Most golf fans will be well aware of the stunning courses located in Belek, also known as the Turkish Riviera. Whether you tee off at the Peter Thompson-designed Carya course, which is now home to the Turkish Airlines Open, or the immaculately manicured PGA Sultan course, you will be in awe at the quality and test of golf on offer. Few places in the whole of Europe match Belek for its golf offer, and those in the know have been enjoying it for years.
But Belek’s not just about the golf. The Antalya region of Turkey has a rich and varied history and is extremely welcoming to visitors. If you’re planning to visit Belek for your upcoming golf holiday, here are seven historical sites you should consider visiting during your break to add some culture to your golfing break.
The ancient city of Aspendos is just 50km east of Antalya and was founded by the famous Greek diviner Mopsos sometime around 1000 BC. The undeniable central feature of the Ancient city is the theater that has been incredibly well preserved to this day.
Built during the time of Marcus Aurelius in the second century, the open-air theater at Aspendos is one of the finest Ancient Roman theaters found anywhere in the world.
Capable of hosting an audience of more than 15,000 people, it is still used today for many cultural events like Turkish opera and ballet. You will struggle to find a more pristine Ancient Roman structure anywhere else in the world.
Another ancient city well worth a visit in Antalya is Perge. Perge dates back to the 12th century BC and fell under the rule of both Lydia and Persia before falling to Alexander the Great.
It enjoyed great prosperity under the Roman rule of Marcus Aurelius, and many of the ruins you can visit today, including the stunning basilica and baths, are of Roman design.
Visitors to Perge enjoy wandering around one of the best-preserved ancient stadiums found anywhere in the world, and it’s the main feature of the Roman ruins found here.
After visiting one or several of the ancient towns that populate Turkey’s Mediterranean coast, a trip to the Antalya museum helps to add context to these places, thanks to its stunning and varied collection.
The museum is home to treasured artifacts from the Old Stone Age, right the way through to the modern-day. The Classical collections on display are particularly complementary to many of the ancient sites that you can visit throughout the Antalya countryside.
Most notably, the museum houses one of the most impressive collections of Roman statutes anywhere in the world, and the marble Hercules discovered at Perge is one of the most impressive features of the museum’s vast collection.
Antalya’s old city, known locally as Kaleici, is a fusion of the cultures of the region’s historic settlers. You can’t miss visiting Tekeli Mehmet Pasa Cami, an exquisite Ottoman mosque built in the eighteenth century and preserved to this day.
As you wander into town, you will come across Hadrian’s Gate, which dates back to AD 130 and was built in honor of the Roman Emperor Hadrian. You can also marvel at the ruins of Kesik Minare Cami, a former Roman temple that was transformed into a Byzantine church, and latterly a mosque in the thirteenth century.
If taking in the impressive historical sites isn’t enough, you can spend time at the picturesque harbor or walking the quaint cobblestone streets to get a feel for the pace of life in this beautiful part of Antalya.
Known as ‘the eagle’s nest,’ Termessos is more than 1,000 meters above sea level and offers unrivaled views of the Taurus mountains and across the Pamphylia region as far as the eye can see.
Located within the Güllük Dağı National Park, it is one of the lesser-visited archaeological sites in Turkey, which makes the effort it takes to hike up to it well worthwhile.
The fact that very little excavation work has been carried out at Termessos makes it all the more appealing. You can wander around the ruins of the baths and gymnasium and take a rest at the amphitheater that sits atop the hill. Just be sure to have your camera at hand, as the views are indescribable.
Located directly on the coast between Kemer and Olympos, Phaselis is a wonderful place to explore at your own pace before enjoying a spot of lunch and an afternoon splash in the sea.
During Roman times, Phaselis was a thriving port town that exported timber from the surrounding forests. Today, the ruins that remain are nestled in amongst fragrant pines that offer natural shelter from the blazing sun, which makes wandering around them bearable even in the heat of the day.
The ruins at Phaselis consist of elaborate baths, an Agora, and a small yet stunningly preserved theatre, from which magnificent views of the surrounding areas can be enjoyed.
A stone’s throw away from a beach that is home to loggerhead turtles, the ancient city of Olympos was one of the most important cities of the Lycian civilization and played a major role in maritime trade.
Throughout history, Olympos was prone to large-scale attacks by pirates until the dominant Ottomans put a stop to this. Still, if you have an active imagination, you can imagine the plunderers wreaking havoc throughout the deserted streets that lined this important port city.
If you visit Olympos, you can enjoy many outdoor activities in the surrounding areas, including canoeing, rock climbing, and even paragliding. It’s a must-visit destination for anyone with a love of the outdoors!
So, there you have it! Seven historical sites you should consider visiting during your upcoming golf holiday in Belek. When you plan a couple of days off the course to rest, visiting these magnificent ancient cities will give you a fabulous insight into the rich and varied history of this special part of Turkey.