast
Just a few steps from our hotel is the Mediterranean coast, known for its turquoise blue waters. Seeing the Mediterranean Sea for the first time is special knowing that this body of water is as historic as the countries that line its coasts from Asia, Europe to Africa. The sea has been a bridge for the exchange of trade and culture among the land it connects.
We were not lucky to see the elusive Taurus mountain in the backdrop, but the view was pleasant just the same
Antalya, I hope to spend more time with you should I have the opportunity to visit you once again. See you next time!