Kaleiçi Old Town Festival 2021

Antalya, located on the Mediterranean coast of south-west Turkey, between the Taurus Mountains and the Mediterranean Sea, is the world's 4th most visited and Turkey's most important tourism center. Antalya is a city where attracts more than 17 million tourists a year with its natural beauties and unique historical heritage.

Muratpaşa is the second largest Metropolitan District of Antalya with half a million population. Modern day district of Muratpaşa is home to Kaleiçi, the historic center founded by Attalus II, King of Pergamon around 150 BC.

Kaleiçi area is located in the centre-eastern portion of the city along the mediterranean coast fronted by the yacht harbour that dates to the Roman era.

The name Kaleiçi means "Inside the Kale" or "Inner Kale" (Kale itself means castle or fortress).

Kaleiçi is an unique place where history, culture, art, entertainment, Turkish and world cuisine, traditional and modern architecture come together. 

Kaleiçi, a living ancient city surrounded by walls, is one of the world's leading historical heritages, bearing the traces of many civilizations from the Kingdom of Pergamum to Rome, from the Byzantine to Seljuk, from the Ottoman Empire to the Modern Turkish Republic. The heart of the city Kaleiçi, an Old Town surrounded by walls, is a magnificent place to live and see the monumental and civil architecture intertwinned and to experience the historical and modern life together.

As Muratpaşa Municipality, it is one of our biggest goals to introduce Kaleiçi to the world and to carry the cultural heritage there to future generations. In addition, we aim to bring together old towns such as Kaleiçi and raise awareness about old towns. In line with this goal, we have been organizing Kaleiçi Old Town Festival since 2016. With this exclusive festival, it is sought to expand the opportunities for cooperation in the preservation of the cultural and historical heritage of the living ancient cities, to increase the popularity of them and to promote their use for educational and scientific purposes. In the line with this purpose, mayors, municipal representatives, authorities of the living ancient cities, especially on the UNESCO World Heritage List, around the World are invited to the festival. Furthermore, all participants are provided with the opportunity to make a presentation to promote the history, traditions and customs of their ancient cities at the Forum, which will be held within the framework of the festival. 

Within the scope of the festival, concerts with the participation of tens of thousands of people, the traditional festival parade with the participation of all guests and citizens, dance and street art performances, live sculpture performances, street exhibitions, workshops, tours, and many cultural and artistic events are organized. All the streets of the historical city take on a festive mood.

Since 2016, about 75 different ancient cities have participated in the festival. Brugge from Belgium; Sibiu from Romania, Moscow, Kazan, Rostov and St. Petersburg, Yaroslavl from Russia; Lormont from France; Nuremberg, Heusenstamm and Muggensturm from Germany; Tirana and Pogradec from Albania, Prague and Pribor from Czechia; Krakow, Kobyłka and Zamość from Poland; Lepoglava, Biograd na Moru and Svetvinčenat from Croatia; Prizren, Peja, Mamusa and Mitrovica from Kosovo; Gradara, Fermignano, Arpino, Noto, Raccuja, Paterno, Syacuse from Italy; Nis from Serbia; Bethlehem from Palestine; Skopje from Macedonia; Gabrovo, Asenovgrad, Kazanlak and Smolyan from Bulgaria; Bender and Comrat from Moldova; Khmelnytskyi, Pecherks, Sumy, Kamianets-Podilskiy, Mykolaiv, Lutsk, Bolgrad, Dnipro, Lviv, Ternopil from Ukraine; Silute and Panevėžys  from Lithuania; Kaposvar, Szigetvár from Hungary; Kutaisi from Georgia; La Goulette from Tunisia; Stari Grad, Zavidovici, Jajce, Visoko and Konjic from Bosnia and Herzegovina; Alagon and Sax from Spain; Drogheda from Ireland, Nicosia and Kyrenia from Cyprus; Karachi from Pakistan; Casbah from Algeria; Kranj from Slovenia; Binagadi, Khatai, Sabunchu, Nizami, Mingechevir, Narimanov from Azerbaijan are among the cities participating in the festival held so far.


The 6th Kaleiçi Old Town Festival, held in 2021, was attended by 36 city representatives from 21 countries from three continents.

A day before the Festival, all guests came together at the dinner hosted by Mayor Ümit Uysal and his wife Ümran Uysal. District Governor of Muratpaşa Orhan Burhan also attended the dinner.  

Mayor Uysal, in his speech at night, reminded that Antalya and its region were called as Pamphylia in the ancient times. Mayor Uysal also said, “Pamphylia means a place where different cultures and peoples live in peace with brotherhood and sisterhood. I would like to thank all our delegations for being a part of our peaceful, multicultural experience here today. Welcome, all of you." 

Mayor Uysal, who added that 3500-year-old Kaleiçi will host 200 events for 4 days with the Kaleiçi Old Town Festival, arranged for the 6th time this year, said, “Cultural properties tell us about the whole journey of humanity. Cultural values shed light on our future. It is our duty to hand down our cultural heritages to the future. So, that is what this festival is for." Also stating that Kaleiçi Old Town Festival is the most broad-based, living ancient cities unity festival, Mayor Uysal also added, “I thank you very much for being a part of this initiative.”

District Governor of Muratpaşa Orhan Burhan stated that tourism activities have also revived due to the change in pandemic conditions and the acceleration of the vaccination, added; “I would like to thank our Mayor of Muratpaşa for for giving us this opportunity to get together here today, also as a result of the measures taken.”

Participating Cities in 2021

Brugge from Belgium

Prague 6 and Pribor from Czechia

Nuremberg, Heusenstamm, Muggensturm from Germany

Gradara from Italy

Rostov-on-Don and Yaroslavl from Russia

Szigetvar from Hungary

Kobyłka and Zamosc from Poland

Sibiu from Romania

Biograd na Moru, Lepoglava from Croatia

Jajce, Visoko and Zavidovici from Bosnia and Herzegovina

Karachi from Pakistan

La Goulette from Tunisia

Tirana and Pogradec from Albania

Kazanlak from Bulgaria

Girne and Nicosia from TRNC

Khmelnytskyi, Sumy, Kamianets-Podilskiy, Mykolaiv and Pechersk from Ukraine

Panevezys from Lithuania

Kranj from Slovenia

Komrat from Moldova

Levoca from Slovakia

Bender from Transnistria

Kaleiçi Old Town Festival starts with the parade

Kaleiçi Old Town Festival, which was held by Muratpaşa Municipality in Antalya, started with a cortege from Atatürk Street, which runs along the walls of the living ancient city, and continuing on the streets of that living ancient city. The opening of the festival, which was attended by 36 cities from 21 countries, was the scene of colorful images.

The 6th Kaleiçi Old Town Festival, arranged by the Muratpaşa Municipality in Kaleiçi, being the historical city center of Antalya, started with the traditional cortege, featuring colorful scenes. Mayor Ümit Uysal and his wife Ümran Uysal participated in the opening cortege of the festival, which was held with the participation of 36 cities from 21 countries this year, while delegations from guest countries took part in the cortege too.

Residents showed great interest in the cortege, which continued along the Atatürk Street, and over the walls surrounding the historical city center, accompanied by the Festival Band. Jugglers, wooden leg shows, live sculpture performances and other performances by other show groups in the festival cortege were highly appreciated by the people. Kaleiçi Old Town Festival cortege entered the ancient city through the historical Üç Kapılar (Hadrian’s Gate), one of the most magnificent structures of Kaleiçi. While the festival enthusiasm in Kaleiçi continued along the streets of the ancient city, the cortege ended at the mirador area, the main event location of the Kaleiçi Old Town Festival.

On the opening night of the 6th Kaleiçi Old Town Festival, the consuls working in Antalya, attaches, representatives of non-governmental organizations, municipality Members of parliament and representatives of political parties all attended.  

Mayor Uysal, in his speech at the night, said that they started working 6 years ago in order to share not only their sea, also the sand, the sun and the cultural properties with the world. Also stating that Kaleiçi has a special place among the cultural values of Antalya, Mayor Uysal said, “We must get together with all cities with living ancient cities and hand them down to future generations together. This festival was born just like this 6 years ago.” Stating that they have a network of 500 cities with the ancient cities living over the years, Mayor Uysal said that they hosted 48 cities in Kaleiçi before the pandemic, and they hosted 36 cities this year after the online festival arranged during the pandemic period.  

Also mentioning that the ancient city will experience four days full of art and cultural activities with the Kaleiçi Old Town Festival, Mayor Uysal said, “This value we live in is the common property of all humanity. It is our duty to safeguard this and hand it down to the next generations." At the end of his speech, Mayor Uysal recited the poet Nazım Hikmet Ran's verses "Living is one and free as a tree and brotherly like a forest together" and added, "This is the message we want to share with the whole world, this is our greatest passion and aim."

Following Mayor Uysal's speech, the festival continued with the Barcelona Gipsy Balkan Orchestra concert.


In Antalya, 36 cities from 21 countries participating in the Kaleiçi Old Town Festival, organized by the Muratpaşa Municipality, accepted the declaration "Preservation of cultural heritage within the framework of human rights" opened for signature by Mayor Ümit Uysal. City representatives signed the text of the declaration at the end of the panel held at the historical Kaleiçi Marina.

At the Kaleiçi Old Town Festival, which was held for the 6th time this year by Muratpaşa Municipality, the panel titled "Preservation of cultural heritage within the framework of human rights" was held at the historical Kaleiçi Yacht Harbor amphitheater with the participation of guest cities.

Mayor Ümit Uysal, who spoke at the panel held within the scope of the festival, which was held this year with the participation of representatives from 21 countries and 36 cities, stated that people's passions and desires know no bounds and said, “Commercial life and political life put all values under pressure to a certain extent. In order for us to preserve the cultural assets that tell us the whole story of their humanity, every person should see this as their right.”

Mayor Uysal said that a thousand-year-old building was covered with commercial slabs, and a 5,000-year-old amphitheater could be tragically restored with white and even cheap marble.

“It is our right to know the whole story of humanity and to pass it on to future generations. Knowing the whole story of your humanity will protect us from unpeaceful behavior. If people live, feel and understand the past, the future can be much more peaceful and free from danger.”

Mayor Uysal reminded that cities with ancient cities such as Kaleiçi signed a joint declaration for the first time in 2019 at the Kaleiçi Old Town Festival, “We want all institutions and people in the world to know our feelings and thoughts. I would like to thank all of you for sharing common feelings and thoughts and protecting your cities.” After Mayor Uysal's speech, he said, "Let's write our joint letter this year, too." Kaleiçi Old Town Festival Declaration on the Preservation of Cultural Heritage within the Framework of Human Rights” was opened for signature. After the declaration was read in English and Russian, the cities signed the text.

Signature Cities

Kobyłka and Zamosc from Poland, Sibiu from Romania, Jajce, Visoko and Zavidovici from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Prague 6 and Pribor from Czechia, Heusenstamm, Muggensturm from Germany, Karachi from Pakistan, La Goulette from Tunisia, Pogradec and Tirana from Albania, Biograd na Moru and Lepoglava from Crotia, Bender from Transnistria, Kazanlak from Bulgaria, Girne and Nicosia from TRNC, Khmelnytskyi, Sumy, Kamianets-Podilskiy, Mykolaiv and Pechersk from Ukraine, Rostov-on-Don and Yaroslavl from Rusia, Panevezys from Lithuania, Brugge from Belgium, Kranj from Slovenia, Comrat from Moldova, Zigetvar from Hungary, Levoca from Slovakia, Gradara from Italy.


The declaration signed by the participating cities of the Kaleici Old Town Festival consists of 6 articles. Planning for the effective protection of cultural heritage as a key element declaration on the protection of cultural heritage, pointing to the inclusion of decision-making processes in the areas of living, work and social awareness for endangered cultural heritage assets and the creation of an emergency relief areas for the development of a way of raising the necessary draws attention to the importance of cooperation.


Muratpaşa Municipality compiled the information that has remained at the borders of archaeology, from Attalos's Attelia to Gazi Mustafa Kemal Atatürk's Antalya, and transformed it into a narrative form in the book " From Sarpedon to Keykubad: Once Upon a Time Antalya". Mayor Ümit Uysal introduced the book, which was published in Turkish and English, at the Forum called "Old cities tell their stories", held as part of the 6th Kaleiçi Old Town Festival.

The story of Ancient Theatre of Aspendos built by Architect Zenon for her one and only love, Belkıs from Serik, the story of Apollonius from Aksu, the inventor of mathematical terms such as ellipse, parabola, hyperbola, the story of Opromoas, the philanthropist from Kumluca who went to the aid of the Lycian cities that were destroyed in the earthquake, the story of St. Nicholas from Demre, the patron saint of the seas, travellers and the poor, the story of Sarpedon from Kınık, Kaş, the hero of the Trojan War, the story of the people of Döşemealtı who heroically resisted Alexander the Great, the story of Plancia Magna from Aksu, the first female mayor… All of them were compiled in the book “From Sarpedon to Keykubad: Once Upon a Time Antalya”.

Muratpaşa Municipality compiled the stories of the myths, legends, emperors, scientists, poets, physicians and philanthropists of Antalya, which has witnessed hundreds of cultures, languages and beliefs in the book “From Sarpedon to Keykubad: Once Upon a Time Antalya”.

The book, which was compiled with the suggestion of Mayor Ümit Uysal and was the result of 6 months of work performed by Aytaç Dönmez from the Archaeology Department of Akdeniz University (AU), was introduced at the Forum "Old cities tell their stories", held at Türkan Şoray Cultural Centre as part of the 6th Kaleiçi Old Town Festival, organized with the participation of 36 cities from 21 countries.

Mayor Uysal, who made the opening speech of the Forum, said that cities with living ancient cities such as Kaleiçi, the historical city centre of Antalya, share similar stories while experiencing similar problems. Stating that cities can only be attractive and protected thanks to their stories, Mayor Uysal said “We need to share these stories. Because people like stories of love and heroism. Stories of love and heroism or other stories make cities interesting. When they make the cities interesting, cities are protected by their people. No one wants to harm cities and ancient ruins.”

Pointing out that only in this way, the walls of thousands of years old buildings can be protected from commercial plates, Mayor Uysal said “If we do not want historical buildings to be destroyed or cities to be damaged in wars, conflicts or simple disputes and if we want enough restoration budgets to be allocated to our cities, we need to share our ancient stories, the stories of our cities, and to tell them to our people.”

Pointing out that the fact that these stories from the ancient period are limited only to the academic field of universities makes it difficult for the local people to get involved in the protection of cultural assets, Mayor Uysal said “If new generations do not become familiar with our stories and do not know our cities, they will not protect them, thereby causing the cultural assets to become vulnerable to all kinds of troubles.” Stating that a place can only be unforgettable if you become familiar with its stories, Mayor Uysal said “Thus, we are going to have much more permanent knowledge and feelings towards each other.”

The lecturer, Aytaç Dönmez, the author of the book " From Sarpedon to Keykubad: Once Upon a Time Antalya", said that with this work, which was initiated with the idea of Mayor Uysal, the mythological narratives and the stories of heroes, historically important personalities, events, poets, athletes and scientists, which were mentioned in the ancient narratives that took place in the borders of Antalya, were compiled in a simple and narrative language for the first time. Dönmez said “Thanks to this book, we will be able to better understand the history of the lands we live on and, thanks to this awareness, we will be able to better tell Antalya, this multi-layered cultural geography, to the world.”

After his speech, Dönmez shared the story of the two heroes from Antalya, the commander-in-chief Sarpedon and the great archer Pandaros, both of whom took part in the legendary Trojan War, with the delegations of guest countries at the Türkan Şoray Cultural Centre. The Forum continued with the presentations of the participating countries.


Since the first year, nearly 80 living ancient cities participated in the festival.

Participating cities are:
  • Germany: Nuremberg, Muggensturm, Heusenstamm from Germany
  • Italy: Gradara, Fermignano, Arpino, Noto, Raccuja, Paterno
  • France: Lormont
  • Belgium: Bruges 
  • Spain: Alagon and Sax
  • Ireland: Drogheda
  • Czechia: Prague, Pribor
  • Poland: Krakow, Kobyłka, Zamość
  • Ukraine: Khmelnytskyi, Lviv, Sumy, Kamianets-Podilskiy, Mykolaiv, Pechersk, Dnipro, Lutsk, Ternopil, Bolgrad
  • Romania: Sibiu 
  • Bulgaria: Gabrovo, Asenovgrad, Kazanlak and Smolyan 
  • Croatia: Lepoglava, Biograd na Moru, Svetvinčenat
  • Albania: Tirana and Pogradec
  • Slovenia: Kranj
  • Russia: Moscow, Kazan, Rostov, St. Petersburg and Yaroslavl
  • Slovakia: Levoca
  • Moldova: Comrat and Bender,
  • Kosovo: Prizren, Peja, Mamusha and Mitrovica 
  • Serbia: Nis 
  • Palestine: Bethlehem
  • North Macedonia: Skopje
  • Lithuania: Silute and Panevezys
  • Hungary: Kaposvar, Szigetvar 
  • Georgia: Kutaisi
  • Algeria: Casbah
  • Tunisia: La Goulette 
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina: Stari Grad, Konjic, Jajce, Visoko and Zavidovici 
  • From TRNC: Nicosia, Kyrenia,
  • Pakistan: Karachi 
  • Azerbaijan: Binagadi, Khatai, Sabunchu, Nizami, Mingechevir, Narimanov,  Merdekan, Kepez and Barde