A prosperous port, Attaleia was surrounded by thick defensive stone walls pierced by several gates that could be closed and sealed in case of attack from pirates or invaders.
The grandest of these, and the only one surviving, is Hadrian’s Gate Hadriyanüs Kapısı), a monumental triple-arched portal on Atatürk Caddesi (map), modeled on the Roman triumphal arch.
Hadrian’s Gate was constructed in 130 AD to commemorate Emperor Hadrian‘s visit to the city. Note the coffered ceiling in the arches, the decorative marble columnsbetween the arches on both sides. At one time, statues of Emperor Hadrian and his family probably decorated the top of the gate, but these are long gone.
Note also the deep grooves in the stone pavement beneath the central arch, carved by the wheels of thousands of carts passing in and out of the city over the centuries. The grooves are so deep—and treacherous to pedestrians—that a transparent walkway has been built beneath the arch so visitors don’t sprain an ankle walking through.
The massive, crenellated stone towers framing the gate date from different periods. The southern tower, on the left as you view the gate from the boulevard, is Roman, with a carved stone plaque set in it as proof. The north tower(right) was rebuilt in Seljuk Turkish times by Sultan Alaeddin Keykubat I (1219-1238), as attested by a plaque set in it. The inscription is in old Turkish, written in the Arabic script.
The pleasant, shady park on the east (boulevard) side of the gate is a favorite sitting and chatting spot for city residents. An itinerant çaycı (Turkish tea waiter) circulates regularly bringing the nation’s favorite beverage to anyone who needs its calming and invigorating properties.
—by Tom Brosnahan