alaturka

Oldtown Kaleiçi Antalya - Life Behind the Doors

Altstadt Antalya - das Leben hinter den Toren

Located on the western end of the Mediterranean Coast of Turkey, Antalya has been one of the most important commercial ports of Anatolia throughout its long history, has constantly been settled after second century AD and hosted many voyagers as part of their itinerary.

The city has been known as Attaleia, Attalia, Sathalia, Sattalia, Adalia and finally Antalia throughout its always changing history.

The oldest section of Antalya covering the antique city area is known as Kaleiçi, meaning the “Inner Castle”; the city walls in the shape of a horse shoe can still be seen, although many sections of it are vanished or taken away. Constructed in 2nd century AD and accepted to be the shared work of  Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantian, Seljukian and Ottoman eras, antique walls surrounding the port and inner castle which were adorned with many watch towers. Additional to such constructions, walls separating various sections of the antique settlement from each other, so that different religions got their own quarters. 

The traditional texture of “Kaleiçi”, architecturally protected homes and other structures carry the traces of history and social fabric as well as community living of the settlement until these day. Sustaining their authentic life, city structures are not only architectural samples to marvel at but are also a compilation of opinions and attitudes of and what their people understood from life. 

The warmth emanated from traditional homes in the Inner Castle will immediately engulf you as you walk into the old city and you will be overwhelmed by a sense of grandeur. A feeling of belonging surges. Your feet will guide you through narrow streets as if you are gliding over the heart of antiquity. Having constantly expanded and developed throughout Middle Ages due to the fact that the town is an important and large commerce center, this city has been home to Greeks, Turks, Jews, Christian merchants and Arabs, although in different sectors. Even there were walls separating the various sectors from each other, the people of old city gathered in the same coffee shops, listened to the same fables and kept a constant interaction going. Indeed, the rich social and cultural fabric of Inner Castle has contributed a lot to contemporary life and culture. Who knows if you may even “come across with a few Greek women with henna coloured red hair, sitting in front of the house door in their colorful clothing” as Karl Graf Lanckoroński, the famous Polish author and traveler has once written.

Although the different economical status of inhabitants and the purpose of usage are exhibited in architecture of the homes in the area, their common characteristics are much more evident. Flexibly designed to accommodate to a growing family, common characteristics of the homes are their functionality as well as harmony with nature and environment. 

The “Exedra” (Bay Windows) at first floor level does not only enrich the plan sketch of the structure but also evoke admiration when applied in streets and smaller esplanades. Always facing a street on one side, the other side of the homes provides entry to the backyard. Adorned with mainly citrus trees and other fruit plants, high walls made of local stones provide the inhabitants with privacy away from curious eyes into these gardens. Strikingly elegant gardens are always colorful and lovely and disseminate a forever pleasant scent. Almost all of the travelers that once passed through the city, wrote about the abundant nature and fertile gardens of the city in their diaries and chronicles. 

The Patio that make up the underneath of the house or the stairs starting at the garden level are at ground level and are one of the most functional section of the homes. A place for the daily life, these patios are the space that contain the kitchen, storage room, water well, bathroom and the barn, which are the busiest parts of a residence.

Cobble stones show interesting figures

The elliptical and smooth surface cobble stones make up of the floor covering of patios and are laid into cement in various interesting patterns and figures that turn the patio into an elaborate art work. An influence of the mosaic techniques used in Byzantium and Roman era, the cobble stone work you see when you have a peek at the gardens that contain a different living behind doors is not just an expression of decorative aesthetics. Indeed, due to the fact that the patio is washed everyday in the afternoons, the water left in between the cobble stones emanate a cool air throughout the hot summer nights. 

Today, the Inner Court antique area and surroundings have been transformed to an important tourism, commerce and entertainment center and the old port has been turned into a Marina in line with a development plan drafted for the purpose of protection, re-functionalize and rejuvenation. The stylish and elegant establishments launched after the restoration works in the protected heritage area transformed the area into a must see for those who are interested in city culture and authentic architecture. In summary, the Inner Castle is an area that perfectly combines the melodies of bygone with contemporary tunes, always worth visiting.

Please read as well:

Antalya Museum - Archaeology and Ethnography

Antalya - Trolly from Nuremberg as Attraction

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