Alanya is a resort town on Turkey’s central Mediterranean coast (also known as the Turkish Riviera). Its wide beaches lined with hotels include Cleopatra Beach, where the Egyptian queen reputedly swam. Alanya Castle, a giant Seljuk-era fort turned open-air museum, stands on a rocky bluff above the beachfront, alongside red-tile-roofed Ottoman villas and the octagonal Red Tower, a symbol of the city dating to 1226.
Because of its natural strategic position on a small peninsula into the Mediterranean Sea below the Taurus Mountains, Alanya has been a local stronghold for many Mediterranean-based empires, including the Ptolemaic, Seleucid, Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman Empires. Alanya’s greatest political importance came in the Middle Ages, with the Seljuk Sultanate of Rûm under the rule of Alaeddin Kayqubad I, from whom the city derives its name. His building campaign resulted in many of the city’s landmarks, such as the Kızıl Kule (Red Tower), Tersane (Shipyard), and Alanya Castle.
The Mediterranean climate, natural attractions, and historic heritage make Alanya a popular destination for tourism, and responsible for nine percent of Turkey’s tourism sector and thirty percent of foreign purchases of real estate in Turkey. Tourism has risen since 1958 to become the dominant industry in the city, resulting in a corresponding increase in city population. Warm-weather sporting events and cultural festivals take place annually in Alanya. In 2014 Mayor Adem Murat Yücel, of the Nationalist Movement Party unseated Hasan Sipahioğlu, of the Justice and Development Party, who had previously led the city since 1999.