Where did Paul land when he arrived in Pamphylia around AD 46? He sailed with Barnabas and John Mark from Paphos on the island of Cyprus to Perga (Acts 13:13). Pamphylia was the name of this ancient region on the Mediterranean Sea, which was part of the Roman province of Galatia. However, there’s a problem: Perga is not located on the Mediterranean coast. It is about seven miles inland.
Perga had a port on the Cestrus River (modern Aksu) several miles to the east. However, this was largely used to transport marble and other cargo upriver. It was not navigable for seagoing vessels. Paul and Barnabas departed from Attalia (Acts 14:26) at the end of the first journey. This is Antalya’s yacht harbor from which tourist boats come and go today. But the book of Acts never states they arrived there as well.
Perga had its own port called Magydus in the modern Lara district. Nearby is the spectacular Düden Waterfalls that cascade 100 feet into the Mediterranean from the limestone cliff.
The site of Magydus is a military resort today, thus a restricted zone and unavailable to visit. However, you can walk onto its eastern jetty and see the underwater moles that once protected ships at anchor. A road connected Magydus with Perga, and Paul and Barnabas would have walked some seven miles to reach this Pamphylian city. Magydus, with its nearby Düden Waterfalls, is another scenic and historical site to see when you visit Antalya.
––– Dr. Mark Wilson