Alanya is a seaside resort city and district of Antalya Province in the Mediterranean Region of Turkey, 120 km 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.
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.
The relatively moderate Mediterranean climate, natural attractions, and historic heritage makes Alanya a popular destination for tourism, and responsible for nine percent of Turkey’s tourism sector and thirty percent of foreign purchases of real estate in Turkey. Tourism has risen since 1958 to become the dominant industry in the city, resulting in a corresponding increase in city population. Warm-weather sporting events and cultural festivals take place annually in Alanya.
The city has changed hands many times over the centuries, and its name has reflected this. Alanya was known in Latin as Coracesium or in Greek as Korakesion from the Luwian Korakassa meaning “point/protruding city” Under the Byzantine Empire it become known as Kalonoros or Kalon Oros, meaning “beautiful” or “fine mountain” in Greek The Seljuks renamed the city Alaiye, a derivative of the Sultan Alaeddin Keykubad I’s name. In the 13th and 14th centuries, Italian traders called the city Candelore or Cardelloro In his 1935 visit, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk finalized the name in the new alphabet as Alanya, changing the ‘i’ and ‘e’ in Alaiye, reportedly because of a misspelled telegram in 1933.
Since the first modern motel was built in 1958, considered the first year of the tourism industry in Alanya, hotels have raced to accommodate the influx of tourists, and the city as of 2007 claims 157,000 hotel beds. Damlatas Cave, which originally sparked the arrival of outsiders because of the cave’s microclimate, with an average temperature of 22 °C and 95% humidity, is accessible on the west side of the peninsula with trails from Damlatas Beach. Many tourists, especially Scandinavians, Germans, Russians, and Dutch, regularly vacation in Alanya during the summer months. They are drawn to the area because of property prices, warm weather, sandy beaches, access to Antalya’s historic sites, and fine cuisine. Other outdoor tourist activities include wind surfing, parasailing, banana boating and Turkey’s largest go-kart track. Hunting season also attracts some tourist for wild goat, pig and partridge hunting in area nature reserves.