Antalya old town, Kaleici Antalya

Updated: 04 March 2014 Created: 23 February 2014
Antalya is a Turkish city that is rich in culture and history.  To truly experience all that is Antalya, you should make sure to visit Kaleici, the central city of old Antalya with its fortified castle and antique harbour. Not to be ignored is Antalya’s status as Turkey’s largest sea resort area, nor its location on the Turkish Riviera.
Antalya KaleiciWith its real estate and tourist boom in full effect, Antalya’s population is well over one million full time residents.  In fact, Antalya is only surpassed by Istanbul in population growth rate. Until recently, historically speaking, all of Antalya was contained inside the walls of Kaleici. The city name translates to “inside the kale” and a kale is another word for a fortress or castle.  Within the walls you will see buildings from multiple periods, including the Ottoman, Byzantine and Roman periods.

There are many treasures to see in Kaleici.  Of particular note is Hadrian’s Gate.  This beautiful 3 arch gate managed to survive multiple sieges on the city largely because it was actually inside the city and couldn’t be seen by marauders.  Locals share that the Queen of Sheba passed through the gate on her journey to see King Solomon.

You should also see the Hidirlik Tower.  This fortification sites on the corner of the city, close to the sea.  Although it was started on a square base, the tower was ultimately built in a circle.  Some believe this was because of a greater understanding of a circular structure’s ability to absorb an assault versus a square or rectangular structure.  This tower must have been valued through the ages as there are clear signs of restoration that date to the Ottoman period.

Old Harbour in KaleiciChurches in Europe were often re-purposed after a town was taken by invaders.  The Kesik Minare is a good example of this.  Although originally built as a Roman temple, it was rededicated as a Byzantine church during the 7th century.  Then, it was re-purposed again as a mosque by the Sultanate of Rum in the 10th century.  As part of this process, the minaret, or tower, was added.  It returned to a church in the 1300s under Cypress’ crusading king, but once again became a mosque later.  Sadly, after surviving all of that change, the mosque was destroyed by fire in 1846, but the minaret still stands today.

Finally, you should visit the Yivliminare Cami.  This complex includes a mosque, Dervish lodge (think whirling dervishes) and an extraordinary minaret that rises over one hundred feet into the air.  The newest construction of the mosque has six domes, a highly unusual design feature and the oldest known multi-dome mosque.  You can view amazing artefacts from many periods as the mosque is now a museum.

You’ll have a hard time finding newly constructed buildings in Kaleici because the entire central city is a preservation district, but you will see some amazing restorations and remodels of old structures with new uses including hotels, shops and restaurants. As a matter of fact, some of Antalya's best kept secrets are the boutique hotels in Kaleici, Antalya that have been restored from old Ottoman Hidirlik Tower Antalyahouses. Two wonderful boutique hotels are the Villa Perla and Mediterra Art Hotel.  Both are less than 20 rooms.  Villa Perla is actually a restored home from the Ottoman period.  You can enjoy Turkish coffee under an orange tree in the garden.  The Mediterra Art Hotel was restored from an original stone building, including maintaining a Greek architecture pub on the property.  This hotel received a design award from Trivago in 2009.

Restaurants are plentiful and offer typical Turkish cuisine and service.  Fresh seafood is always on the menu, but you can also order sampler platters, known as mezze.  Save room for amazing desserts and some strong Turkish coffee and don’t feel like you have to rush through your meal as this would be considered rude in Turkey.  If you want to try a local treat, ask for Piyaz, made with tahini, which is a sesame paste, beans, garlic and walnuts.  Or, you can enjoy tahini and hummus.

You can also travel outside the walls of the old city a short distance and enjoy some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, because Antalya is located on the world-famous Turquoise Coast.  The water is warm and beautiful and so are the people.  You can enjoy a cool cocktail under the shade of the many beach-front bars or grab your snorkel gear and explore the turquoise water.

Boutique hotel Medi Terra Antalya KaleiciAlthough there are very few real estate investment opportunities within the city’s walls, you can shift a short distance outside the center city and find an amazing inventory of available real estate in Konyaalti or Lara beach areas.  If you haven’t considered Turkish property for your real estate investment, you are missing excellent pricing, favourable regulation and well-designed and well-built properties.  In Turkey, you can directly own real estate as a foreigner, so perhaps it’s time for you to purchase that first buy-to-let property and enjoy the rapidly increasing values over the next several years?

It’s actually very easy to get lost in Kaleici because the streets start to all look alike.  In fact, for fun you might want to grab a drink or Turkish coffee and watch tourists walking by with confused looks and pointing in all different directions.  It almost feels like a bad episode of the Three Stooges until you are the one trying to find your way back to your hotel.

If you enjoy history and particularly seeing an ancient city where multiple cultures have collided, you’ll want to spend several days in Kaleici, Antalya.  Whether you are touring through the many historic structures or just enjoying the wonderful weather with friends, you are certain to enjoy this Turkish jewel on the Turkish Riviera.

Kesik Minare Antalya housesWhy buy property in Kaleici, Antalya
Kaleici of Antalya is a highly touristic area.  Its bustling authentic streets are always full of Turkish and foreign tourists checking out souvenir shops, haggling for Turkish carpets or merely admiring beautifully renovated Ottoman houses of Kaleici.
There are very few residential properties for sale in Kaleici, Antalya, so few that when they do come on the market, they get snapped pretty quickly and usually at hefty prices. There are, however, still a handful of old houses remaining that require restoration and renovation works. If you have the right sort of budget and contacts to undertake a renovation project, then indeed this would be a viable investment in Antalya's old historic quarter. Please make sure you don't pay over the top, however.  Do not get carried away with the mystic and splendour of the area, make sure that you have your business cap on when shopping for renovation projects in Kaleici.
Due to high demand, hotels in Kaleici enjoy up to 80% occupancy year round and daily rates range from around Euro 50 to Euro 150 for the more accredited boutique hotels. Therefore, provided you purchase at a reasonable price, renovating an old building and operating it as a boutique hotel may be a highly rewarding lifestyle and business proposition for the right buyer.

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