Antalya first came to the limelight with the discovery of the Karain Cave, one of the oldest human settlements in the world. It hosted many civilisations from near and far thanks to its favourable climate and abundant plant and animal life. Located in southwest Anatolia, the Gulf of Antalya was known as the Gulf of Pamphylia in ancient times. Even though Antalya was established much later than other cities on the Gulf like Side, Aspendos, Perge and Phaselis,it grew at a rapid pace due to its natural harbour and its mountain passes which enabled access to the interior regions.
While these prominent cities of the past were abandoned over time, Antalya not only continued to exist, but flourished and is today one of the most important cities in the Mediterranean region. In the second half of the 20th century, strides made in the tourism sector bore fruit in a very short time. With its natural environment, historical attractions and world-class facilities Antalya has become one of the most important tourist centres in the world.
Antalya was established in the second century BC by the King of Pergamum Attalos II on the northernmost edge of the Gulf of Pamphylia, at the bay where todays harbour is situated. The harbour was chosen because it didn’t accumulate silt and because of the freshwater resources nearby. The city was encircled with city walls in the century following its establishment. There are many gates built along the city walls leading to the harbour. The most imposing gate was built in the name of the Roman emperor Hadrian, who visited Antalya in the 2ndcentury. The gate still stands today.
The area within the city walls was divided into living and production areas. Harbour structures, residences, streets connecting the different quarters, shrines, baths, fountains, agoras, administrative and military buildings and breakwaters to secure the harbour were built. With the beginning of Seljuk rule in the 13th century, two separate inner walls were built due to security concerns. Thus it was divided into three different living quarters connected to each other through several gates. According to historical sources, the city began to grow beyond the city walls, and with an increase in the dense settlements around it, began to be known as Kaleiçi (Inner Castle).