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.

Alanya is a seaside resort city and district of Antalya Province in the Mediterranean Region of Turkey, 120 km (75 miles) from the city of Antalya. The municipal district, which includes the city center, has close to 400,000 inhabitants. The population is almost entirely of Anatolian origin, but is home to around 10,000 European residents, with a growing presence in the city and its economy.
alanya castle
Because of its natural strategic position on a small peninsula into the Mediterranean Sea below the Taurus Mountains, Alanya has been a local stronghold for many Mediterranean-based empires, including the Ptolemaic, Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman Empires. Alanya’s greatest political importance came in the Middle Ages with the Seljuk Sultanate of Rûm under the rule of Alaeddin Keykubad I, from whom the city derives its name. His building campaign resulted in many of the city’s landmarks, such as the Kizil Kule (Red Tower), Tersane (Shipyard), and Alanya Castle.

alanya beachIt’s much less crowded than Side, even in midsummer. Most of the old town lies on the great rocky promontory that juts out into the sea, the bulk of which is occupied by the castle - an hour’s winding climb or a short ride on an hourly bus from the tourist office. At the end of the road is the Ic Kale, or inner fortress (daily 8am-sunset; $3), built in 1226 and virtually intact, with the shell of a Byzantine church, decorated with fading frescoes, in the centre. A platform in a corner of the fortress gives fine views of the western beaches and the mountains, though this originally served as a springboard from which prisoners were thrown to their deaths on the rocks below. On the opposite side of the promontory, the Kizilkule is a 35m-high defensive tower that today houses an Ethnographic Museum (Tues-Sun 8.30am-6pm; $1), and has a roof terrace that overlooks the town’s eastern harbour. On the western side of the promontory, the Alanya Museum (daily 9am-noon & 1.30-6.30pm; $1) is filled with local archeological finds and ethnological ephemera, its garden a former Ottoman graveyard. Nearby, the Damlatas (daily 6-10am; $1), is a stalactite- and stalagmite-filled cavern with a moist, warm atmosphere said to ease asthma; it’s accessible from behind the Damlatas restaurant. Alanya’s beaches, though not particularly clean, are extensive, stretching 3km west and 8km east.

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’s bus station is a twenty-minute walk from the centre, but if you come in by local bus from Side or Manavgat you’ll probably arrive at the dolmus terminal, five minutes north of the centre. The tourist office is at carsi Mahallesi, Kalearkasi (daily 8.30am-6pm; tel 0242/513 1240), opposite the town museum.