"The Inner Castle"

Antal7The most hauntingly historical part of Antalya, Kaleiçi is a discreet haven of antiquity that wraps itself around the harbour and feels, with its exuberant date palms and luscious banana plants, like a world apart from the sometimes humdrum rest of the town.

What makes it so particularly charming is that it retains much of its old Ottoman architecture - think Safranbolu on sea and you’ll get the general picture. Although there are still plenty of buildings that are barely able to support the weight of their own decrepitude, many others have either been restored and converted into bijou hotels, or have been painstakingly reconstructed to look as good as new.

Kaleiçi slopes downhill from what were once the old city walls. At the foot of the slope the pretty harbour gazes out over the azure sea and a range of exquisite, misty mountains. The same view is on offer from the landscaped park that stretches out on the eastern side of the walls and makes the perfect place for an evening stroll before hitting the clubs and restaurants.

The great thing about staying in Kaleiçi is that there are lots of minor historic monuments right on your doorstep.

One of the most obvious entry points to Kaleici is from Kale Kapısı beside the old Ottoman clock tower. This will take you down past the graceful 18th-century Tekeli Mehmet Paşa Cami which seems to belong to a different world from that of the tourist shops below it. Look out, too, for the lovely 12th-century Yıvlı Minare (Grooved Minaret), the backdrop for many a tourist-board photograph.Antal6

Alternatively you can pass through the walls from Atatürk Caddesi (along which the tram runs) using the extraordinary Hadrian’s Gate (AKA Üçkapısı). This triple-arched monumental gateway has been standing guard over a stretch of rutted marble road since  it was built to commemorate the Emperor Hadrian's visit in the second century. Hard though it is to believe it now, the gateway only repaired during reconstruction work on the walls in 1950s; until then it had been obscured from view by later work.

Deep inside Kaleiçi a popular landmark is the Korkut (Truncated) Minare, the shattered remnant of a minaret attached to the Selçuk Korkut Cami which was built over the ruins of a Byzantine church, itself built on the site of a second-century temple. Sadly, the site is fenced off although you can glimpse the mish-mash of masonry belonging to its different incarnations through the gate.

Nearby is the delightful Suna and İnan Kıraç Kaleiçi Museum (closed Wednesdays) housed partly inside an Ottoman house and partly inside a beautifully restored 19th-century church. The church contains a thought-provoking collection of Çanakkale pottery, a kitschy style of ceramics that is suddenly very fashionable.

Antal8Come here, too, to see pictures of Antalya as it was in the days before the modern town spread its tentacles in all directions.

Eating and drinking

Kaleiçi offers dining opportunities to suit all tastes and pockets with some inevitably marking up their prices to take account of the location.

The harbour restaurants in particular come with price tags that reflect the premium views rather than the quality of the food, although there are places closer to the headland such as the Castle Restaurant that are just as inviting but considerably cheaper.


After Safranbolu, the Kaleiçi probably boasts the best choice of Ottoman-house hotels hidden away in the old, walled Kaleiçi district. There’s something to suit every taste here, with some of the hotels lavishly decorated in Ottoman style while others favour a modernist look.

Every wallet is also catered for - even those on backpacker budgets will be able to find an Ottoman house to accommodate them.

One caveat for purists -  although a few of the Kaleiçi hotels such as the Atelya Pansiyon and the Ninova are genuine restorations of old buildings, many are reconstructions, the original building having proved beyond repair.

Atelya Pansiyon Tel: 0242-241 6416

Blue Sea Garden Hotel

Candles House

Dogan Hotel Tel: 0242-241 8842, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., Memerli Banyo Sokak No. 5, Kaleici

Hotel Hadrianus

Minyon Townhouse Tel: 0242-247 1147, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., Tabakhane Sokak No. 31, Kaleici

Ninova Pension Tel: 0242-248 6114

Sabah Pansiyon

Tütav Türk Evi Otelleri Tel: 0242-248 6591

Tuvana Hotel 
Tel: 0242-244 4054, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., Karanli Sokak No. 18, Kaleici

Villa Verde

Transport info

Kaleiçi is a largely pedestrianized zone which makes it perfect for those who like to be able to amble at their leisure.

To reach it take the AntRay tram to the İsmetpaşa stop, walk down to the crossroads, then either walk straight ahead and enter through Hadrian's Gate or turn right and walk down from beside the Ottoman clocktower.




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