Antalya, ancient Attalia, is the chief tourist resort on the Turkish Riviera. The city was established as a seaport in the 2nd Century BC by Attalus II, king of Pergamon. It was bequeathed to the Romans by his successor, Attalus III. St. Paul and St. Barnabas embarked from the seaport of Antalya on their evangelical mission to Antioch (present day Hatay, Turkey). The "Hadrian Gate," a marble portal of three identical arches, was built to commemorate a visit by the Roman emperor Hadrian in AD 130.
In the Middle Ages the city was a Byzantine stronghold and an important embarkation point for the Crusaders going to Palestine. It was taken by the Seljuk Turks in 1207 and soon became the most important town and port of the region. Although it was first conquered by the Ottoman sultan Bayezid I in 1391, its incorporation into the Ottoman Empire was delayed until the late 15th Century.
With its sandy beaches for swimming, snowy mountains for skiing, and an abundance of ancient sites nearby, Antalya is one of the most popular holiday destinations on the Mediterranean Sea. Actually, Antalya is one of the few places in the world where you can go swimming and skiing in the same day. The old town, surrounded by fortified walls restored during Roman, Byzantine, and Seljuk periods, occupies the summit of a low cliff overlooking the harbour. Notable monuments in the town include an ancient tower, probably once used as a lighthouse, and a Seljuk religious college and mosque dating from 1250. Yivli Minare, a former Byzantine church converted into a Seljuk mosque, now houses the local archaeological museum.
The ancient city of Myra near Antalya is the city where St. Nicholas (Santa Claus) was born and lived throughout his life. The Italians took his tomb to Bari in 1087.