If you are history and art lover, or want to do something different during your lazy hotel stay in Antalya, you can simply visit the world-famous historical sites along the Antalya region and explore the ancient ruins, temples, theaters and experience the traditional side of Turkey.
Surrounded by enormous mountains which are beautifully unified with blue-flag beaches and the mesmerizing Mediterranean Sea along with its historical texture and natural beauties, Antalya – the ancient paradise and global holiday spot for tourism is one of the must-visit gems on Earth. Hosted countless ancient civilizations that were continuously inhabited by Romans, Persians, Egyptians, Byzantines, Greek, and Ottomans for thousands of years, it was also under the rule of Lycia, Lydia, Pamphylia, Pergamon, Seljuk, and the Republic of Turkey.
Top Historical Sites in Antalya to Explore
Antalya region is also home to many ancient cities and archaeological sites. Some of them dates back to 2nd century Roman times. The whole region can be considered as a paradise of ancient cities and historical sites.
The current province of Antalya includes three significant regions called Lycia, Pamphylia, and Pisidia in ancient times as well as for about 100 different settlements in total with histories spanning back more than 2,000 years. The ancient sites surely give us a glimpse of the history that takes us to a time when the inhabitants were building the world that we live in today!
Isn’t it high time you grab your backpack and start this fascinating journey in ancient cities?
Kaleici: The Old Town of Antalya
Kaleici, which means inner castle in Turkish, is the pretty old town of the city. It is the historic center of the city surrounded by a Roman wall. A must see place. You can start your Antalya city center day out with a nice stroll along the old town. Here, you’ll explore and enjoy the pretty narrow streets and the old stone houses. Many of these houses have been converted into boutique hotels and trendy shops.
When you continue wandering through the shore, you’ll come up to a slope of the cliffs and witness the famous Roman harbor. The harbor is now serving as a marina for yachts and daily excursion boats. Here you can enjoy the amazing panoramic views, take photos and enjoy your drink or meal in one of the surrounding tea gardens, cafes, bars and restaurants.
Ancient city of Aspendos & the Roman Theater
Location: Belkis village, Serik town (about 45 km. on the east of the Antalya city center)
Aspendos can be considered as the best and the most visited sights in the Antalya region. The ancient city of Aspendos is known for its Roman theater dating back to around 161-180 AD. It is also one of the best preserved Roman theater in the World. One of the most visited historical sites in Antalya.
Here you’ll explore the Roman Amphitheater at first sight. Other points of interest and architectural structures include the Stadion, aqueducts, baths, temples, city walls and many other remains.
Ancient City of Side, the Old Town & Temple of Apollo
The ancient city of Side is accepted as one of the most visited and best historical sights in the Antalya region. The site dates back to the 2nd century AD and situated on a very visible place, on the end of the peninsula of Side resort.
The site is situated on the Side peninsula just by the coast, and along a very well preserved Old Town, and consists of an Agora, a Roman Amphitheater, a Roman Bathhouse (now serving as Side Museum), a monumental fountain, and world famous Temple of Apollo & Athena.
The old town of Side is situated on a headland of the region, right by the sea. The region also houses several beautiful beaches, impressive beachfront and some high quality hotels.
You can start your day here by strolling along the narrow streets and head up to the Roman amphitheater that is a unique part of the ancient city. The structure has a half moon shape and features good samples of the Roman architecture.
Following the road to the coast along the peninsula, you’ll reach to the world famous temple of Apollo & Athena.
The Temple of Apollo and Athena is the most visited and the most popular landmark here. It dates back to the 2nd century and has been dedicated to the Greek god of light and sun. The area is also great place to watch the sunset. Many visit here, sit between the marble arches and watch the sunset in the company of scenic views of the Mediterranean and take photos.
The Roman bathhouse is a 2nd century structure and comes next. It was converted into Side Museum in 1959-1961. The Museum exhibits variety of artifacts and findings from the excavations made on the archaeological site.
Ancient City of Perge
Location: Aksu town (about 17 km. on the east of the Antalya city center)
Perge is one of the most popular historical sites along the Antalya region. Being an ancient Greek city, Perge is famous for its Roman ruins dating back to 1300 BC and its big amphitheater with a capacity of 15,000 people.
Here, you’ll explore and admire the ruins of the Roman temple, old school buildings, baths and the impressive entrance.
Ancient City of Phaselis
Location: Kemer (about 11,5 km. from Kemer, 55 km. from central Antalya, between Camyuva and Tekirova resorts)
Phaselis is the ancient Lycian city, archaeological site and open-air museum set in a very impressive natural environment by the coast and Taurus Mountain range at the background.
The archaeological site is very famous and attracts hundred thousands of visitors every year for its historical remains, amphitheater, wonderful beaches and picnic areas.
Ancient City of Termessos
Location: Gulluk mountain (about 30 km. on the north-east of the Antalya city center)
The ancient Pisidian site of Termessos is situated on a hillside at an altitude of 1,050 meters, on the Gulluk Mountain National Park. The its geographical location of the ancient city make it one the best-preserved ancient cities in Turkey.
The city used to have a strategic location that the Alexander the Great couldn’t be able to conquer the city. The city also used to survive independently during the Roman era and had its own laws and affairs.
Ancient City of Pamphylia
Magnificent Pamphylia territory, exceeding 100 kilometers length with a width reaches up to 40 kilometers, is located in the southern part of Anatolia covering the coastal part of Kemer and Alanya districts stretching from the alluvial plain to Anamur by encompassing the eastern shores of the Gulf of Antalya to the Taurus Mountains which rise in the north of the plain with plenty of resources such as rivers and streams stemming from the steady rainwater throughout fall and winter. The Gulf of Pamphylia was the name used instead of the Gulf of Antalya in historical times.
Alanya Castle is the famous landmark of the Alanya resort. A must see place. The castle is situated on a hill-top overlooking the beautiful Mediterranean coast. You can access there by a 3,5 km. long road that is also a very ideal for hiking and trekking lovers.
When you reach the castle, you’ll definitely admire the panoramic views of Alanya, as well as the well-preserved ruins and the shell of Byzantine church dating back to 11th century.
The Karain Cave is a fantastic cave and historical sight in the Antalya region. It is carved in a Cratese period limestone, which is the largest one in Turkey to have been inhabited.
The Cave is also a UNESCO World Heritage site due to its archaeological value. You can see some of the findings at the museum on the site, and some others are at the Antalya Museum.