Antalya Ancient Ruins

Historical Places in Antalya: 9 Ancient Ruins That Are Windows to the Past

Embarking on a journey through Antalya’s ancient ruins is like stepping into a world suspended in time, where every stone whispers tales of civilizations long past. This region, cradled by the Mediterranean’s azure waters, is not just a testament to nature’s beauty but also a mosaic of historical epochs, from the Lycians to the Romans. As you plan your adventure through these archaeological marvels, consider integrating your ancient ruins exploration into a comprehensive 7 Days Itinerary in Antalya, ensuring you don’t miss any of the city’s enchanting stories. This will not only enhance your experience but also weave a richer narrative of your travels through Antalya’s historic landscape.

1. Antalya Perge Ancient Ruins

Perge, once the capital of Pamphylia Secunda, stands as a highlight of Antalya’s ancient treasures today. Pamphylia Secunda was an ancient region established during the Roman Empire’s administrative reforms. As you enter, a majestic Roman gate welcomes you, leading into the core of a city that thrived since the 4th century BC. Strolling among the ruins, you walk down a street lined with columns, once with water streaming through the city centre, and beautiful mosaics under your feet. You’ll see the remains of two large Roman baths, a well-kept theatre, and a stadium that could hold more than 12,000 people, bringing the city’s former glory to life. Key attractions at Antalya’s Perge Ancient City include:

  • The Hellenistic Gate, a grand entrance that introduces the city’s ancient magnificence.
  • The Agora, a marketplace where merchants used to sell their wares, showing ancient Perge’s economic life.
  • The Nymphaeum, a grand fountain that was both a source of water and a social meeting spot.

Perge Ancient Ruins are only 18 km away from Antalya city centre

Perge Ancient City / Antalya, Turkey

2. Antalya Olympos Ancient Ruins

Olympos, enveloped by a lush valley and opening onto a stunning beach, offers a blend of natural beauty and historical ruins. This ancient city, part of the Lycian Federation, thrived in the Hellenistic period and the Roman era. The ruins scattered among the foliage tell the story of a city that was both a significant trading post and a pirate haven. The most fascinating aspect of Olympos is the eternal flames of Chimera, burning from vents in the rock, a natural phenomenon that has been a source of myth and legend. Highlights include:

  • The Temple of Hephaestus, near the eternal flames, offering insights into ancient worship practices.
  • The Olympos Beach, where history and natural beauty coalesce, providing a serene backdrop to the ruins.

If you want to see Olympos’s beautiful sights, getting there by a private yacht is a great option. It gives you a special view of the sea and the historical places. To learn more about What to do & See in Olympos, Turkey, check out our blog.

Olympos Ancient Ruins are 80 km away from Antalya city centre

Olympos Ancient City / Antalya, Turkey

3. Antalya Aspendos Ancient Ruins

The Aspendos Theatre stands as one of the most magnificent monuments of antiquity in the Antalya region. This ancient structure, renowned for its outstanding acoustics and well preserved condition, could seat approximately 15,000 people, showcasing the architectural genius of the Romans. Built in 155 AD by the architect Zeno under the reign of Marcus Aurelius, the theatre’s design reflects the grandeur of Roman entertainment and social life. Beyond the theatre, the remnants of the basilica, aqueducts, and the agora paint a broader picture of Antalya Aspendos Ancient City’s historical landscape. Notable aspects include:

  • The Aspendos Theatre’s architectural design, which has inspired modern venues around the world.
  • The Aqueducts, a testament to Roman engineering prowess, which provided the city with water.

Aspendos Ancient Ruins are only 45 km away from Antalya city centre

Aspendos Ancient City / Antalya, Turkey

4. Antalya Termessos Ancient Ruins

Nestled in the mountains above Antalya, the ruins of Termessos offer a unique blend of natural beauty and ancient history. Unlike Perge and Aspendos, Termessos was never fully excavated, giving it an untouched, mysterious aura. The city was known for its formidable defences, making it one of the few cities that Alexander the Great could not conquer. Key features include the impressive theatre, situated at the edge of a cliff, offering breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains, and the necropolis, with its intricately carved tombs. Highlights to explore of Antaşya Termesso Ancient Ruins are:

  • The Gymnasium, revealing insights into the education and physical training of ancient Termessians.
  • The Bouleuterion, where the city council once convened, provided a glimpse into the political life of Termessos.

Termessos Ancient Ruins are only 34 km away from Antalya city centre

Termessos Ancient City / Antalya, Turkey

5. Antalya Phaselis Ancient Ruins

Antalya Phaselis Ancient City, where history meets nature, was an important trade city by the sea, surrounded by mountains. The best way to see its ancient ruins is from the sea, offering views you can’t get on land. Taking a private yacht to Phaselis from Kemer is like travelling back in time. As you near its old harbors, with the coast’s calm beauty welcoming you and ruins peeking through the greenery, it’s a unique journey of exploration. This sea route makes visiting Phaselis more exciting, helping you picture the ancient ships that once came here. Phaselis ancient ruins highlights include:

  • The three ancient harbors, connecting Phaselis to the seas and showcasing its commercial past.
  • The Theatre, where cultural events once entertained the inhabitants, surrounded by nature’s tranquility.

If you’re interested in learning more about Phaselis and Antique City, make sure to check out our blog.

Phaselis Ancient Ruins are only 53 km away from Antalya city centre

Phaselis Ancient City / Antalya, Turkey

6. Antalya Side Ancient Ruins

Side Antique City is famous for its ancient ruins alongside the sea. It has a long history, from Alexander the Great to the Romans. Key spots include a large amphitheatre, where ancient entertainment came to life, and the Temple of Apollo, offering stunning sea views, especially at sunset. A walk through Side’s charming ruins is not just a stroll through history but an encounter with centuries-old stories etched in stone. The ruins are scattered around the old city, allowing visitors to imagine life as it once was, amidst bustling marketplaces and serene temples. Highlights of Side ancient ruins include:

  • The sprawling amphitheatre, showcasing the architectural prowess of ancient civilizations and the cultural life that thrived within its walls.
  • The Temple of Apollo, symbolizing the city’s spiritual heritage and providing breathtaking views at dusk.
  • The city’s well-preserved walls and gates that whisper tales of ancient defence and grandeur.

Side Ancient Ruins are only 74 km away from Antalya city centre

7. Antalya Myra Ancient Ruins

Located near the town of Demre, Myra is famous for its rock-cut tombs and large amphitheatre. The city was one of the most important cities of the Lycian Union and boasts a fascinating history that dates back to the 5th century BC. The Saint Nicholas Church, dedicated to the saint born in Patara who became the model for Santa Claus, is also located here. Highlights of Myra include:

  • The Lycian rock tombs, with their elaborate facades carved directly into the cliff faces.
  • The Roman Theatre, one of the largest and well-preserved in Lycia, offers insight into the entertainment culture of ancient Myra.

Myra Ancient Ruins are 138 km away from Antalya city centre

Myra Ancient City / Antalya, Turkey

8. Antalya Patara Ancient Ruins

Patara, near the modern village of Gelemiş, was once a thriving Lycian port city and is known as the birthplace of Saint Nicholas. It boasts one of the longest beaches in Turkey, but its historical significance is equally impressive with a collection of ruins including a well-preserved Roman era theatre, a parliament building of the Lycian League, and ancient lighthouses. Patara’s beach is also world famous and considered one of the best beaches in Antalya. Patara ancient ruins highlights include:
  • The Parliament Building, which reflects the democratic governance of the Lycian League, an early federation of city states.
  • The Patara ancient lighthouse, one of the oldest known lighthouses in the world, symbolizing Patara’s importance as a maritime hub.
Patara Ancient Ruins are 224 km away from Antalya city centre
Patara Ancient City / Antalya, Turkey

9. Antalya Arycanda Ancient Ruins

Arycanda is located in the mountains near the town of Elmalı and is known for its unique terraced layout, adapting to the rugged mountain terrain. This site is less visited than others, offering a more serene exploration experience. Arycanda is famed for its well-preserved bath complexes, a beautiful necropolis, and a strikingly detailed odeon (small theatre or concert hall). Noteworthy features of Arycanda include:

  • The Odeon and Bouleuterion, which showcase the cultural and political life of the city.
  • The Necropolis, offering a solemn yet picturesque view of ancient funerary practices.

Arycanda Ancient Ruins are 138 km away from Antalya city centre

Arycanda Ancient City / Antalya, Turkey

Antalya’s ancient ruins provide a window into the past, each site offering a unique story about the civilizations that once called this region home. These ruins are not just remnants of the past; they serve as a bridge connecting visitors to the ancient Lycian and Roman civilizations that once flourished along this coast. Olympos, with its legendary eternal flames and hidden ancient city in a forest, and Phaselis, where the clear Mediterranean meets the Taurus Mountains, show the mix of nature and history that makes Antalya a great place for travellers who love history and archaeology. Begin crafting your itinerary today to uncover the top tourist places in Antalya.

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