Elmali is a town and district in Antalya Province, the Mediterranean region of Turkey. It lies about 35 km (22 mi) inland, near the town of Korkuteli and 110 km (68 mi) west of the city of Antalya. In 2007, the population for the whole district was 36.213, of which 14,038 live in the town of Elmali. Formerly known as Kabali and Emelas.
Elmali is a small plateau at the head of a long upland valley in the Beydaglari range of the western Taurus Mountains, surrounded by high peaks including the 2500m Elmali Mountain. Aside from the town of Elmali, the district includes two other small towns (Akcay and Yuva) as well as villages. The area is watered by streams running off the mountains. Although close to the Mediterranean, Elmali is high in the mountains and has an inland climate of cold winters and hot summers, (although still much cooler than the coast). Near to Lake Avlan there is an area of cedar forest, rare in Turkey.
Excavations, by Machteld Mellink from Bryn Mawr College, of the burial mounds of Semahöyük and Müren have shown signs of copper production dating back to 2500 BC. The area was later a key town in the north of the antique province of Lycia, and the Lycian Way trade route came through here. It was a small town of Asia Minor in the province of Konya in the Ottoman era, then the administrative centre of the ancient Lycia, but not itself corresponding to any known ancient city. According to Britannica, the town was inhabited by direct descendants of the ancient Lycians, who had preserved a distinctive facial type, noticeable at once in the town population. There were about fifty Greek families, the rest of the population (4000) being Moslem (as of 1911). The plain was subsequently controlled by the Ancient Romans, Byzantines, and the Seljuk Turks. The town was the headquarters of Beylik of Teke clan of Anatolian Turkish Beyliks when it was brought into the Ottoman Empire at the time of Sultan Bayezid I. It remained a key mountain stronghold in the Ottoman period and through the early years of the Turkish republic, but has declined as recent generations have left the dry mountainside for jobs on the coast or in Turkey’s major cities.
The district’s economy is largely agricultural; 37% of the land is planted. In keeping with its name, (literally apple-town) Elmali produces 12% of the Turkey’s apples. Other fruit and vegetables are grown here too, the local leblebi (dried chick peas) is delicious.
Few tourists come to Elmali although the town is beginning to attract visitors thanks to its rich traditional architecture and beautiful mountain surroundings; these people are either day-trippers or passing through en route to the Mediterranean coast, but do bring important income to the area. Also some residents of the coastal towns such as Finike, Fethiye or Kas have holiday homes in Elmali, a retreat from the summer heat on the coast. There is little industry or manufacturing in the district, only a brickworks, flour and feed mills, and a fruit juice plant.
Most people live in cottages and wooden houses, but there are some apartment buildings in Elmali itself, a small town of 14,500 people with banks and other essential services. The infrastructure in the villages is basically little more than telephones, and elementary schools. Each village used to have a traditional guest house (köy evi) but many are in disrepair today.
The cuisine is typical of Anatolia, you will find ladies grilling the flat bread gözleme by the roadside, but Elmali is known for its various ways of using sesame, including baked beans served with a lemon and sesame relish (Antalya usulu piyaz). Another local speciality is a goats milk ice-cream. And of course one of the most delicious things in Elmali is the cool mountain spring water. Or a glass of tea made with it.