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HISTORY OF ALANYA

Alanya is a touristic centre on Turkey’s Mediterranean coast, 135 kilometers east of Antalya. Excavations have shown that the Alanya area was inhabited as early as prehistoric times. Alanya first appears in the 2nd century B.C. as a pirate lair and it was known then as Korakesion. The Romans later captured the town in their campaign to suppress piracy in the eastern Mediterranean. It came under Byzantine rule after 395. In 1220 the Seljuk sultan Alaaddin Keykubad I took the city and had the great castle and dockyards built. Known then as Alaiye, a name derived from that of the sultan, the city was used by the Seljuks as their naval base in the Mediterranean and it remained an important military post in Ottoman times. A century later the Arab traveller Ibn Battuta visited Alanya and described it thus: The city of Alaiye is a large town on the seacoast. It is inhabited by Turkomans and is visited by the merchants of Cairo, Alexandria, and Syria. The district is well-wooded and wood is exported from there to Alexandria and Damietta, whence it is carried to the other cities of Egypt. There is a magnificent and formidable citadel, built by Sultan Alaaddin at the upper end of the town.

The “magnificent and formidable citadel” was built by Alaaddin Keykubad I in 1226 on the site of an earlier fortress. (Strabo refers to one being here in Roman times.) It consists of three sections: an inner keep, the central castle, and an external redoubt. The inner keep contains cisterns, the ruins of a Seljuk palace, a fresco-decorated courtyard, military fortifications, and a Byzantine chapel in the middle. At the northwestern corner is a place where prisoners condemned to death were hurled over the precipice by means of catapults.

The central castle contains a masjid built in 1230 by Aksebe Sultan as well as her tomb. Süleymaniye Mosque was originally constructed in 1231 but was rebuilt during the reign of Süleyman the Magnificent when an Ottoman arasta (row of shops) was added. There is also a 17th century Ottoman khan. Located on the outer walls of the castle is Kizil Kule (Red Tower), so called because of the red bricks used in its construction. This octagonal structure was built in 1227 and stands in all its magnificence even today. (It is particularly impressive when illuminated at night.) Adjacent to the tower are the dockyards where five vessels could be worked on at a time. Next to the dockyards is a tower called Tophane Kule (Arsenal Tower) where cannons were cast during Ottoman times. Nearby close to the seashore is a cave called Damlatas. The humid air inside this cave is supposed to be good for those suffering from asthmatic problems. Alanya’s archaeological museum contains numerous interesting works and is well worth a visit. Owing to its vital importance as a naval base, Alanya was connected by roads that went east and west and into the hinterland. (The Seljuk capital was up country in Konya.)

ALANYA SIGHTSEEING AND HISTORICAL PLACES

Alanya Castle , the walls of which are nearly 6.5 kilometers long, is on a peninsula whose height is up to 250 meters from the sea level. Although the settlement on Alanya peninsula, also known as Kandeleri, dates back to the Hellenistic Era, its cultural characteristics that can be seen today are thanks to Seljuk of the 13th century.

The citadel was constructed on the demand of the Sultan of Seljuk, Aladdin Keykubat, who conquered and had the city rebuilt in 1221. The castle has 83 towers and 140 bastions. Nearly 400 cisterns were built to supply the city surrounded by walls in the medieval times with water. Some of the cisterns are still used today. The walls were built in a well-planned manner; downwards to Ehmedek, İçkale, Adama Atacağı, the upper part of Cilvarda Bay, Arap Evliyası Burcu and Esat Burcu, then through the gun house and the dockyard and they end up in Kızılkule-İçkale An open-air museum is located at the peak of the peninsula. Alaaddin Keykubat, the Sultan, had his palace built there.

Today the citadel is still inhabited by people. In front of wooden and brick houses of historical value, silk and cotton are woven, white gourds are painted in different figures and authentic meals are served in small gardens. There are also restaurants and cafés on the way to the citadel and on its sides overlooking the harbour. The citadel is open to traffic. It takes you nearly an hour to walk to the citadel.

It's in the harbor. The octagonal shaped building, which is the symbol of the city, is a work by the Seljuks of the 13th century. It was built in 1226 by Ebu Ali Rehç el Kettani, a master builder from Aleppo who had built the citadel of Sinop before on the demand of Alaaddin Keykubat, the Sultan of Seljuk. It was made of red bricks, the upper parts of which had been fired, since stone blocks were difficult to lift at a certain height, thus it was given the name of Kızıl Kule (Red Tower).

Marble blocks of the antiquity are seen in the walls of the citadel. The height of the tower, which is octagonal in shape, is 33 meters and it is 29 meters in diameter Each of its walls is 12.5 meters long. There are five floors, including the ground floor. You can go to the top of the tower with the help of stone stairs that are high-spaced and have 85 steps. Sunlight coming from the top of the tower even reaches the first floor. There is a cistern in the middle of the tower. The tower was built in order to protect the harbor and the dockyard from naval attacks and was used for military purposes for centuries. Being restored in 1950s, the tower was opened to visitors in 1979, and its first floor began to be used as the museum of Ethnography.

Its construction started in 1227, six years after the Sultan's conquest of the city, near Kızıl Kule and was finished in one year. The side of the dockyard overlooking the sea and having five cells with arches is 56.5 meters long and it is 44 meters in depth. The area selected for the dockyard was planned to have the most sunlight. The statement on the front door of the dockyard has the Sultan Keykubat's armorial bearings and is decorated with badges.

The dockyard of Alanya was the first one of Seljuk in the Mediterranean. Alaaddin Keykubat, who had the dockyard of Sinop built before, was given the little of "the Sultan of the two seas" with the opening of the dockyard of Alanya. On one side of the dockyard there is a small mosque, and a guard room on the other. In one of the cells there is a well that has dried up in time. You can go to the dockyard by boats or on foot passing the walls near Kızıl Kule and enter the dockyard without any payment.

This museum, a house where Atatürk stayed in February 1935, was opened up to the public in 1986, commemorating Atatürk's visit to Alanya. The first floor of the museum is an exhibit of Kemal Atatürk's personal belongings, photos, historical documents and a telegram he sent to the people of Alanya. The rooms on the second floor, on the other hand, serve as a showcase for an old Alanya-style home where examples of local ethnographic items are on display.

The museum has 1 exterior and 14 interior exhibition halls, where prehistoric and historic artifacts dating back to the Phrygians, Lydians, Greeks and Byzantine periods, are on display. The exhibits include a large coin collection and a bronze sculpture of Heracles from 200AD, which has become a popular symbol for the museum. Another section of the museum houses ethnographic artifacts from the Seljuk and Ottoman eras, and the replica of an old Alanya room is well worth a look. The museum garden is dotted with Bronze Age, Phrygian, Lydian and Urartian effects and Hellenistic pottery items. The garden also boasts a large variety of plant and animal species.