In 2011 the city had a population of 964,886 and the metropolitan municipality 1,041,972.
In 2012, Antalya became the third most visited city in the world by number of international arrivals, ranking behind Paris and London, respectively. Antalya previously ranked fourth in the world in 2010 and 2011, with over 10.5 million visitors in 2011.
The city was founded as "Attaleia" (Greek: Αττάλεια), named after its founder Attalos II, king of Pergamon. This name, still in use in Greek, later mutated in Turkish as Adalia and then Antalya. Attaleia was also the name of a festival at Delphi and Attalis (Greek: Ἀτταλίς) was the name of an old Greek tribe at Athens.
It is uncertain when the site of the current city was first inhabited. Attalos II, king of Pergamon, is believed to have founded the city around 150 BC, naming it Attalia and selecting it as a naval base for his powerful fleet. However, excavations in 2008 in the Doğu Garajı district have uncovered remains dating to the 3rd century BC, suggesting that the city was founded earlier than previously supposed. Antalya became part of the Roman Republic in 133 BC when King Attalos III of Pergamon willed his kingdom to Rome at his death. The city grew and prospered during 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: "From Perga, Paul and Barnabas went down to Attalia and sailed from there to Antioch after preaching in Pisidia and Pamphylia" (Acts 14:25-26). The ruins of the 13th-century Selcuk mosque at Attalia was previously a Christian Byzantine basilica from the 7th century. The Great Mosque had also been a Christian basilica and the Kesik Minare Mosque had been the 5th century Christian Church of the Panaghia or Virgin and was decorated with finely carved marble. The archaeological museum at Attalia houses some sarcophagi and mosaics from nearby Perga and a casket of bones reputed to be those of St. Nicholas, the bishop of Myra, further down the Turquoise coast.