Orient meets Occident
Antalya Old Town, also called Kaleiçi - is the picturesque old quarter in the center of present day Antalya. With its narrow winding streets and historic wooden houses, bars and restaurants, it's a place worth wandering around.
Did you know that 15 of the world’s top 100 hotels are in Antalya, according to the worldwide survey of customer satisfaction conducted among 35 million people? Also, did you know that world-class golf clubs of Antalya are among the favorites of internationally famous golfers? I’m sure you didn’t know that the city was visited by Attalos, and subsequently by queens and emperors such as Cleopatra and Hadrian, but what you do know is – this is a place you want to visit at least once in your lifetime.
When you do, don’t spend all your time in luxury resort. Spend a few hours in so called Kaleiçi, the Antalya Old Town. It is the cliff-top fortress neighborhood full of elegant garden cafes and charming ramshackle eateries, all built atop pre-Roman, Roman, and Byzantine foundations.
The hassling to get you to empty your wallet notwithstanding, it is a charming area of restored Greek houses, Italian villas, and Ottoman Pasas’ residences, some converted into guesthouses and hotels in a maze of winding narrow cobbled streets. At the base of the cliff is the harbor and marina, built over an ancient Roman harbor and now the center of the city’s resort nightlife.
The neighborhood has undergone a transformation from its former, dusty and neglected self and is now bejeweled with its original, restored timber-framed mansions embracing fragrant garden courtyards. You can happily stay within the winding streets of Kaleiçi, as I did, hardly noticing the big urban conglomeration all around. On the hilltop above the harbor are tea gardens and bars with views that extend south to the Bey Mountains right.
Start your walking tour at the Republic Square. Next to the Atatürk monument you have a wonderful view over the old part of town.
The Yivli Minare Mosque is a symbol of the city (a big tower on the previous photo). Opposite the mosque you will find a souvenir shop where you can taste a traditional home-made herbal syrup that does not only taste good but has a certain healing power. To enter the mosque, you will need to take off your shoes.
Try different traditional Turkish sweets and learn how they are made from a local sweets maker. Do not buy those at the airport – you will be charged double there!
In the backyard of the carpet shop you can explore how traditional Turkish hand-made carpets are knotted. Or you can get a doctor examination…
The ice-cream guys are performing a spectacular show for their customers. And the ice-cream is not bad at all either.
Have some rest at Shisha Lounge. Here you can enjoy another traditional Turkish treat – nargila. Don’t forget to take some selfies while you are at it.
A nazar amulet is an eye-shaped thing believed to protect against the evil eye. The owner of this little shop is producing these amulets himself and explains the meaning of this Typical Turkish symbol.
At the harbor you can board one of the wooden boats to take a short ride to enjoy a beautiful view and listen to interesting background info and seaman stories.
Don’t forget to try some street food… When in Turkey – you should do pistachios, of course!