Alanya: A Beautifully Preserved Ancient Castle

Public parks were built along both of Alanya’s long sandy beaches; and the town’s main thoroughfare, Ataturk Caddesi was turned into a wider, palm tree-lined boulevard. In tandem with public area improvements, a plethora of large, new hotels have sprung up on the outskirts of town. According to Alanya’s tourism office, there are at least seven five-star hotels in the area – mostly located outside the main city center in Konaklı, Yeşilköy and Okullar – with several new five-star resorts on the way. Among the well-known five-star resorts around Alanya are the Grand Kaptan, Serapsu, Maryan and the Delphin Deluxe Resort.

alanya4Alanya proper is a bustling holiday center of modern hotels and motels, healthy seafood restaurants, cafes and bars, reminiscent of a scaled-down version of Antalya city. Of the six million tourists who visit Antalya and its surroundings each year, one million flock to Alanya. Half of all visitors are German; nearly a quarter are from Russia, and the rest are other foreign tourists as well as Turks, most of whom come from Istanbul.Certainly the weather in the Antalya region is a major draw for everyone who visits.

Of the 88,000-plus, full-time residents of Alanya about 500 are German citizens while in total 5,000 Germans own property and visit during holidays throughout the year. Another half-million or so Germans visit Alanya during spring and summer, occupying its wide variety of pensions and hotels. A major draw for Germans and other Europeans, besides the breathtaking beaches and scenery, is the relatively low cost of vacationing, shopping and living in Alanya. At least three different German-language newspapers are published in Alanya, including Deutshe Alanya Zeitung (www.alanya-dz.com, cost: 2YTL), Alanya News (50 kurus) and Alanya Bote (www.alanyabote.de, cost 2YTL). All three can be obtained at the Tourist information office at the corner of Ismetbalci Street and Damlatas Street; as well as at newsstands throughout the city.

alanya2“I love Alanya. It is a very international city. I like to learn new things about various countries in the world, and I like my work since I meet many personalities from Germany, Russia, from all over,” says Mustafa Tuncer, who elected to live in Alanya 21 years ago back leaving Eskişehir, a city in southwestern Anatolia. Tuncer took with him a local art from his local town, Meerschaum rock carving, which is how he makes his living. A heavyset fellow, Mustafa strikes quite a image lying in the door to his tiny shop off Iskele Street leaned over his fine carvings; a work that’s been passed on in his family for ages. For sale are miniature turtles, elephants, intricately carved pipes, decorative eggs and cigarette holders, all made from the soft Meerschaum stone found exclusively in the Eskişehir region.

“All-inclusive” is another popular draw for those staying at hotels that offer around the clock all-you-can-eat and drink buffets, entertainment and of course accommodation, at varying price levels. Alanya is also a popular summer vacation destination for about 150,000 Russians, who come for the sea and sand. Swedes, Dutch and Israeli travelers too have discovered Alanya. Israelis arrive mostly by large cruise ships and stay just a few hours to enjoy the nightlife and shopping. They also come to take advantage of Turkey’s lenient environmental laws concerning off-road four-wheel and motorcycle adventure touring through the Taurus Mountains (Israel and Europe have much stricter laws governing off-road driving). Large numbers of Turks – families and young singles alike – also enjoy Alanya during the summer when school is in recess.

“We like the sun and the sea of course. It’s cheap here, and the shopping is very good. We don’t leave the hotel much because everything is included there, and they have good nightlife too. I would definitely return to Alanya,” says Gabi Hagen from Heidelberg, Germany, who came to Alanya with her brother Juergen for 14 days. The Hagen’s both wore a blue plastic bracelet with their hotel’s name inscribed on it. The bracelets, which you will see on many a wrist throughout Alanya, are worn to identify the hotel occupants and indicate that they have paid for an all-inclusive package.