The earliest human presence-habitation in the region dates back to half a million years ago from the finds discovered from within the Karain Cave, a distance of 30 km. north of Antalya, while in the present state of the evidence we can say that settlement within the area of Kaleici took place about 2,500 years ago.
The presence of a natural and sheltered harbor would have been an effective inducement for settlement of the area in the Classical Period and perhaps even earlier. In the location which is today termed the Doğu Garajı there were discovered numerous tombs providing physical evidence of smaller settlements in this area (possibly termed Korykos) but the name of which is as yet undetermined within Kaleici. Attelia, one of the settlements within the Pamphylia Region, which came under the rule of the Kingdom of Pergamon following the Peace of Apameia in 188 B.C., with the city established right after Attalos Philadelphos II. (159-138 B.C.) became ruler, as the city, it carries his name.
During antiquity, due to its favorable geographical location near the meeting of three distinct regions: Lycia, Pisidia and Pamphylia, its surrounding area of rich fertile land and with an important natural sheltered harbor providing access to the entire Eastern Mediterranean, would have been the primary factors in the selection of this site. After the death of Attalos III. the King of Pergamon, in 133 B.C. the city came under the rule for a while of Rome but then, passed into the hands of the Cilician pirates. The city of Attelia was visited by St. Paul in the course of his missionary journey and then it was visited by the Roman Emperor Hadrian in 130 A.D. The city is recorded in the sources as being the Seat of a Bishop and the names of various Bishops of the church in Antalya are recorded, Visited by the Apostle Paul, during the Christian Period the city was amongst the most important of the seats of settlements of Western Pamphylia.
Due to the city’s sheltered position and strong fortifications, unlike many of the cities in the area which were abandoned during the course of the Persian Sassanid and then the Muslim led Arab invasions, the city of Attelia resisted these threats and due to the strengthening of the defense system guarding the city, it becomes one of the safest cities in the region during the 9th and 10th centuries A.D. During the 11th century A.D., the city was designated the Seat of the Metropolitan. In the early 13th century, the city was conquered by the Seljuk Sultan Giyathsed-Din Keyhusrev I. and the fortification walls and towers were substantially reinforced during this period, as the city was an important trading port. In the mid-14th century the city changed hands between the Lusignan Kingdom of the Cyprus and the Hamidogullari Dynasty and the city during the reign of Sultan Beyazit I. was brought under the rule of the Ottoman State at the end of the same century.
The city in which the shipyard industry first developed, came under the domination of Kütahya Province, then to the Konya and in this period the city begins to be referred to as Adalya. At the beginning of the 16th century, especially following the conquest of Egypt in 1517, the Ottomans gained dominance within the Eastern Mediterranean and the old town and harbor lost part of its significance. Apart from the Italian invasion followed by a short period of occupation between the years 1919 and 1921, Antalya remained under Turkish rule.