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Located on Anatolia's flourishing southwest coast bordered by the Taurus Mountains, Antalya is the largest Turkish city on the Mediterranean. Antalya is Turkey's biggest international sea resort, located on the Turkish Riviera. The peninsula west of Antalya is called Teke Peninsula.
Variants of name
The city was founded as "Attaleia" (Ancient Greek: Ἀττάλεια), named after its founder Attalos II, king of Pergamon. This name, still in use in Greek, was later evolved in Turkish as Adalia and then Antalya. Attaleia was also the name of a festival at Delphi and Attalis (Greek: Ἀτταλίς) was the name of an old Greek tribe at Athens. Despite the close similarity, there is no connection with the name Anatolia.
The city that is now Antalya was first settled around 200 BC by the Attalid dynasty of Pergamon, which was soon subdued by the Romans. Roman rule saw Antalya thrive, including the construction of several new monuments, such as Hadrian's Gate, and the proliferation of neighboring cities. The city has changed hands several times, including to the Seljuk Sultanate in 1207 and an expanding Ottoman Empire in 1391. Ottoman rule brought relative peace and stability for the next five hundred years. The city was transferred to Italian suzerainty in the aftermath of World War I, but was recaptured by a newly independent Turkey in the War of Independence.
King Attalus II of Pergamon is looked on as founder of the city in about 150 BC, during the Hellenistic period. It was named Attaleia or Attalia in his honour. The city served as a naval base for Attalus's powerful fleet. Excavations in 2008, in the Doğu Garajı plot, uncovered remains dating to the 3rd century BC, suggesting that Attalea was a rebuilding and expansion of an earlier town. Statue of Attalus II in the city
Attalea became part of the Roman Republic in 133 BC when Attalus III, a nephew of Attalus II bequeathed his kingdom to Rome at his death in 133 BC. The city grew and prospered during the Ancient Roman period and was part of the Roman province of Pamphylia Secunda, whose capital was Perga.
Christianity started to spread to the region even in the 1st century. Antalya was visited by Paul of Tarsus and Barnabas, as recorded in the Acts of the Apostles: "Then they passed through Pisidia and came to Pamphylia. And when they had spoken the word in Perga, they went down to Attalia, and from there they sailed to Antioch".
The 13th-century Seljuk mosque at Attalea, now in ruins, had been a Christian Byzantine basilica from the 7th century. The Great Mosque had also been a Christian basilica and the Kesik Minare Mosque had been the 5th-century Christian Church of the Panaghia or Virgin and was decorated with finely carved marble. The archaeological museum at Attalia houses some sarcophagi and mosaics from nearby Perga and a casket of bones reputed to be those of St. Nicholas, the bishop of Myra, further down the Turquoise coast.
Antalya was a major city in the Byzantine Empire. It was the capital of the Byzantine Theme of the Cibyrrhaeots, which occupied the southern coasts of Anatolia. According to the research of Speros Vryonis, it was the major naval station on the southern Anatolian coast, a major commercial center, and the most convenient harbor between the Aegean Sea and Cyprus and points further east. Besides the local merchants, "one could expect to see Armenians, Saracens, Jews, and Italians."
At the time of the accession of John II Comnenus in 1118 Antalya was an isolated outpost surrounded by Turkish beyliks, accessible only by sea. Following the fall of Constantinople in 1204, Niketas Choniates records that one Aldebrandus, "an Italian by birth who was strictly raised according to Roman tradition" controlled Antalya as his own fief. When Kaykhusraw, sultan of the Seljuk Turks attempted to capture the city in 1206, Aldebrandus sent to Cyprus for help and received 200 Latin infantry who defeated the attackers after a siege of less than 16 days.
The city and the surrounding region were conquered by the Seljuk Turks in the early 13th century. Antalya was the capital of the Turkish beylik of Teke (1321–1423) until its conquest by the Ottomans, except for a period of Cypriot rule between 1361 and 1373. The Arabic traveler Ibn Battuta, who visited the city in 1335–1340, noted:
- From Alanya I went to Antaliya (Adalia), a most beautiful city. It covers an immense area, and though of vast bulk is one of the most attractive towns to be seen anywhere, besides being exceedingly populous and well laid out. Each section of the inhabitants lives in a separate quarter. The Christian merchants live in a quarter of the town known as the Mina [the Port], and are surrounded by a wall, the gates of which are shut upon them from without at night and during the Friday service. The Greeks, who were its former inhabitants, live by themselves in another quarter, the Jews in another, and the king and his court and Mamluks in another, each of these quarters being walled off likewise. The rest of the Muslims live in the main city. Round the whole town and all the quarters mentioned there is another great wall. The town contains orchards and produces fine fruits, including an admirable kind of apricot, called by them Qamar ad-Din, which has a sweet almond in its kernel. This fruit is dried and exported to Egypt, where it is regarded as a great luxury.
- "Antalya". Washington Times. 2006-07-14.
- Frangakis-Syrett, Elena. "The making of an Ottoman port" (PDF). Queens College, City University of New York: 23. Archived from the original (PDF) on 25 May 2015.
- Liddell, Henry George; Scott, Robert. "A Greek-English Lexicon". Perseus project.
- Ἀτταλίς, Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, on Perseus project
- "History of Antalya". Lonely Planet.
- Acts 14:25–26
- Annuario Pontificio 2013 (Libreria Editrice Vaticana 2013 ISBN 978-88-209-9070-1), p. 841
- Vryonis, The decline of medieval Hellenism in Asia Minor: and the process of Islamization from the eleventh through the fifteenth century, (Berkeley: University of California, 1971), pp. 13f
- O City of Byzantium: Annals of Niketas Choniates, translated by Harry J. Magoulias (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1984), p. 351
- "Internet History Sourcebooks". sourcebooks.fordham.edu
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