Hadrian’s Gate: Don’t Visit Turkey’s Most Famous Touristic Destination Before Reading This Post!

Located right on Atatürk Boulevard in Antalyas city center, Hadrian’s Gate is a stunning historic ruin dating back to 130 AD. Roman Empire built this famous archaeological treasure to commemorate Emperor Hadrian’s visit. So, it managed to survive the wear and tear of time and humanity.

The history of Hadrian's Gate dates all the way back to 130 AD
The history of Hadrian’s Gate dates all the way back to 130 AD

From The Ancient Attaleia to Modern Antalya

When you’re wandering around Antalya, it’s impossible not to walk past one of the city’s most important historic sights: Hadrian’s Gate. The gate dates all the way back to 130 AD. The Empire originally built the gate to commemorate Roman Emperor Hadrian’s visit to Attaleia. Attaleia, by the way, was the name of the city back then. It’s no surprise that this historical edifice also happens to be one of the main entrances to Kaleiçi. It is, meanwhile, the city’s beautiful historic quarter. The gate is mostly famous as Hadriyanüs Kapısı or Üç Kapılar (The Three Gates) in Turkish. So, the gate was part of the city’s outer walls and became an important gateway after its completion.

An old picture of Hadrian's Gate, the historical treasure of Turkey's Antalya
An old picture of Hadrian’s Gate, the historical treasure of Turkey’s Antalya

Architectural Quality of Hadrian’s Gate

As for the gate’s architectural qualities, the two towers standing on either side are from different time periods. They built the southern tower independently from the gate and it is from the Roman era. As for the northern tower, it is associated with the Seljuk sultan Alaeddin Keykubat I. He reigned in the first half of the 13th century AD, with a befitting inscription in Arabic script. You’ll be able to notice that the southern tower is quite distinct from the other. By the way, it is also famous as the Tower of Julia Sanctaand. There is a stone inscription that marks the tower, which substantiates its ancient construction date.

The two towers of Hadrian's Gate standing on either side are from different time periods
The two towers of Hadrian’s Gate standing on either side are from different time periods

Deciphering The History of Hadrian’s Gate

A typical Roman triumphal arc, Hadrian’s Gate has three same-sized archways. What’s more, it has an overall height of around eight meters (26.2 feet) from the historic pavement to the very top of the gate’s entablature. In the front and back of the gate, you’ll be able to see beautifully adorned façades. They made them from four columns each and composed of white marble. We need to mention that they are except the column shafts, which are granite. The entablature on the very top of the gate is also quite noteworthy. Furthermore, they are extending to both sides with a height of 1.28 meters (4.2 feet). It all includes a frieze decorated with floral motifs and an ornate cornice that shows lion heads among other visuals.

A night view from the famous historical ruin of Turkey's Antalya-Hadrian's Gate
A night view from the famous historical ruin of Turkey’s Antalya-Hadrian’s Gate

Who did Discover Hadrian’s Gate? And When?

Last but certainly not least, the barrel vaults located on the archways are also quite decorative with caissons that each have their own floral motifs and rosettes. It is, by the way, an Irish-British hydrographer Rear-Admiral Sir Francis Beaufort who discovered the gate in 1817.

Irish-British hydrographer Rear-Admiral Sir Francis Beaufort who discovered the gate in 1817
Irish-British hydrographer Rear-Admiral Sir Francis Beaufort who discovered the gate in 1817

Afterward, the gate became part of his published diary that recounted his travels along the southern coast of Asia Minor. In this particular description, Beaufort describes the gate as having a higher level. However, it must have been destroyed in the 19th century because no other accounts after that time period note this extension.

Kaleiçi, the old town of Antalya, is a very lively spot
Kaleiçi, the old town of Antalya, is a very lively spot

The 1950s When Hadrian’s Gate’s Popularity Began Rising!

It wasn’t until the 1950s that the exposure and renovation of Hadrian’s Gate took place. It is quite astounding given what a beautiful monument it truly is. Nowadays, it’s among the most important sights in Antalya. Moreover, it leads to the historic houses, restaurants, and delightful shops in the city’s old town, which is Kaleiçi. After Hadrian’s Gate, it’s about a 10-minute walk until you reach a beautiful view of the city and the sea. So, it is where having a cold lemonade at one of the cafés in the shade is a definite experience while in Antalya in the summer.

Leave a Comment