Friday, June 08, 2012

Friday, June 08, 2012

This is a part of my travel bucket list this season that should include Antalya, Olympos and Fethiye.

First stop - Antalya.

I was actually aiming for Olympos but I hit a bargain airfare online from Istanbul to Antalya via OnurAir so I might as well stay a night or two in Antalya.  Staying at Kaleici or the historical part of town is the best base to explore the ancient sights of the city.  The charm of any old city or town always fascinates me.

Kaleici means "inside the castle" or fortress.  In the old times, the city of Antalya was confined within the walls of Kaleici.  Stroll around the cobblestone streets and get lost amongst its narrow alleys,  and one will uncover several sights to see - old mosques, churches, historical hammams, ottoman era mansions, dilapidated wooden houses, bazaars, quaint cafes and the dramatic amber color of the streets from the hanging lamp posts along dark alleys during the night time.

I’m not a big fan of group tours, I seldom join one as I usually go for the DIY.  I may get lost but it’s a part of the fun, besides, I figured out the night before how I’m gonna do the “walking tour” of Antalya’s historical district.  Google map comes in handy along with some helpful sites.

Some people start the walk at the busy main thoroughfare along the tram route where the clock tower is, but since I was staying at the Kaleici, I started my walk from the nearby Hadrian’s Gate.  

Antalya's famous city icon, the Hadrian's Gate is located along the main Ataturk Street in Kaleici.   It was built in honor of the Roman Emperor Hadrian's visit to Antalya during the year 130. The turkish call this gate the Uckapilar which means 3 gates owing to its 3 arches. You can climb up the stairs of the two towers on either sides of the gate.  It also passage through to the historical town.

Hadrian's Gate.

I continued walking along Ataturk Cadessi until Ismet Pasha Cadessi looking for the Kesik Minare Mosque.  Also known as The Korkut (or truncated minaret) Mosque, Kesik Minare is a complex that used to be a Roman temple during the 2nd century AD, a Byzantine Church was built over it in the 6th century AD, and converted to a mosque during the Selcuk period but in 1361 when Antalya fell to the Cyprus King Peter I, it was converted to a church. It again began to be used as a mosque during the reign of Sultan Beyazid II's son - Prince Korkut - (1470 - 1509). The mosque continued to be used as a place of worship until 1896, when it was largely destroyed by a fire which destroyed the upper section, thereby the name “truncated mosque”.

The complex is gated and enclosed by steel fences but you’ll see the structures inside overgrown with weeds.

I headed back to Ismet Pasha Cad. on to the main thoroughfare along the tram route for the famous Clock Tower.  It is perhaps the best starting point for a walking tour, but I chose sights I want to see and add some more so I started at the Hadrian’s Gate.  The clock tower is the only tower left out of the 80 that made up the ancient walls surrounding the old city.

The Clock Tower and Tekeli Mehmet Pasha Mosque.

Few steps from the clock tower is the Tekeli Mehmet Pasha Mosque.  Probably not as big as those stunning mosques in Istanbul yet this 18th century mosque with a tall single minaret is one of the most important Ottoman mosque in Antalya and I think one of the most attended mosque for prayers among the people around the center because of its central location.

A little down the cobblestone street lined with shops almost beside the previous mosque is the “fluted minaret” Grand Mosque of Antalya, also known as Alaaddin or Yivli Minare Mosque built during the reign of Seljukian Sultan Alaaddin Keykubad I.  Like most grand mosque around the country, it is a part of a big complex that includes a madrasa, mosque and a dervish lodge.  The 125-foot tall 8-fluted minaret dominates the skyline of the old town. Presently, it houses the Antalya Ethnographic Museum.

The fluted minaret of  the Alaaddin Mosque dominates the skyline.

From the Alaaddin Mosque, I walked down the alleys of the Kaleici on to the quayside.  The Roman Harbor or Eski Liman serves as the city’s life line since the 2nd century.  The Kaleici's sprawling old mansions were built around the harbor. There are restaurants up the stairs from the marina.  Several yachts and boats are anchored here offering hourly cruises. The long narrow breakwater down the middle has a watchtower at the far end.  A swimming beach area can be found on the left side of the breakwater. Traces of Roman architectures can be seen on the facade of the hill enclave of the marina.

The marina.
 From the marina I walked up back to the main thoroughfare to Yavuz Ozcan Park.  It is the most popular park in the city planted with several trees and plants, some ponds, colorful lighted fountains at night and waterfalls that plummets to the ocean below.  

I ended my walking tour at one of the caf├ęs beside the waterfalls at the park on the edge of the cliff overlooking the endless blue sea sipping a hot tea.

Heading back to my accommodation I passed by a shop with an old man making and selling some beautiful clay statues.


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