All About Side

 

Side (meaning pomegranate) is strategically located on the Mediterranean coast within close proximity to many popular cultural leisure and tourist attractions and just a 45-minute drive east from Antalya’s international airport (65km) on the southwest coast.  Belek, the area where many challenging championship golf courses have been developed, is only a 15-20 minute drive from Side on the main dual carriageway.  Side has the second longest sandy beach in Turkey and the beaches are gently shelved, making them suitable for young children – various water sports and activities also take place on all of the beaches.

 

Once a small, quaint fishing village, Side’s history dates back thousands of years, once an important Roman commercial centre, it was also once a pirate lair and slave market.  Stunning Roman and Byzantine ruins are in abundance everywhere and many of Side’s inhabitants are of Greek origin, as their ancestors arrived in the 6th or 7thCentury.  The charming old town and harbour lie within a narrow peninsular jutting into the sea, with long stretches of fine sandy beach set on either side. (East and West beach)

 

The shops, restaurants and clubs located within the old town are an attraction in their own right and it is a real tourist shopper’s paradise.  All manner of items from “low cost” fashion / design label clothing, Turkish handicrafts including leather-crafts to “high end” jewellery are available. The quaint narrow streets are crammed with a mixture of attractive stone & timbered building with Ottoman facades.

 

At the foot of the long old town peninsular by the harbour is the 'God of light' Temple of Apollo, (legend says this was given to Cleopatra by Mark Anthony as a token of his love for her), whereas near to the old town entrance is a reasonably well-preserved Roman amphitheatre. Both the Temple and the amphitheatre still host colourful theatrical and music performances as part of the annual Side Music & Arts festival, which is held during the summer season.  Many ruins such as the Agora, where the ancient assemblies were held and stalls selling wares took place amidst the colonnades, are thought to date back to the 7th Century BC and possibly beyond. The Roman baths currently in use as a museum, houses some of Turkey’s finest archaeological collections.  Side’s archaeological importance also means that strict local planning regulations exist, helping the town to maintain much of its original charm and character.

 

There is a newly built £10m “wheelchair friendly” pedestrian promenade stretching from the west end of the old town westwards to Kumkoy and this wonderful asset has transformed the entire seafront area.  Today, the appearance and ambience of this promenade area has similarities akin to Cannes in the South of France.  The major seafront work that took place also meant that all illegally erected buildings totally disappeared, another great boost to the general appearance of this beautiful area.  Virtually all of this major undertaking has been credited to Side’s Mayor, who is an extremely progressive official who gets things done.  His record to date on ‘getting things done’ since being elected are phenomenal and he has many further plans!

  

A similar pedestrian promenade is to be constructed on the eastern side of the old town where little in the way of development currently exists.  There are many luxury hotels located at the far end of the beach, in the Sorgun area and the intended new promenade will be constructed adjacent to an extensive stretch of sand dunes, which will eventually lead to the Sorgun hotel area.

The adjacent sand dunes currently hide many ruins, which may extend to more than 50% of those already uncovered.  Major excavation work is about to commence later this year, when a team of 50+ archaeologists will arrive from countries all over the world, to participate in this exciting and important dig.

There is also a new visitor centre and museum planned for this area and as a result, vast improvements are to be undertaken to the nearby road infrastructure.

 

The Side Festival is a member of the European Festival Association (EFA). Each year an increasing number of Turkish & international visitors plan their holiday in Side according to the festival period.

Side International Culture & Arts festival is spread over 3 months from 24th July to 29th October.


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