“There is no better haven of peace for a morning’s consolidation than the garden of the first-classs Antalya Museum,” writes Patricia Daunt in Cornucopia 39. Peace in high summer might be at a premium in the capital of the Mediterranean coast. Its population of around a million is the fastest growing in Turkey, and in 2011 10 million arrivals made it the world’s third most visited city. There is a reason people come here, of course, mainly for its climate and two peerless beaches, Konyaaltı and Lara, backed by the noble grey peaks of the Taurus. The discerning visitor will appreciate its old town, founded by the Pergamum King Attalos, and the advantages it affords for visiting nearby classical sites.
Yivli Minare, a fluted red-brick 13th-century minaret, is a symbol of a city that has been important to successive Romans, Byzantines and Seljuks. The clock tower beside it also dates from the 13th century and marks the extent of the old city walls that include a fine arch put up for Hadrian’s visit. Inside is Kaleiçi, the old town, where Ottoman houses do duty as hotels. Kaleiçi is built on a limestome plateau and its steep streets lead down to the attractive Roman port. In the 1990s a new harbour was built 10km (6 miles) to the west, and the fish market relocated there, too.
Lying in a wide plain, Antalya is surrounded on three sides by snow-capped mountains that offer climbing and cave exploration. To the north of the city in Güllük Dağı National Park are the ruins of ancient Termessus, while along the road eastwards towards Alanya are a string of ruins: Perge, Syllyon, Aspendos, Side and Alarhan. Roman statuary from Perge is a key element in Antalya’s important Archaeological Museum. The Culture Routes Society (KRD), which organises long-distance walks in Turkey, has its head office in Antalya.
The airport is 12km north of the city.