Kaleiçi is the old historic centre of Antalya built around a picturesque old Roman harbour, lined with restaurants & cafes. From the harbour a maze of narrow streets filled with restored Ottoman houses stretch upwards towards the walls of the once fortified old city. Exploring Kaleiçi you find a fantastic selection of boutiques, restaurants, pensions, medreses, hamams, ancient mosques, antiquated churches, Turkish rugs and some beautifully restored Ottoman style boutique hotels.The courtyards and streets are lined with palm fronds and fine fruit trees under which you will often find a man shading from the sun who will polish your shoes for a small price.The winding streets and hidden courtyards of Kaleiçi will quickly have those of a curious nature peeking and peering into private gardens, windows and speculating on the price of doing your own restoration.
Kaleiçi is a protected area and was awarded the Golden Apple of Tourism in 1984,you will still see the odd dilapidated Ottoman house but most of these are being rapidly restored by the local Kaleiçi restoration association.
Down by the harbour there is a small but beautiful beach surrounded by cliffs that you can access by steps through the restaurant for a small charge. The old harbour is a nice relaxing place to take an evening stroll and you will have no difficulty in finding a nice restaurant or bar to pass the time in.
Once close to the dockside the touts will be there calling to see if you are interested to go for a boat trip the next day,my advice is to book one, it’s a extremely nice way to spend the day, food is included in the price and you will usually get to see one of the areas of local interest from the sea (waterfalls, secluded beaches or tidal caves) last time I went we explored the tidal caves to the west of Antalya. There will also be plenty of time to dive from the boat, swim and sunbathe. When booking a boat trip always compare the prices with other touts and always haggle, the Turks pay half the price of the tourist so with a bit of gentle persuasion you should be able to get a better price.
Staying in Kaleiçi
I would thoroughly recommend staying in Kaleiçi if you are booking a holiday in Antalya; there is a good range of boutique hotels and pensions from the moderately priced to the luxurious. You also get to savour the old style atmosphere away from the hustle and bustle of modern Antalya, there is a wide variety of restaurants in easy walking distance and you are in the centre of the city so everything is easily accessible. However if you are travelling with children you may want to consider one of the more family orientated resorts.
For those wanting a bit more dancing in your night life there is a superb open air nightclub in the northern side of Kaleiçi that overlooks the harbour, complete with girls in hot-pants dancing on podiums, toilet attendants with exotic perfumes, laser light show and a chill out area overlooking the Mediterranean. Although be aware that single men will be approached by Natasha’s plying their trade, literally if you are with you girlfriend and she goes to toilet they’re there two seconds later asking if you would like to buy them a drink, probably best to say no unless you fancy explaining to the misses why you are drinking with a Russian working girl that looks like a model. The entrance to the club is up the hill in the maze of streets.
There is no exact date for how long Kaleiçi has been inhabited but it is said to have been founded by Attalos II king of Pergamum approximately 150 BC. The story goes that Attalos sent his subordinates out carrying the following orders ‘Find a place that should be the envy of all kings and princes, a place to draw all eyes. Discover paradise for me.’ Upon finding what is now Kaleiçi word was sent back to the King who declared it as heaven on Earth. He then founded the city naming it naming it Attalia (although archaeological remains suggest inhabitance in the third century BC) after himself. The city became a Roman city after the death of Attalos III who bequeathed the Pergamum Empire to Rome in his will. The city prospered as a center of trade and naval activity under roman rule, and is mentioned in the book of Acts due to a visit by St Paul (Acts 14:25 And when they had preached the word in Perga, they went down into Attalia, and thence sailed to Antioch.)
The Seljuk Turks took the city from the Byzantium Empire in the 13th century under Turkish rule the city continued to prosper, and was divided into different walled area’s partitioned by race and religion, Kaleiçi was divided into a Greek quarter, Armenian quarter, Jewish quarter and the King and his Mamluks, the rest of the Muslims lived in the main city. The gates between quarters were locked at night. Surrounding the entire city were thick stone walls said to extend into the sea accessed by fortified gates, a fine example of these gates is Hadrian's Gate (Hadriyanüs Kapisi)a large tripe arched gateway into Kaleiçi where you can still see the grooves in the pavement carved in the stone by the passing of many carts.