Once, there was a land.
Just after the Toria War ended in the north-west of Anatolia, the thousands from different blood with common trouble; those who had no home anymore wandered to the south. To the land where all tribes lived, the land of whole clans, Pamphylia. The region had six important cities; Olbia, Attaleia, Perge, Sillyon, Aspendos and Side. Each one of them had its own stories and glorious times. However, only Attaleia (Antalya) has remained up until today as a living city leaving behind the Roman, Byzantine, Seljuk and Ottoman periods.
Around 150 BC, a brave man called Attalos marched down to the Mediterranean passing through Roman territories in Asia Minor. No sign of fear read in his eyes. His quest was to conquere a new harbour for its kingdom, Pergamon (Bergama). The king became the founder of the city of Attaleia (root for Antalya) after his name. Nevertheless, the city was taken back by the pirates after the fall of the Kingdom in 133 BC. Shortly after that, the Romans took control of the whole Pamphylia region in 77 BC, and the visit of the Roman Emperor Hadrianus to Antalya in 133 AD was the foreshadow of the prosperous years ahead.
After more than 400 years of rule, Antalya became a Byzantine city following the division of the Roman Empire as the west and east Rome. Even though Antalya continued to be a major city of the Byzantine Empire, it had not grown much. On the other hand, by the gale-force wind of Christianity, Roman temples were destroyed one by one and replaced by churches on the foundations of the antiquity. Although trade lost its importance, the city improved by agriculture using the wisdom of the earth.
But then, something happened, something that Emperors of Byzantine would have never expected. A new religion was rising in the east of Anatolia. The Arab armies conquered the Byzantine’s strongest frontier fortress city of Amida (Diyarbakır) in 639. Now, a biting south-easterly Islamic wind was blowing over the Christian Asia Minor. Moreover, the pirates of Rhodes, Venezia and Genoese including Kings of Cyprus were attacking the harbour of Antalya. The knockdown just came after the conquest of Constantinople by Crusader Armies in 1204.
By the 13th Century, the new rulers of Antalya were Seljuk Turks. They did not act differently than the previous residents of the city. Seljuks built the first Turkish mosque in Anatolia transforming the Panaghia Church which was formerly a Roman temple. Yet, the city’s population remained ethnically diverse. Ibn Batuta, one of the most famous travellers of the middle age has observed neighbourhoods in which people from different religion and ethnic group lived as communities. During Seljuks rule, Antalya became once again an important international commercial centre hosting tens of inns and hundreds of shops in and out of the castle. Yivli Minare which is the symbol of today’s Antalya belongs to this period. The Ottoman took the golden keys of the city from the hands of the Seljuk at the beginning of the 15th century and continued its growth beyond the walls. The Ottoman Empire dominated the city by protecting its cultural diversity until the World War I. After a two year of non-conflicting occupation of Italy between 1919-1921, Antalya finally became the city of the Turkish Republic.
This is the city where Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī stepped his feet along its long narrow streets. A city that once carried on its walls the relief demonstrating the scene of the entreaty of the King Priam asking the dead body of Hector from Achilles. The historical city centre of Antalya, Kaleiçi is one of a kind places embraced by the Taurus mountains, a mediaeval town reflecting the cultures of imperial civilizations within the smell of the Mediterranean, choisya and jasmine. Kaleiçi, a unique example of a surviving Anatolian city that preserved its ancient history starting from the Hellenistic period, was recognized as an archaeological site by the Turkish Republic’s Government in 1972. Ultimately, FIJET awarded Kaleiçi with a Golden Apple in 1984 by recognizing the efforts of the ministry of tourism for protecting the historical landscape and developing tourism movement in the region. While Antalya is the number one sea and sun destination of Turkey today, the old town Kaleiçi welcomes its visitors to travel in time.