One of Turkey’s fastest-growing cities, ANTALYA is blessed with an ideal climate (excluding the searing heat of July and August) and a stunning setting atop a limestone plateau, with the formidable Beydağları looming to the west. In the heart of town, the pretty yacht harbour huddles below the Roman walls, while the crescent of Konyaaltı bay curves to the industrial harbour 10km west. Interest for tourists is largely confined to the relatively tiny and central old quarter within the Roman walls, known as the Kaleiçi (or “within the castle”). The city’s renowned Archeological Museum, however, west of the old town, is home to one of the finest collections in the country.
Antalya was founded as late as the second century BC by Attalus II of Pergamon, and named Attaleia in his honour. The Romans only consolidated their hold on the city and its hinterland during the imperial period, following successful campaigns against local pirates. Christianity and the Byzantines had a similarly slow start, though because of its strategic location and good anchorage Antalya was an important halt for the Crusaders. The Selçuks supplanted the Byzantines for good early in the thirteenth century, and to them are owed most of the medieval monuments visible today (albeit some built on Byzantine foundations). Ottoman Antalya figured little in world events until 1918, when the Italians made it the focus of their short-lived Turkish colony.