Surrounded by walls with 6 km lengths and situated on 10 hectares of a peninsula, Castle of Alanya hosted Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine, Seljuk and Ottoman civilizations.
Unknown about its history of establishment and by whom to found, geographer Scylax from 4th century BC mentioned Alanya as Coracesium at first. Strabon defined Coracesium as the first apparent city if came from west to Cilicia and specified its location on a very steep rock.
Coracesium by convenience of its natural defense and its sheltered port even with a small military became a harbor and center of the piracy in 2nd century BC, ideal for pirates and rebels. Hellenistic wall with large block stone and mortar, found in the part of the Middle Castle (Orta Kale) from Arap Evliyası to Ehmedek, remained from period of Diototos Tryhon, who was the ruler of the city in 2nd century BC.
In 65 BC, pirate dominance ended with Coracesium war, which resulted the victory of Roman Pompeius. The city in Roman time grew by expansion of walls and addition of new buildings. In this period, coins were created in the name of emperors. Samples of coins can be seen in Alanya Museum.
Alanya Castle in Byzantine time with the name of Kalonoros (the beautiful mountain) became a location point for sailors and the busiest port of the Mediterranean. Church in the castle (İçkale), Arap Evliyası, ruins of monastery at Cilvarda point and remains of round – towered wall continued from Middle Fortress (Orta Hisar) to the castle (İçkale) belong to Byzantine period.
In 1221, Kalonoros was assigned to Alaeddin Keyqubad I, Anatolian Seljuk Sultan, by Kyr Vart, a former owner of the castle and its name was changed as Alaiye. Alaeddin Keyqubad I began big construction activities, solidified old walls, built new walls and gave the golden age to Alanya. Today’s existing walls, large cisterns, shipyard, Red Tower, Cannon House, Akşebe tomb and palace complex in the castle (İçkale) are some of the works built by Alaeddin. Ehmedek, Akşebe Small Mosque, Andızlı Mosque, Seljuk and Lower Castle (Asagi Kale) Baths were constructed during Seljuk’s time.
By gaining Alanya, Anatolian Seljuk sultanate had a strong castle in coast of the Mediterranean as well as a strong foundation in both the sea and the land. Alaiye reached a specific status in developing internal, external and transit trade.
Alaiye in the first half of the 14th century remained among important cities of Anatolia and the Mediterranean by an essential naval base as a leading commercial city of Anatolian Seljuk and as a center of trade and shipbuilding by a strong relations with Egypt and Syria. Mostly Egyptian merchants who came for famous cedars used in the construction of the ships as well as Genoese, Venetian and Florentine merchants bought spices, canvas and sugar. Pegolotti in his “practura della mercatura” book introduced a table for weights and measurements used in Alanya with Italian in comparison. Egyptian and Syrian merchants were traveling to the Black Sea ports via Alanya.
Alaiye felt into the Kingdom of Cyprus for a short period after the collapse of Seljuk Sultanate (1293) and then came under the dominance of Ottoman after Karaman and Alaiye principality (1471). Süleymaniye Mosque, covered market with Ottoman bazaar at Upper Castle (Yukari Kale) and traditional Alanya houses are monuments of Ottoman period.
Alaiye in Republican period took its name at request of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, who visited the city.
Many local and foreign travelers mention about Alanya Castle. In 1332, Ibn-i Batuta stated export of timber to Alexandria, Damietta and Egyptian cities; in 1650s, Katip Çelebi noted growing cotton, silk and sesame by comparison of Alanya Castle in point of its magnificence with the Baghdad Castle; and in 1671 Evliya Çelebi expressed that there were three hundreds houses, Süleymaniye Mosque and Akşebe Small Mosque, a cistern, houses without patio in the Middle Fortress (Orta Hisar), two madrasas, six schools, three khans, one bath, one fountain and one hundred fifty shops at the Lower Castle (Asagi Kale), all streets having steps and Access provided by mules and donkeys.
Setton Llyod in his Ala’iyye book separated Alanya Castle as five (5) regions by segmentation of walls. The first region is as a shape of crescent, which its one end is Red Tower and another one the shipyard; second is the lower pitched part of the hill above the first region; third is region of Ehmedek and its extending area to Castle (İçkale); fourth region is Castle (İçkale) and fifth is regions except Cilvarda point.
Being one of the unique examples of the medieval Mediterranean defense structure from 13th century, Red Tower was built by order of Alaeddin Keyqubad I, the Seljuk ruler, to Ebu Ali Reha el Kettani who was a master builder from Aleppo in order to protect harbor, shipyard and Alanya Castle against attacks from the sea.
Red Tower as today and past has attracted the attention with its monumental view and subjected to many books. Evliya Celebi, a 17th century traveler, stated “there is a solid octagonal tower at sea side of Castle of Alanya, this tower can hold two thousands (2000) men during siege and second gateman who live in here has fourty (40) soldiers”.
Due to build on a bedrock at sloping ground, the structure has 33 m at east but 3 m shorter at west side. At bottom main walls, rectangular limestone, uniformly cut and stick together, and classic shafts and red bricks at upper sections were used.
There are a writing “Gratitude to Allah” on north wall surface of the structure, a four-line inscription which is 10 m up from the ground, written on behalf of Alaeddin Keyqubad and stated its constructions as April 1226 and another writing on south wall. Inscription of constructor on right wall of the entrance, name of the master who built the structure is specified. There are total of fifty-six (56) crenel windows at facades of Red Tower, twenty-two (22) spans for pouring hot pitch and water and six (6) gargoyles inline to repel and to make impossible to escape.
With its octagonal plan, Red Tower has a complex plan at inside contrary to its exterior view. Red Tower has five floors as ground and first floors, entresol, open floor and open terrace.
In opposition to its monumental appearance of the structure, probably due to military purposes, ground floor can be reached by a small and simple entrance and a narrow corridor. Surrounding of octagonal pillar in the center covers a vaulted corridor. According to Ibrahim Hakkı Konyalı, the first time of the structure at ground and first floors, there were the lowered rooms made from wood, which extendeded from the beginning of the corridor vault to upper cover, used by guards to rest. The ground floor is used for exhibition area in present.
Reached by a high stone steps, a large cistern is placed at upper part of the foot in the center of 1st floor. Even today functioning, mouth part of the cistern is found at open floor.
One each air shafts are placed in the middle of octagon sides at the base of corridor, close to the cistern. The door at northwestern of the structure, which is at floor used as an exhibition area, opens to the exterior walls. Big ship graffiti can be seen on right wall.
There are spans for pouring hot pitch and water at entresol shaped as a narrow corridor.
There are total of fifteen (16) air shafts in two rows at mouth and surroundings of the cistern in the middle of open terrace. Light entered from these shafts can reached to first floor.
In the past, there was a small tower, which served as sea gate and called Egri Kule, in front of the Red Tower. The tower, its ruins still visible, was connected to Red Tower by a tunnel. An exterior wall down to the sea at north of the Red Tower was collapsed and wharf was built in front. According to the researches, needs of Seljuk vessels such as food, water, soldiers and weapons were obtained from here. In the last period of Ottoman, a word of water supply above the tunnel was found in drawn the project of construction for harbor. A part of the tunnel was collapsed due to road crossing. Connection from tunnel to ships was ensured by a portable bridge or ladder. Gallery part of collapsed tower, which provided a road to back of Red Tower and shipyard, still stands.
Built in period of Alaeddin Keyqubad I, harbor walls form its gorgeous profile by its monumental structures such as Red Tower, shipyard and cannon house and harbor region of Alanya Castle from the sea side. As a port city, since ancient times and especially its hey-days in the Middle Ages, Alanya was considered among busy ports of the eastern Mediterranean basin and hosted merchants of Egypt, Genoese and Venetian. Hundreds of ship graffiti from different eras, which can be seen on walls of various buildings of Alanya Castle, witness connection of Alanya with its sea.
FOUNTAİN WİTH GRAFİTTİ
There is ship graffiti, a distinctive feature of Alanya Castle on fountain, which was uncovered during the landscaping within the axis project.
They were built with quarry stone, grog and brick and there are one each arched spans, which open to the sea on walls at adjoining spaces with collapsed cover of vault. Based on expression about trade by travelers like Ibn Battuta, Evliya Celebi for city identity of old part of Alanya and becoming a popular place for merchants of Egypt, Venice and Genoese, it can be said that these spaces served as entrepôts. Ibrahim Hakki Konyali wrote in his Alanya book that there was a wide wharf for docking between Shipyard and Red Tower, it was protected by tower of Red Tower and Cannon House and depots were kept for ship equipments, supplies and ammunition in the city side of the wharf, but a part of wharf and depots were demolished.
Five – line relief inscription above narrow entrance of the structure, which entered by old harbor on north – west directions, draws the attention. In first line of the inscription, which Alaeddin I was praised as the sultan of the two lands and seas, heraldry in the middle of two rosettes can be seen. While a space with five windows on left of the entrance was used as a small mosque, right was used as an office by shipyard officers. During the work of conservation – restoration within Maritime and Ship Museum project in space of the small mosque, Zulfikar frescoes, symbolizing the justice of Hz. Ali, was uncovered on two opposing walls.
The structure of shipyard consists of five (5) vaulted division and walls with pointed arch, which separate eyes. Its walls made of ashlars and its arches and vaults from brick, ventilation flaps on vaults of the shipyard provides both entering light inside and going smoke outside. A well is found in third division of land side. The structure was built in different levels to hold less for rock fracture. A depot, which carved into the rock, has light through a hole.
Alanya shipyard is a permanent structure, which is not only a shipbuilding or stopover place in winter but also making repair, vessels and ship equipments and having iron atelier, administrative and depot areas. Permanent structures serve for two purposes. The first is to arrange the construction of big ships during winter and second is to hold unused vessels. Enemy navies or pirates were looking for strategical locations to provide big merchant benefits. Alanya had this situation and shipyard as being a part of a complex with two towers in walls, which ensured an appropriate position to protect from enemy attacks. Kitab-ı Bahriye of Piri Reis was determined that the shipyard was supervised by a Commander of Navy Force in permanent, activities of shipyard continued in period of Karamanoğulları and Alaiye Beyliks after Seljuk and ships were built during Ottoman time.
The shipyard, which shipbuilding and repair continued until years of 1960s, serves as a museum for maritime and ship in present.
THE CANNON HOUSE
Cannon House that was built by ashlars protects the harbour and shipyard from southwestern side. Cannon House with two storeys has 19 m height; it connects to the main wall by a vaulted corridor. On the sea side of bottom floor, there are two rooms which has high ceiling that has windows open to the sea and land side. In front of the rooms, after a long corridor you can reach to an entrance that is known as “devil hall” that has windows on the right and left side. You can go to the 2nd floor of the tower after a corridor that has three rooms around two side of it. From three side of this floor have four rooms that have arched doors. Inside of all rooms and parts and arch of doors were built by brick. There is a cistern that provides to water needs of guards.
Five column pieces and statue of a woman on north face and four pieces of marble columns on east face of the structure draw the attention as spolia. Pitch and boiling spans of footstalls, which open to north and south sides of tower is decorated with lion’s head. It is written that the Cannon House was built two years after Red Tower by Alaeddin Kayqubad, the sultan of the land and two seas, in inscription with two pieces on north face of the tower. There is also a two – piece inscription on sea side of tower. Old Alanyalı people mentioned the existence of cannons above the Cannon House in Alanya book of İbrahim Hakkı Konyalı, published in 1946. Evliya Çelebi wrote that a grand tower armed with “Balyemez” cannons protected shipyard and harbor.
Tophane Neighborhood has a fascinating feature by its traditional street fabric with recently restorated traditional Alanya houses. All of these houses, built on quite sloping ground, face to the sea. Each house has its own cistern due to lack of natural water. In the 1600s, Evliya Çelebi stated that access was provided by mules; Martin Leake wrote that he was very surprised by expertly built houses in 1810, houses in Alanya rose as a shape of terrace with back to back, by this rise houses were seemed like overlapping when looked from the counter and flat roof of some part of houses in same line served as door in front and a small street for upper houses.
At the Tophane Neighborhood, presenting the profile of a daily life for Alanya with its old traditional houses and 13th century small mosque, Andızlı and Wooden Minaret Mosques, Hagios Constantinous and Mikail Archengelos Churches as well as an old fisherman’s house which is converted to a boutique hotel after its restoration, gourd crafts workshop unique to Alanya, its friendly people with its sea view, you can also see endemic plant and butterfly species distinctive to Alanya.
THE STRUCTURE OF HİSTORİCAL CİSTERN
13th century cistern structure with its square plan consists of vaulted two adjacent spaces which are bond of quarry stone and mortar. During restoration, two chords connecting two spaces together but closed by laying were cleaned and excavations were made on the roof and surrounding of the structure. The structure of historical structure hosts to different exhibitions after its restoration.
GİRENE FOUNTAİN AND EXCAVATİON AREA
The fountain, a 13th century Seljuk structure, is fed by a spring outside of the wall. To gather water, there is a reservoir built of brick. Water comes both to this fountain and to a cistern of historical bath by earthen ware pipe. There is a Seljuk inscription at pediment of the fountain brought from somewhere else. It is known that people at castle ensured their water needs if required.
During the restoration, an honorary inscription, belonging to early Roman period, was found. As a result of excavations carried out in the ground next to Girene Fountain, a seven steps from walkway at Tophane Neighborhood to this fountain and a space, which its south and east walls are partly preserved, are uncovered.
PLACE OF BOİLİNG MOLASSES (ŞIRAHANE)
South and north walls of the atelier with square plan is partly protected. South and west walls of it are placed on a natural rock. In front of walls, shallow troughs, which two earthenware gutter on west and three on north of the platform that is approximately 60 cm higher than natural rock, are found, are uncovered. It can be said that there was a “Şırahane (mashing grape)” or “Şırahmana (boiling molasses)” in this area by these findings and information received from local people. Next to the place of boiling molasses, a ruin, which has bonding timber with bond of quarry stone, lime mortar plaster and partly preserve south and west wall and wood flooring on the ground, can be seen.
EXCAVATİON IN FRONT OF THE BATH (HAMAM)
During the restoration work of the traditional Alanya house, serving as the Culture Department and the Site Management Office, excavations began because of discovering floor belong to warm room of the bath while removing concrete extensions in front of the structure. In excavations, ateliers, which have the view of plastered walls and crenellated ground, were uncovered. It is estimated that these ateliers were used to make ship materials like canvas, rope, etc…
THE HİSTORİCAL BATH STRUCTURE
The structure with a traditional Alanya house on south of the Red Tower at Aşağı Kale (Lower Castle) is known as Çarşı Bath. The bath, built with quarry stone, brick and lime mortar but repaired by using concrete with cement mortar in the Republican period, is domed in the center, has transversally hot room and dual single room. Hot room was designed in a system as square plan, domed in the center, single rooms in the corners with small domes on the top, which were common in Turkish baths starting from 12th to 20th century. The space is lightened by spans, called as elephant’s eye on the dome. Water of the bath was provided from a cistern found on back of Girene Fountain, built in 13th century and had its water from outside of the wall. Historical bath was operated by owner of the house until 1960s.
They are the structure on Cilvarda point, which is at the end of the peninsula and consists of steep cliffs with 400m length. Even though it is known as “Mint Building” among public, it is out of mint in structures, built from ashlars. One of the stone structures is a church from 11th century; another is likely to be used as a monastery. Dome of the small church remains standing.
On north of Alanya Castle, the structure built for preventing attacks from ground is consisted of two different sections with three – towered.
Built on remains of Hellenistic period one – year after Red Tower by Alaeddin Keyqubad I, more large stones were used if compared to other walls. An inscription is found in the frame, which is at outside of the tower on west. The main entrance of the castle is at eastern face.
Masonry bond from Hellenistic period can be seen at lower part of the wall, which is found on exterior gate at west side of the castle.
Ehmedek was damaged due to earthquake in Kanuni time.
The structure, built by Nevsehirli Damat Ibrahim Paşa (Pasha) in the first half of the 18th century, took today’s shape in the Republican period. In present, this rectangular plan structure, which its control belongs to the Ministry of Transport, is consisted of two sections. There is a light house on east section found at walls.
The structure on southwestern of Süleymaniye Mosque has rectangular plan. Main entrance of the structure built with quarry stone and brick is situated on east. You can pass from aiwan, which is bond of brickwork and mirror vault, to court. At opposite of the entrance with bond of brick, separated by a single line of four columns and had lighting point at middle of the ceiling, there is a close space. It is supposed that the space was used as barn or depot. There are nine boxes with depressed arch at the long edges of the court.
OTTOMAN BAZAAR (ARASTA)
It is a group of the structure with four sections, which are formed by arrangement of vaulted volumes at both sides extending on north – south way, and one section on east – west direction at south end. Quarry stone and upper bond with lowered – pointed vault were used on walls of the building. Ground of the Ottoman Bazaar, having appearance as a cemetery and covered with rubbishes and stones, is filled with grass. The building in present is not quite strong condition. Collapses are seen partly.