Hadrian’s Gate and Antalya’s Old Town
The locals know the gate as Uckapilar, “The Three Gates,” and this is what you’ll need to ask for when you’re trying to find the gate, which is located on the palm-lined Ataturk Street.
Hadrian’s Gate has three arched gates. Once upon a time the structure was enclosed by the city walls, and wasn’t used for a number of years. The gate was only revealed when the surrounding walls collapsed. This is probably why the gate is still in such good condition.
The gate is built almost entirely using white marble and upper part of the gate has three apertures shaped like a cupola. The original structure was two storeys high but not much is known about the top storey. At each side of the gate there are towers. One of the towers was built during the Hadrian era but the other was constructed at a later date.
The Queen of Sheba is also said to have passed under these gates on her way to Aspendos, where she spent a day relaxing in the palace there on her way to visit King Solomon.
Today, the gate still represents a divide: between the old city quarter of Kaleici and the modern Antalya City. The area surrounding the gate is a lovely place to take a stroll; to contrast the old and the new and to grab a coffee in an atmospheric place. When the sun goes down the gate is lit up strikingly.
The Old Town, Kaleici, is just beyond the gate. Before the 1940s modern day Antalya didn’t really exist and Antalya was simply Kaleici, with its imposing stone walls, winding streets and picturesque old houses. This charming quarter, also known as Old Antalya, was once a Roman town, before becoming part of the Byzantine empire, then the Seljuk and finally, an Ottoman town. Today it’s a protected area, and its historical buildings are a source of pride for locals.
Kaleici surrounds the old Roman harbour, where the products of the alluvial plain were loaded onto ships bound for far off destinations. These days there isn’t much trade going on here, but you can still organise cruises to explore a little of the coastline. There is a modern marina and a number of lovely restaurants line the waterfront, an ideal place to rest after exploring Kaleici’s labyrinthine streets.
It’s well worth spending an afternoon wandering along the streets, looking at the beautiful buildings, dropping into the shops and bazaars and stopping regularly for coffee or a meal. A lot of people prefer to stay in Kaleici’s boutique hotels as an alternative to the larger tourist-centred hotels in the city or Konyaalti Beach.