As you walk through the picturesque streets of the old town of Kaleici, you can hardly avoid passing by the beautiful old Hidirlik tower. Although Antalya has incredible many ancient buildings, Hidirlik is together with Hadrian’s gate one of the two oldest surviving buildings in the city. The tower itself is located on the outskirts of Kaleici, where it thrives majestically across the Mediterranean, high elevated above the entrance to Kaleici Marina. You can also come to the tower through the beautiful Karalioglu park, always full of life and happy days, musicians, gypsies, people walking together with tourists and playful children.
I have often passed the tower and thought, that I really did not know anything about its history. You can not get inside, so you can either just walk past or around it. On rare occasions it is open, but you must be more than lucky if you encounter it. But even though the tower seems quite simple, it has great significance for the city and is considered to be one of the city’s landmarks on the same footing with the Yivli Minaret and the clock tower (you can read about both of them by clicking the links).
Hidirlik tower’s tumultuous existence:
Why the tower was built at the end of the 1st century is still a mystery. It is believed that it may have served as a tomb for a significant gentleman, due to the ax-like motives in front of the door. But since then it has had a revelation as a lighthouse (due to its perfect location), as some kind of church or chapel and even as a municipal depot.
Since the city’s founding, Antalya has been an important port for the hinterland, as it has a naturally protected harbor. But the actual approach could be a bit luminous, because of the many cliff protrusions. For this reason, the Hidirlik tower had a very important and strategic location as lighthouse and outlook place, where you could guide the ships safely into the harbor. The tower itself is 14 meters high and is built on the high cliffs of stony bamboo.
It is believed that the Romans built the lower square of the tower, and used it as a lighthouse and as part of the fortress of the city. There were probably walls from this tower and further around the old town to other towers, although none of this is anymore. Later, at the beginning of the 2nd century, the tower with the round 1st floor was built on top of the original one. At this time there were catapults and archers to defend the city from outside hazards. The Ottomans and the Seljuks also found the tower important and have diligently used it and made continuous renovations.
Not open to the public:
Until the 20th century, the ground floor served as a church, while in the 1950s it served as a depot for the municipality. Fortunately, this was removed and the buildings was restored, so you can now see the fine frescoes of the apostles. It astonishes me a lot, why the interior of the building is not accessible to the public. Maybe due to the age or the very narrow space? The living room is approx. 17 × 17 meters, while the 1st floor is well 8 meters in diameter. But I think a lot of locals and tourists could be curious about coming in and have a look?
Even though the building is tiny, it’s still worth just to pop by, when you’re here. It looks both nice and sweet, as it stands with a small flag at the top and with the finest view over the Mediterranean, Antalya Bay and the entrance to the old Roman port. There is a small park around the tower. It is adjacent to the larger Karalioglu park and a nice square, where there are a couple of cozy eateries with the best view. There is ample opportunity to get refreshments and snacks, but also to have a nice lunch or evening meal.
Next to the Karalioglu park:
Next to the Hidirlik tower – and at the end of the Karalioglu park, there is a larger round square, that is very popular with both tourists and locals. Many of the local Turks go for a walk here during the day or spend their lunch break just to have some air and a bite of food. This is perhaps the best place to watch the sunset over the bay and the mountains and the perfect place to take the mandatory selfies and holiday pictures of the family.
It is quite cozy both around the tower, in the adjoining little streets with the old houses and in the nice park, where something always happens. I really enjoy coming in this part of town. In one way or another, there are rarely quite so many people here, as in the old town. There are many benches, where you can sit and enjoy the music and the performers, have a little to eat or just something to drink, and be refreshed by a cool breeze from the sea makes it a really good place to be especially in the hot summer months.