If wondrous Cappadocia in Turkey is on you bucket list, prepare to take a long ride. Not sure if it’s more distant to come from the west (from the Aegean Sea and Istanbul), or from the southern Mediterranean. Perhaps the best way is to go from Ankara and than still spend hours and hours on the road.
The second century town
We landed in Antalya on the southern coastline and than took the bus ride for the next 600 kilometers or so through the mountains, with constant pressure changing in our ears because of the altitude, and endless yawning to equalize it. The nature along the way is beautiful and generous, reminding us to the one back home in Serbia with picturesque mountain range, rivers that cut through, forests and greens.
But, we have planed to spend few days in Antalya first and to wander around a bit. Tourists usually come here because of the sea and sandy beaches. But, keep in mind that before becoming “just another town with palm threes”, luxury and stared hotels, this town actually dated back to the second century BC being important seaside stronghold for numerous invaders.
Pergamon king Attalos the Second gave it his own name – Attleia. Later it became interesting to conquerors from Rome, Byzantine, for Seljuks and Ottomans. The old strong walls were built to secure the city and its remains are still to be seen from the Marina.
Marina and The Clock tower
The Marina itself is a vivid place, gathering point for tourists and locals, and hard to pass through without being offered some “genuine local cruise”.
It seems that every now and than some small boat comes and goes, along with all the others already anchored.
Looking from Marina, there on your right, there is a long rocky hill with a lot of cafes and restaurants spread around and breath taking view of the sea. But on your left, the town climbs up the hill, with authentic atmosphere one cannot perceive without stepping into those small narrow streets. The Clock tower seems to hoist above your head, right next to those ancient walls. It was part of the old fortified city once.
The charming old Kaleichi
When going into the old Antalya, the so called Kaleichi district, one is to be welcomed by the spectrum of colors of carpets, flowers, handcrafts, all typical for Turkey, and beautiful small authentic houses.
Narrow paved street takes you down the hill, while passing by various window decorations with wrought iron, geraniums and oleanders.
At the top a lot of small streets intersecting under the square angle, so narrow that even a cart would not be able to pass through. A bit wider promenade with old craft stores around. Frippery salesman with the goods in so many colors that there is no way to single out even one of them, nods gently to us, being kind enough to smile for a photo.
Damaged minaret overlooking church ruins
Behind those lovely gates, pleasant restaurants and hotels appear.
The district is renovated on few spots, but in accordance with the authentic old charm.
Passing by the minaret, we notice it seems unfinished or has just withstood the ravages of time. Actually, the story goes like this: a mosque was built here after the Christian church was demolished at the same spot. Christians say that God “didn’t forget” this deed and thus sent a thunder at the minaret. The minaret was really hit by a thunder and was damaged, overlooking those church ruins. Interesting scene all together.
When exiting Kaleichi, we were heading towards another surprise – well preserved, nicely decorated three-archered Hadrian’s Gate.
This Roman inheritance was built to honor Hadrian when he visited the city in 130 AD.
After the Gate, wide modern boulevard spreads. Turn right and you will stumble upon one the best ice creams you have ever had with such variety of flavors.
Few minutes from there and you will end up on the beach. There is still enough time to enjoy your vacation and just rest by the sea.
While going down to the beach, look at those mountain peaks surrounding the area from this side. They peak out of the mist, the Taurus Mountain range that gives Antalya specific refreshing breeze.
Try to relax and recharge, since there are a lot of kilometers ahead when you continue your trip towards the famous Cappadocia.
(Published in Serbian web portal BalkanMagazin in August, 2008)