Thanks to its location, the mild climate and fertile soil, Alanya has always been a beloved place to live. It’s therefore not surprising, that the history of Alanya is rich and colourful. It’s a story of pirates, Roman Emperors, an Egyptian Queen, a Sultan in need of a winter residence and Atatürk, the founder of modern Turkey.
The history of our beautiful seaside town has been traced back as far as 20.000 years ago. And during those centuries, many rulers, kings and empires left their marks. A lot of them are still visible today.
The earliest name known for the settlement now known as Alanya is Coracesium. This means as much as ‘the crow’s nest’. A perfect name for the inaccessible, rocky, strategically located peninsula. As far as known, this name first appears in writing in the 4th century BC.
In 197 BC Coracesium was able to withstand an attack from the Hellenistic King Antiochius III The Great. Thanks to its strong defensive walls the city stayed independent.
From 137 BC the pirate Diodotus Tryphon started using Alanya as a safe haven. He made the fortress even stronger. Soon Alanya became a hotspot for sea bandits using the town as a base for their illegal practices and plunder.
In the meanwhile, the Roman Empire – reigned by Julius Ceasar – was becoming more and more irritated by the pirates. The bandits attacked their ships that were passing the Eastern parts of the Mediterranean and robbed all the valuable goods.
They gave order to the Roman general Pompeius to establish a fleet to get rid of all pirate activity in the region. After successfully clearing most parts of the Eastern Mediterranean of the bandits, their last remaining stronghold was Coracesium. Finally, with a large battle in 67 BC, Pompeius defeated all the pirates. After this victory, Coracesium was incorporated by the Roman Empire.
Marc Anthony & Cleopatra
The Roman emperor Julius Ceasar and the Egyptian Queen Cleopatra were having a love affair. After his dead, Cleopatra travelled the Mediterranean region where she met the Roman general Marc Anthony in Corcesium. They married and according to the legend, Marc Anthony gave the land to Cleopatra as a wedding present. The queen supposedly loved Alanya and frequently bathed in the sea. The famous beach of Alanya, Cleopatra Beach at the west side of the peninsula, is named after her.
During Byzantine times, the name changes into Kalanoros which means ‘Beautiful Mountain’.
The Seldjuk Sultan
For many centuries, Alanya functions as a seaport. Rulers come and go and the city stays relatively unknown. That all changes in 1221 when the sultan of Seldjuks, Alaettin Keykubat is in need of a winter residence. His capital is Konya, but he prefers to be in Kolonoros during the wintertime. He renames the city after himself: Alaiye, ‘Ala’s Town’. Keykubat considers Alaiye as a second capital of his empire, and under his reign the town develops greatly. The fortress is upgraded and extended to the size it is today. Also the Red Tower (Kızıl Kule) and the Shipyard (Tershane) are build. Alaiye flourishes and becomes an important sea port.
After the fall of the Seldjuk Sultanate, Alaiye was under the reign of some feudal landlord. The rise of the Ottoman Empire changed this eventually. Under the reign of Sultan Mehmet the Conqueror, in 1471, Alanya was incorporated into the Ottoman Empire. Between the 13th and 18th centuries the town prospered thanks to the maritime trade with Egypt, Syria and Cyprus.
In 1923 the Ottoman Empire was definitely abolished by the foundation of the Turkish Republic. The founder and first president, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, visited Alaiye in 1935. The house in which he stayed the night, is now a museum.
Atatürk renamed the city to Alanya.
In 1958 tourism starts to develop in Alanya. Around that time, scientists discover that the air inside the Damlataş Cave at Cleopatra Beach is beneficial for people with respiratory problems. The first tourists come to spend time in the cave, but later the number of visitors to Alanya keeps growing. They love the climate, the nature, the beautiful sea, the beaches…..And when years pass by, Alanya grows into the modern city it is today: a magnet for tourists and foreign investors.