The History of Alanya

Alanya is a city situated in the Mediterranean, in the eastern coast of Alanya Bay of the Anatolian Peninsula and its history dates back to the antiqity. However, the research done in Kadı ini Cave, near the city centre, in 1957 showed that the first settlement in Alanya dated back to late Paleolitic Age 20 thousand years ago.

The first known settlement founded on the site of present day Alanya was Coracesium, meaning rock. This city was sometimes included in the province of Cilicia, sometimes in Pamphylia. Strabo, proceeding west to east in his description of Cilicia, starts with Coracesium, describing it as a castle set on a steep cliff.

It is not yet known by whom or when Alanya was built. As a city, it first appeared in history during the antiqity. In the antique era Alanya was situated between the boundaries of Pamfilya and Kilikya, and was sometimes considered to be a city of Kilikya and sometimes a city of Pamfilya. Heredot states the people that lived in the region between Pamfilya and Kilikya one descendants of people who spread to Anatolia after the Trojon war. The first historical name of Alanya is Coracesium. The person who mentioned the name of ‘Coracesium’ for the first time in history was 4th B.C. geographer Skylaks. At that time this region was under the invasion of the Persians. After some time the city become an important center for the Mediterranean pirates and got strong enough to resist the Roman navy and became a base of the frightening pirate of the Mediterranean: Dryphon. Although VII. Antiochus, the Selefki king of the Syrian region, conquered the city in 139 B.C., Coracesium continued to be a home for the pirates for some more time. In 65 B.C., the city became a part of Rome after a naval attack by the Roman Commander, Magnus Pompelus.


Following the collapse of Rome, the city went through the Byzantium era and had a new name; Kalonoros which means beautiful mountain, that was given by the sailors. In the 7th century the city resisted the Arabian invasion by strengthening its walls. When the crusaders conquered Istanbul and established the Latin Empire instead of the Byzantium in 1204, one of the feudal lords, Kyr Vart, who benefited from the lack of authority in Anatolia, took the control of Kalonoros.

In 1221, The Selcuk Sultan Alaaddin Keykubat, seized the control of the city that he had besieged for some time, without fighting against Kyr Vart, who surrendered. Alaaddin Keykubat got married to Kyr Vart’s daughter and had the city reconstructured and made it a winter capital city for the Selcuks. He gave the city, the name of Alanya after his own name. With its magnificient monuments and historical structure, Alanya, founded by Alaaddin Keykubat has been given the status of World Culture and Heritage nominee city by the United Nations science, culture and art institution; Unesco. Alanya, which had its most brilliant era during the reign of Sultan Alaaddin Keykubat , began to be controlled by Karamanoğulları principality whose center was Konya, after the collapse of the Selcuk State in 1300. They made Alaiye a part of Memluk State in Egypt in 1427, in return for 5.000 golds. Alaiye was made a part of the Ottoman Empire in 1471 by Gedik Ahmet Pasha, who was one of the commanders of Fatih, the Conqueror.

The Ottomans made Alanya a part of Cyprus State in 1571 and then a part of the principality of Konya and finally that of Antalya in 1868 and in 1871 it was an administrative district of Antalya. The city was given the name the name of Alanya in 1933 with the suggestion of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of The Republic of Turkey. Alanya was an agricultural city, depending on the production of citrus fruits and bananas in the first half of the 20th century, whereas it became a center of national tourism activities based on health due to the refreshing air of Damlatas Cave in 1950s. The touristic movement of the city gained an international dimension, improving at a great pace with the help of its historical background and natural beauties. Today, Alanya is one of the biggest touristic centers of the Mediterranean with its capacity over 100 thousand beds used for tourists.


Due to its ideal harbour and eminently defensible situation, this site served in almost every period as a pirate’s or rebel’s den. For this reason it was the only Cilician city to resist Antiochos III in 199 B.C. A half century later, Diodotos Trypon, the local ruler, also refused to remain allied with Antiochos VII. Piracy in the Mediterranean in the first century B.C. was a great economic and political problem for the RomanEmpire; the seizure of grain ships by pirates reached such proportions that it threatened even Rome with widespread hunger. For this reason, Puplius Servius was sent to Cilicia in 78 B.C., and organized a series of campaigns against the pirates, but the was ultimately unsuccessful.

Next he was empowered by the Roman Senate in 65 B.C., and he subdued all of the pirate strongholds by attacking them both by land and by sea. Coracesium, was the last to fall, and in the process not only was the pirate fleet destroyed, but the city’s fortification walls were pulled down and the stones pitched into the sea. During the Roman imperial era, Coracesium must have become a large city, for in the second century it began for the first time to mint coinage in its own name. Not much is known about Coracesium in the first centuries of Christendom and the early Byzantine period. Together with its neighbours Cilicia and Pamphylia, it must have accepted Christianity at an early date.

This period, too, witnessed a change in the name of the site; it became known as Kalonoros or Beautiful Mountain. This name continued to be employed in various permutations well into the Middle Ages. Even after its conquest by the Turks, the city was known by the Venetians, Genoese, and Cypriots under the rubric Candelor, Scandelore, or Galenorum. As soon as the Rum Seljuk sultan Alaeddin Keykubad I (reigned 1220-1237) ascended the throne, his first strategic ploy was to move against this castle. On securing its surrender from its ruler Kyr Vard, he affixed his own name to the town, calling it Alaiye. Its proximity to the Seljuk capital of Konya as well as Alaeddin’s harbour improvements, assured the town’s rapid development. Because the sultan wintered in Alanya, the town witnessed much construction activity, and was provided with the wonderful buildings we see today.


After the collapse of the Seljuk state, this area passed into the control of the Karaminids and was sometimes administered by local rulers swearing allegiance to them. Often the Lusignan kings of Cyprus tried to lay hands on Alanya, and the Turks and the Egyptians used it as a base from which to invade Cyprus. With the rise of the Ottoman Empire, commerce in the eastern Mediterranean declined, and Alanya lost most of its former importance. Today, Alanya is one of the best preserved of all Seljuk cities.