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Antalya History, Turkey

According to archeological evidence, the city of Antalya, Turkey and the surrounding areas have been inhabited since the Paleolithic era.  There is also evidence of Mesolithic and Neolithic habitations.  This shows that the area has been inhabited during many different time periods and probably by several different civilizations as well. The first records of the area date back to 2000 B.C. when the Hittites documented the interactions between the surrounding provinces.  At this time, Antalya province was part of the “Lukka Lands.” 

The Lukkans, which would later be called Lycians, were often seamen and many were pirates.  Hittite documents show that it was very hard to keep peace with the Lukkans.  The area in which Antalya lies eventually became part of the Lycian and Pamphylian kingdoms.  The Lycian kingdom formed the first known democratic constitution.

The area saw many wars and conquests from the 7th century until 188 B.C.  It was conquered first by the Lydians, then by the Persians, and then by Alexander the Great.  The Kingdom of Pergamon was formed some time after the death of Alexander the Great.  The history of the city of Antalya itself dates back to 150 B.C. when Attalos II, the King of Pergamon, founded Attalia, the city which would be used as a base for his naval fleet. 

King Attalos III willed the city to the Roman Empire and upon his death in 133 B.C. the city began to grow and prosper as an ancient Roman city.  It was shortly after this that the area received its current nickname: “Heaven on Earth.”

Around 100 A.D., Christianity began to spread in the area and Attalia was visted by men like Paul of Tarsus and St. Barnabas.  During the time of the Byzantine, or Eastern Roman, Empire Antalya was a major capital and during the Great Crusades it was a key Christian naval base.

 In the early 1200’s, though, Antalya and the surrounding areas were conquered by the Seljuk Turks.  After the Seljuk Sultanate faded away, Antalya was made the capital of the Beylik of Teke.  In 1423, however, Antalya was conquered by the Ottoman Empire and it remained under its rule until World War I.  Under the rule of the Ottoman Empire, the city and its port grew and were modernized.  At this time, the city was called Adalia. 

During the early 1900’s it was described as beautiful, but poorly-built.  Turkish, Christian, and Jewish inhabitants all lived in separate segments of town.  After World War I, the city was occupied for a short time by the Italians before the Turkish Republic was formed in 1923.

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