Antalya was originally named Attaleia, after its 2nd-century founder, Attalus II of Pergamum. His nephew, Attalus III, ceded the town to Rome in 133 BC. When the Roman Emperor Hadrian visited the city more than two centuries later, in AD 130, he entered the city through a triumphal arch (now known as Hadrian's Gate) built in his honour.

There followed a succession of new 'landlords': the Byzantines took over from the Romans, followed by the Seljuk Turks in the early 13th century. The latter gave Antalya both a new name and an icon – the Yivli Minare (Fluted Minaret).

The city became part of the Ottoman Empire in 1391. After WWI the empire collapsed and Antalya was ceded to Italy. In 1921 it was liberated by Atatürk's army and made the capital of Antalya Province.