Tophane District

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With the ancient name Korakesion, later named Kalonoros (Beautiful Mountain) during Byzantine rule, the Tophane district is considered to be one of the oldest settlements in Alanya. Located between the ancient areas of Pamphylia and Cilicia in the East and West, the first settlers in this area were probably fugitives of the Trojan War. This community, despite continuous failed attempts by the Romans to conquer their settlements, managed to stay independent for a long time, engaging in piracy and sea trade.

The Byzantine rule ended in 1221 when Alaaddin Keykubat, ruler of the Seljuk Empire, conquered the area with the intention to make it a Seljuk maritime town. With the help of Christian Greek craftsmen, or Karaman Turks as they were also called, it took the Seljuks five years to complete building the shipyard, fortified castle and the Red Tower. Therefore, calling non-local skilled masters to help build the city, the area developed into a centre for artists and craftsmen.

Another remarkable historical feature of Tophane is the combination of Turkish and Greek inhabitants. The neighbourhood was formerly made up of 5 separate areas which at one point merged into a single neighbourhood. Some important landmarks are still present, such as two Greek Orthodox churches - the Byzantine Mihailis church and the Agios Kostantinus-, and a couple of chapels. Significant Islamic buildings in the area include the Emin Bedrettin (or Andizli) Mosque.

One of the most important features of the area is its architecture - the traditional houses. A large part of the houses were built by Christian Greek craftsmen from Inner Anatolia, therefore carrying details that are characteristic for that period and place. The houses have one side facing the mountain and the other facing the sea, and most of them have either bay windows or roofed alcoves. Common for the Seljuks, the buildings were constructed using traditional plastering techniques (the plaster was mixed with hemp) and stone walls. Almost every house had its own cistern, most often found in the kitchen.

The area has undergone and is still seeing significant reconstruction. In 1999 a project was developed to protect and preserve the Alanya castle and soon, with the permission of the Alanya Municipality and the Antalya Cultural Heritage Protection Office, the restoration work began. The Tersana region along with the Red Tower were allocated to the Alanya Municipality, so the Red Tower came to be used as a museum and a venue for various exhibitions. Currently, the houses in the Red Tower and Tophane area are being renovated and repared, and a new Maritime Museum is being built in the shipyard.

The region ows its rapid development to growing investments. A complete infrastructure with water, sewage and electrical systems and cobbled streets, as well as the historical milieu and location have made the region a valuable residental and business area. Prominent organizations, such as the Alanya Municipality and Georgetown University have purchased real estate there to serve as summer schools, guest houses and offices. The region is also a perfect place to organize festivities, therefore, various festivals, such as the Tophane Days in April, take place all year round.

Being one of the most well preserved historical sights in Alanya and boasting with the world´s single standing Seljuk fortified shipyard, the Tophane region is applying to be admitted into the UNESCO´s World Heritage list. Along with its athmospheric restaurants, cafés, bars, hostels and inns, Tophane aims to welcome more tourists in the future.

Murat Koçak

Translation by Sandra Vokk

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