Turkey's fastest growing city,
) is also the one metropolis besides Istanbul that is also a major destination. Blessed with an ideal climate and a stunning setting, Antalya has seen its annual tourist influx grow to almost match its permanent population, which now stands at just under half-a-million. Despite the grim appearance of its concrete sprawl, it's an agreeable place, although the main area of interest for visitors is confined to the relatively small old quarter; its beaches don't rate much consideration. The city also makes a good base for visiting the nearby ancient sites of Perge and Aspendos.
The intersection of Cumhuriyet Caddesi and Sarampol is the most obvious place to begin a tour of Antalya, dominated by the
or "Fluted Minaret", erected in the thirteenth century and today something of a symbol of the city. Downhill from here is the
, recently restored and site of the evening promenade. North is the disappointing bazaar, while south, beyond the Saat Kalesi, lies
or the old town, currently succumbing to tweeness as every house is redone as a carpet shop, cafe or pension. On the far side, on AtatErk Caddesi, the triple-arched
recalls a visit by the emperor in 130 AD, while HesapA§a Sokak leads south past the
(Broken Minaret) to a number of tea gardens and the
, of indisputable Roman vintage but ambiguous function - it could have been a lighthouse, bastion or tomb. The one thing you shouldn't miss is the
(Tues-Sun: summer 9am-6.30pm; winter 8am-5pm; $5), one of the top five archeological collections in the country; it's on the western edge of town at the far end of Kenan Evren Bulvara, easily reachable by a tram which departs from the clock tower in KaleiA§i. Highlights include an array of Bronze Age urn burials from near Elmala, and finds from an unusually southerly Phrygian tumulus. There's also second-century statuary from Perge, an adjoining sarcophagus wing with an almost undamaged coffer depicting the life of Hercules, a number of mosaics and a reliquary containing some purported bones of St Nicholas, not to mention an ethnography section with ceramics, household implements, weapons and embroidery and a small but well-thought-out children's section.