Alanya Tourist Attractions
South coast (Eastern Mediterranean)Situation and CharacteristicsAlanya (previously Alaja) lies on the east side of the Gulf of Antalya below a rocky promontory of marble crowned by a Seljuk castle.
Away from the coast the land rises almost without interruption to the summit of Ak Dagi (2,647m/8,685ft), a bare karstic peak forming part of the Taurus range. With its delightful setting and subtropical climate - dry summers and very mild winters - Alanya is popular for both winter holidays and as a seaside resort. A fine beach offers some of the best bathing in Turkey. In addition to this there is the attraction of the town's Seljuk architecture.HistoryKnown in antiquity as Korakesion (Coracesium), Alanya was a Cilician frontier fortress on the border with Pamphylia. In the second century B.C. Diodoros Tryphona, a pirate chief, erected a fortress on the hill; this stood until destroyed by Pompey in the final stages of his campaign against the Mediterranean pirates. Passing into Roman hands the town was later given by Antony to Cleopatra. It became a place of real consequence only after coming under Seljuk rule in 1221. Alaeddin Keykubad constructed a great stronghold on the promontory (completed in 1231) and transformed the town into an important naval base.
Alanya's somewhat rambling Old Town dating from Seljuk and Ottoman times lies sandwiched between the lower and middle (south) walls of the fortress on the eastern slopes of the promontory. The fortress itself stands on even more ancient foundations. The more modern town extends along the shore northeast of the promontory, ending among fruit orchards.
A road winding its way through the Old Town of Alanya climbs the citadel hill (250m/820ft) to the courtyard of the upper fortress, at the north end of which stands the castle mosque (Kale Camii). In the same courtyard are a ruined cruciform Byzantine church and, at the southern end, a lighthouse erected in 1720. Adjoining the west wall is the citadel proper, in a good state of repair. It affords superb panoramic views over the Mediterranean coastal plain, taking in the scattered houses of Alanya, the fruit orchards and the Ak Dagi Massif.
A road runs south through the Old Town of Alanya along the shore of the promontory to the Kizil Kule (Red Tower; restored in 1948), a 46m/150ft-high octagonal structure with sides 12.5m/40ft in length. The massive corner bastion was built for Alaeddin Keykubad in 1225 by the Aleppo architect Ebu Ali, who was also responsible for the castle at Sinop. The purpose of the tower was to protect the Seljuk dockyard immediately to the south.
The Seljuk dockyard in Alanya, quarried out of the rock in about 1227 and recently restored, has five vaulted galleries 42.5m/140ft long and 7.7m/25ft wide with linking arched entrances. Here Alaeddin Keykubad built the warships which enabled him to extend his power across the eastern Mediterranean. Timber for the ships came from the Taurus mountains, abundantly wooded at that time. The dockyards remained in use until about 1950.
In 1948 workmen quarrying at the foot of the promontory in Alanya, on its northwest side, at the end of the west beach, discovered the Damlatas Cave containing huge stalagmites nearly 15m/50ft high (damlatas = "limestone formation"). Inside the cave the temperature remains a constant 22°C/72°F summer and winter. The radioactivity and high carbon dioxide content of the atmosphere (five times higher than in the open air) make the cave popular with local people suffering from asthma or bronchitis.
Map of Alanya Attractions