Kaleici, Antalya also referred to “Old Town Antalya” is the historical city center, which offers a majestic array of things to do while visiting Turkey’s Mediterranean coast. Most people think of turquoise water, sandy beaches, and cabanas, but this well-preserved historical Old-Town; Kaleici, has so much more to offer travelers. Located at the heart of Antalya, Kaleici is an excellent tourist destination any time of the year with museums, robust social scene, and nightlife.
Kaleici is one of the most quaint and desirable historical towns in Turkey.
When visiting a historical city with colorful buildings and cobblestone streets we might ask ourselves how exciting it would be to live in such a place. Well, my husband and I did just that! We found a villa to rent and moved to Kaleici, discovering why so many tourists visit this area of the Antalya province. Kaleici was once surrounded by tall walls of thick stones and was built like a fort. Its port became one of the busiest and most desired ports in the Anatolia region and therefore it was the subject of many battles as various rulers fought to control the city and its port.
The Turkish government spent has been busy working to restore and preserve the ancient history that once existed here. Kaliese’s historical organization transformed this area of Antalya into a beautiful and unique place to visit. Here you will find decades of history from Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine, Seljuk, and Ottoman times.
Kaleici is one of the most popular centers in all of Antalya. Lined with old small villas and each with unique door and windows, outdoor dining restaurants, souvenir shops, nightlife, and many boutique hotels, make Kaleici a great tourist destination. The local municipality “Belediye”, does an excellent job with keeping the narrow streets and pathways clean and beautified with potted plants and flowery hanging baskets throughout all Kaleici. You may find a bench arched with jasmine, giving you the most amazing fragrance and a great place to snap a photo!
Explore 21 interesting things to see and do in Kaleici:
(click on the site to discover the location on the map)
Clock Tower – The Clock Tower of Antalya was built in 1901 by Grand Vizier Sait Pasha during the reign of Ottoman Sultan Abdulhamid II. The clock dial can be seen on all four sides of the 14-meter-high tower, and it has a bell at the top, the oldest part of the tower.
The Mosque of Tekeli Mehmet Pasha – It was built by Grand Vizier Founder Murat Pasha in 1570. It is covered with a high dome on a ten-sided pulley. Currently, this mosque is under renovation and may not be open for viewing.
Yivli Minaret (Grooved Minaret) – This Seljuk Minaret is the symbol of the city of Antalya. Located in the hear of the city this 40-meter (131 ft.) high symbol was restored in 1955 but still has many of the historical characteristics such as the blue tile decorations. A 13th-century mosque once accompanied at the foot of minaret but only a few ruins remain.
Yivliminare Mosque – Commonly referred to as Aladdin Mosque. This mosque is a part of a group of structures, Kulliyet that comprises of Dervish lodge, Seljuk Giyaseddin Keyhusrev Medrese, and vaults of Zincirkiran and Nigar Hatun. The mosque is most well-known for the Yivli Minare (fluted minaret), which stands 40-meters in height and is decorated using dark blue colored porcelain tiles. This mosque once operated as a church but was converted in 1230 by Seljuk sultan.
Mevlevihan Museum – The Mevlevihane structure is located near the clock tower. It is believed that the structure was built in the 15th century as a private bathhouse for one of the members of the Ottoman dervish dancers. Many interesting artifacts are to be seen inside the museum. Visiting Hours: Museums, Sunday and Monday days 8:30 to 17:30 between the hours.
Kaleici Elevator – Kaleici is a settlement that starts from a cliff and descends to the sea. A lift was installed to make the beach and marina more accessible to tourists. At sea level, you can visit a few souvenir shops or enjoy a meal at one of the restaurants overlooking the marina.
Antalya Toy Museum – If you enjoy antique children’s toys, this a fun place to visit. Cartoon hero’s such as Ash Cat, Micky Mouse, and Smurf can be seen throughout the museum. Over three thousand toys to see throughout the museum.
Kaleici Marina– Hop on a boat tour from Kaleici marina. Depending on what you desire, you can take an hourly tour or rent a private boat for the day. Some of the most reasonable boat tours depart at 10 am and go to places like Konyaaltı Beach, Falezler and Caltiacak. The boat will stop at a few spots and allow you to swim. Tours typically end around 4 pm.
The marina played a significant role during the Byzantine period, as one of the most popular port cities of the Mediterranean. Today, the marina has been modernized but is recognized as one of the most historical places in Antalya.
Antalya Marine Biology Museum – Located on the harbor, contains over 500 kinds of sea creatures. The creation of this museum was inspired by a doctoral thesis by Elif Ozgur Ozbek. On display include various fish, sponges, corals, shrimps, lobsters and crabs, crustaceans, octopus, squid and jugs, starfish, and sea urchins. The museum is closed on Mondays. It can be visited between 09:30 and 18:30 on Tuesday-Sunday.
Kırk Merdiven (Forty Steps) built in the 15th century when trading between Egypt and Antalya was at its peak, providing 44 steps from the port-marina into Kaleici. These steps can be found at the center of the marina, extending along the city wall which encloses northern parts of the acropolis of the settlement by the Venetians. Stories are shared about these stairs at the Antalya Museum.
Iskele Mosque is a four-pillar walled mosque, constructed in the 19th century near the Kirk Merdiven and marina.
Mermerli Beach – Located next to the marina, set behind a cliff, is a beach. It became Mermerli Beach when an observation deck was installed on the hill. This beach is popular with those staying at the pension/hotels in Kaleici so grab a sunbed and arrive early to get a spot.
Antalya Ethnography Museum, which will be exhibited in two mansions, located at different elevations in a sloping area, dating back to the 19th century. Mansion #1 you will find Turkish-Islamic works, Seljuk ceramic tiles, and tiles from Aspendos Theater in addition some artifacts discovered unearthed in Kaleici. You will also find Ottoman weapons used in battles and calligraphy decorating the walls and floor. Mansion #2 you discover a reflection of the Ottoman life in Antalya. Wooden ceiling, door, window sashes, door knockers, and weaving examples of rugs. Visit the garden to see the 13th century Seljuk Horoscope Inscriptions.
Kecili Park – Visit the observation terrace that has a balcony made of glass with a wonderful view of the marina. Next to the observation terrace is Kecili Park, where you will find goat statues made of wood, along with a beautiful landscape. Near to the park are cafes where you can enjoy a cup of tea or any type of drink you wish
Holly Stone Performance Hall – This is an event center and many musical events are scheduled here. Check the calendar and come back in the evening for a fun night in Old Town Kaleici.
Karatay Madrasa was built by Celaleddin Karatay in 1250 and has been mentioned in some sources as Karadayı Mosque. Admire the beautiful architect of the iwan and the ornate motifs embroidered in niches along the walls.
Hadrian Castle Gate – Hadrian Gate is one of the best-preserved structures in Antalya. The gate was built in 130 AD in the name of Roman emperor Hadrianus and, because it wasn’t used for a long time, it remained undamaged to this day. You’ll definitely have to pass under this elegant, ancient structure, which has two towers on each side of it, built-in different centuries. Admire the white marble columns as you walk through the gate!
Suna-İnan Kıraç Kaleici Museum – Located in one of Kaleici’ s traditional homes from the 9th century and the Aya Yorgi (Agios Georgios) Church. In the house part of the museum, you’ll be able to see Antalya’s traditional architectural and mannequins depicting scenes of what life was like as Antalya became a port city of Turkey. The other building that is part of the museum is the Aya Yorgi Church that dates back to 1863. Visiting Hours: Open every day except Wednesday from 9 am to 6 pm.
Hıdırlık Tower – The Hıdırlık Tower is located on the southwest corner of the fortress walls of Kaleiçi. The tower dates back to the 17th century and served as a watchtower and later as a lighthouse. It is located at the side of Karaalioğlu Park, which covers an area of 140,000 square meters. Nearby are ice cream stands as well as many café and restaurants to stop and enjoy the view of mountains or coastline.
Ataturk House and Museum – This museum aims to commemorate the visits of the first president of the Turkish Republic in the 1930s, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. Although the current building is just a replica of the house where Atatürk stayed, the exhibitions inside demonstrate the vision he had for his country and the love and devotion of the people of Antalya. Visiting Hours: Open daily except Mondays. From April to October, it is open from 9:00 am to 7:30 pm and in the winter – from 8:30 am to 5:30 pm. The admission to the museum is free of charge.
As you wander about in Old Town, Kaleici, remember that you are stepping back in time as the Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine, Seljuk, and Ottoman people and the leader of the Republic of Turkey once roamed the cobblestone streets. Admire the colorful villas, as well as some unique boutique hotels and hostels. Take time to pick up a few souvenirs or purchase handmade items crafted in Turkey. Enjoy a meal at one of the restaurants or return in the evening to enjoy live music at one of the many pubs and bars.
I hope you enjoy your travels to Turkey and follow me at Traveling Lens Photography social media to read about my worldly travel as well as my experience of living as an expat in this very beautiful region of Turkey…. Antalya!