Top 5 ancient cities you need to see in Antalya, Turkey!

Alara Benlier | Live the World

November 23, 2022

When you first hear "Antalya", you might be thinking of beautiful beaches, a bright sun, 5-star hotels and an amazing time during summer. But let me tell you this; Antalya is blessed with not only amazing climate, but also gorgeous ancient cities and sights! It is no mystery that a lot of civilizations were established in Antalya. Antalya not only hosts 14 million tourists in summer, but also it is home to many ancient structures, ancient cities and of course, natural beauty. So, if you want to explore and learn more about the ancient side of Antalya, here is your guide!  

Picture © Credits to istock/ efesenko

During your explorations, it's best to have a home base in central Antalya to explore these ancient cities. From Antalya, you can then easily do day trips to these sites. I would highly recommend Mai Inci Hotel, as it's own 800 metres away from the beach in Antalya and still super affordable! Another accommodation that you stay at is the White Garden Hotel, which is actually an adult only hotel so rest assured that you won't have any kids running around while you're laying by its pool or cosying up by the fireplace. For those who want to be more immersed, definitely check out the Atelya Art Hotel as this gorgeous accommodation is designed with traditional Ottoman decor - taking you back into a time of nobility right in the heart of Antalya's old town. 

Let's start with Side, an amazing town of Antalya. Side is an ancient Greek city and today's one of the most popular resort towns in Antalya. This ancient city was founded in the 7th century BC and became a very important city, due to its natural geography and beauty. This city hosted many civilizations and even Alexander the Great occupied Side in 333 BC. There are of course, many beautiful sights and amazing nature in here, but one of the most visited places is the Apollo Temple. This temple is not only a breathtaking ancient temple, but it is also where Anthony met Cleopatra! It is known, that he presented the Apollo Temple as a token of his love and devotion to her. This gorgeous temple's architecture dates back to the 2nd century AD, and it is quite outstanding, comparing to the other temples which had a pair of massive Corinthian columns. And of course, it was built in honor of Apollo, the god of light and music. You definitely have to check it out !

Picture © Credits to istock/ pawopa3336

Aspendos is an ancient Greco-Roman city in Serik, Antalya. This gorgeous ancient city is also very close to Alanya. According to Greek legend, the city was founded by Argive colonists, who came to Pamphylia from Athens after the Trojan War. Aspendos has a huge fame with its breathtaking Roman theatre, the best-preserved theatre in Turkey. Today, it is one of the most visited places to see the gorgeous Roman theatre. Many festivals are held in this theatre, either by art associations or by the Turkish government,  when it comes to international activities. The theatre in Aspendos, is the best and most complete Roman theater functionally ever built. It has 21 rows of seats above and 20 rows below -as rich seated below and poor above-classification. Sprawling stairs were made to sit in the audience of the challenges. The women usually sat in the upper rows under the galleries. The theater has a seating capacity of 20,000 spectators. 

Picture © Credits to mahiruysal

Phaselis is an ancient Greek and Roman city, very close to Kemer, Antalya. This gorgeous ancient city lies between the Bey Mountains and the forest of Olympos National Park.  The ancient town around the shore can be accessed from the sea. Phaselis was founded in 690 BC on the border between Lycia and Pamphylia by Greek colonists. It was a very prosperous city, due to its geography and had its trading links stretched as far as Egypt! Phaselis was run by many civilizations and today, the ruins of this ancient city mesmerize everyone who visits its  ancient remains. The place also has three small bays, which make it an excellent swimming spot with nice beaches. 

Picture © Credits to istock/ kotangens

Xanthos ancient city is in Kaş, Antalya. This gorgeous ancient town is famous for its story and ruins! Xanthos was the capital city of Lycians dating back to 3000 BC. With its archaeological value, this amazing place is also in the UNESCO's World Heritage List. In here, you can check out many rock tombs, sarcophagus and monumental tombs made with traditional architecture and Hellenic influence. Not only that, but you can also check its theatre; it has a 2200 person capacity and was built in the Hellenistic Period and renovated in the Roman Period. Its stage building bears the qualities of the Roman Period.

Picture © Credits to istock/ Fatih Ozdemir

And, last but not least, Termessos. Termessos is one of the best preserved of the ancient cities of Turkey, founded by the Solims, who were mentioned by Homer in the Iliad! This is one of the places that Alexander the Great couldn't conquer in 333 BC! It is a little bit of a challenge to reach it, which is also a reason why he couldn't conquer it. To reach the city, you can drive to lower reaches of the ancient city through the Güllük Dağı National Park and then you basically have to climb over rocks and scrubs to get to see some of the higher ruins. But trust me, it is soooo worth it. When you reach the highest ruins, you will be mesmerized by its antique theatre and its incredible views of the surrounding mountain peaks. 

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