In 150 BC Attalos II, king of Pergamon, founded the city of Attalia (present day Antalya) to base his powerful naval fleet. Later Antalya became part of the Roman Republic in 133 BC when King Attalos III of Pergamum willed his kingdom to Rome at his death and the city grew and prospered in the Ancient Roman period. Christianity started to spread in the region after 2nd century. Antalya was visited by Paul of Tarsus, as recorded in the Acts of the Apostles (Acts 14:25-26), (wherein Antalya is referred to as Attalia). St. Paul and St. Barnabas went to Antalya and sailed from there to Antioch after preaching in Pisidia and Pamphylia. The city later became a naval base for the Christian Crusades against the Muslims in the Levant and in Cyprus.
It was a major city in the Byzantine Empire. At the time of the ascension of John II Comnenus (1118) it was an isolated outpost against the Turks, accessible only by sea. The following year, with the aid of his commander-in-chief John Axuch, John II drove the Turks from the land routes to Antalya and recconected the city with the rest of the empire.
The city, along with the whole region, was conquered by the Seljuk Turks in the early 13th century. The Arabic traveler Ibn Battuta who came to the city in between 1335-1340 noted: From Alaya I went to Antaliya, a most beautiful city. It covers an immense area, and though of vast bulk is one of the most attractive towns to be seen anywhere, besides being exceedingly populous and well laid out. Each section of the inhabitants lives in a separate quarter. The Christian merchants live in a quarter of the town known as the Mina, and are surrounded by a wall, the gates of which are shut upon them from without at night and during the Friday service. The Greeks, who were its former inhabitants, live by themselves in another quarter, the Jews in another, and the king and his court and Mamluks in another, each of these quarters being walled off likewise. The rest of the Muslims live in the main city. Round the whole town and all the quarters mentioned there is another great wall. The town contains orchards and produces fine fruits, including an admirable kind of apricot, called by them Qamar ad-Din, which has a sweet almond in its kernel. This fruit is dried and exported to Egypt, where it is regarded as a great luxury.
By the second half of the 17th century Evliya Çelebi recorded a city of narrow streets containing 3,000 houses in twenty Turkish neighbourhoods and four Greek. The town had grown beyond the city walls and the port could hold up to 200 boats.
In the 18th century, in common with most of Anatolia, its actual lord was a Dere Bey. The family of Tekke Oglu, domiciled near Perge, though reduced to submission in 1812 by Mahmud II, continued to be a rival power to the Ottoman governor till within the present generation, surviving by many years the fall of the other great Beys of Anatolia. The records of the Levant (Turkey) Company, which maintained an agency here till 1825, contain information as to the local Dere Beys.
In the 19th century the population of Antalya increased as Turks from the Caucasus and the Balkans moved into Anatolia. By 1911 it was a city of about 25,000 people, including many Christians and Jews, still living in separate quarters, round the walled mina or port. The port was served by coasting steamers of the local companies only. Antalya (then Adalia) was an extremely picturesque, but ill-built and backward place. The chief thing to see was the city wall, outside which runs a good and clean promenade and which survives to this day. The government offices and the houses of the better class were all outside the walls.