Antalya: Hadrian’s Gate, A Kind Policeman & A Turkish Lesson

Whenever we think of Hadrian’s Gate in Antalya, we always remember the kind traffic policeman who took pity on us the first time we ever drove to the city from Fethiye. All we knew was that our hotel was in Antalya old town.

After accidentally jumping far too many red lights to remember (we were driving in convoy and the city ringroads were wide, packed with traffic and stressful – no time for noticing lights), we could finally see the castle walls and we drove round – and round – and round – and round. The castle walls were constantly to our right but how the hell did we get inside, where we needed to be?

Üç Kapı or Hadrian's Gate in Antalya, Turkey

The three gates (Üç Kapı) of Hadrian’s Gate, Antalya

The situation was a cross between funny and frustrating but as levels of tetchiness began to rise after a few hours in a car that, at the moment, was getting absolutely nowhere, we spotted a traffic policeman on a motorbike by the side of the road. Right, time for our best Turkish and let’s see if we can follow the directions the policeman gives us.

Barry wound the window down (as the driver, I get out of these situations) and asked the policeman how to get through the castle walls in a car. The policeman’s reply: ‘Üç Kapı.’

Blank faces from us and the thought, ‘Why does the conversation never go well when we try to speak Turkish?’
The policeman tried again. ‘Üç Kapı. Anladınız mı?’ (Three doors. Did you understand?)

Yes, we understand the words you’re saying. We just don’t understand why you’re saying them to us.

Luckily, the policeman got fed up before we did, turned on the sirens on his bike and said, ‘Follow me!’

Hadrian's Gate, Antalya

Details from Hadrian’s Gate

Don’t forget, we were in convoy. The policeman did a u-turn in the middle of a busy road and we (proper excited now) followed in hot pursuit while our friends, who had no idea what was going on, followed behind us. Blue sirens flashing, the bike then took a left up a one-way street – in the wrong direction! And we followed. And our friends followed. We were breaking rules but it was okay because we were following a policeman!

Eventually, we passed Hadrian’s Gate and the policeman gestured towards it from his bike. Ahhh. Now it all made sense. Hadrian’s Gate has three arches. Three doors. Three gates. Üç Kapı is the Turkish name for Hadrian’s Gate. (Little tip for you there, if you find yourself looking for road signs for Hadrian’s Gate.)

Where we went from there I can’t remember, but the entrance wasn’t very noticeable and it was a turnstile where you have to pay to get through. This was all sorted by our new mate, the policeman, who then took us to our hotel as well. This was 4 years ago and I can’t remember if we bid fond farewells to our superhero or if he just rode off alone, into the distance.

Info On Hadrian's Gate, Antalya

Hadrian’s Gate Info

As you can see from the photos, passing through Hadrian’s Gate (Üç Kapı) is only possible on foot. Maybe the policeman was going to tell us the vehicle entrance was past Hadrian’s Gate but realised it was pointless when he saw the glazed-over look on our faces.

Hadrian’s Gate, Antalya – Further Info

Hadrian’s Gate was only revealed in the 1950s after an earthquake caused the Selçuk walls to collapse. The gate had been encased inside the walls.

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  1. Oh my gosh, this totally reminds me of road trip to NYC with my folks when I was a kid. No matter how many times, my dad would get lost going from Manhattan to Brooklyn (I know, one bridge, right?) in the middle of the night…always after midnight. He’d pull up near a cop’s car asking for directions, and they would always pity us – this sleepy family in a big ole station wagon – and lead us to where we needed to go. Go NYPD.

  2. What a fantastic story!
    I love the policeman, the wrong-way driving and Hadrian’s Gate (and the earthquake). All the elements of a racy best-seller, I think!

  3. ha ha. Don’t you just love the Turkish Policemen?? One did my friend for riding without a helmet but he was not wearing one himself!! He went a bit red when we pointed it out!

  4. @ Belinda: Always nice when someone actually takes you to where you want to go. I’m terrible at remembering directions. 🙂

    @ The Dropout: That’d be nice – the racy best-seller, I mean. 🙂

    @ Natalie: Ha ha. Yeah, never quite sure of the reception you’re going to get. 🙂

  5. fatoshilla says

    Isn’t it very Turkish of the policeman being a good example for “rules are for tourists” ?

  6. @ Fatoş: Sometimes, it’s very useful being a foreigner in Turkey. 🙂

  7. Loved this story and the kindness of the policeman and laughed about your comment “‘Why does the conversation never go well when we try to speak Turkish?'” as I wonder the same thing myself when trying to speak German.

  8. @ Laurel: We psyche ourselves up, plan the conversation in our head, and you can guarantee the person you’re speaking to will throw something into the conversation that completely throws you! 🙂 All part of the fun, I guess.

  9. Very nice of the policeman to help you out, I totally hear your frustration about the language, due to language barrier I ended up in Mongolia last August! Ok, from China, which is kind of closer, but still..!

  10. Same thing happened to us in Ghent in Belgium. Totally lost in the centre of the city and a policeman told us to follow him. Down a one way the wrong way and through a pedestrian only square!! Straight to our hotel.
    My last dealings with the Turkish police was last year when they gave me a spot fine for speeding on the way to Dalaman Airport!! But they were very pleasant about it!!

  11. @ Angela: Ha ha, that must win the prize for going the most out of your way! Language is a strange thing isn’t it?! 🙂

    @ MBS01: I think a lot of policemen like to be nice to foreigners so you get a good view of their country – even when they’re being pleasant while giving you a fine! 🙂 I never know which speed I’m supposed to be doing. A few more signs wouldn’t go amiss.

  12. Am I ever so glad that I can finally read you again- from Marbella. What a funny story and yes, the Turkish policemen are a friendly lot (ehmmm most of the time).

  13. Cute story!You guys got a glimpse of VIP life in Turkey- police convoys and all. I do want to applaud you guys for at least making an effort to speak in Turkish.

  14. I can almost see the video of this in my head – and the first awkward exchange with the police. Great story and love how getting lost can be such a good travel experience (thankfully 😉 !

  15. @ Inka: I think foreigners are looked after in Turkey very well by the police and jandarma. 🙂
    @ Grace: We always like to try the Turkish and we shall never be defeated – except we usually are! 🙂
    @ Anil: A travel experience is always good – even if it’s not good! 🙂

  16. I wonder if he ever thought he’d be immortalised in a blog post! 😉

  17. @ Corinne: I think a lot of the people in the world are now unknowingly immortalised in blog posts. 🙂

  18. Ellen Rabiner says

    This story is a perfect illustrations of two thruths about living in Turkey: 1. Learning Turkish is really hard. I often find that I know what the words mean, but still don’t understand what’s being said; and 2. There are no traffic laws in Turkey, just suggestions.

  19. @ Ellen Rabiner: Thanks a lot for your comment – especially one where we couldn’t have written it better ourselves! 🙂 Perfectly described that traffic laws are read more as ‘suggestions.’

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