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When Atatürk visited Alanya

When Atatürk visited Aspendos in 1930 he received an invitation from Alanya to visit the town and he promised the inhabitants that he would do so in the near future. In his spare time Atatürk often travelled around the country and he was sailing in the Mediterranean in 1933 on the ship Gülcemal when he received a telegram from Alaiye, which was the town’s name at that time. However the town name was written as Alanya, due to a mistake in the interpretation of the Morse code. After looking at the telegram Atatürk asked: “Can I change the name to Alanya? In fact, that is a good name let it be Alanya from now on.”
Two years later, in 1935, Atatürk was on board a destroyer of the Turkish fleet and he asked for the course to be set for Alanya so that he could fulfil his promise to visit the town.
Early in the morning on 18 February 1935 – one day before planned – the ship called at Alanya harbour and Atatürk disembarked.
Due to the early arrival, the official welcome committee was not there but a soldier recognized Atatürk and soon he was officially welcomed.
After having rested, shaved and had breakfast, Atatürk walked around the streets of Alanya listening to the people and their problems.
“Where are you from?” he asked one. “Alaiye” the answer was. “No, it is called Alanya” Atatürk replied.
Another wearing a woollen coat was asked: “Have you made it yourself?” When the answer was positive, Atatürk expressed his appreciation by tapping the person on the shoulder saying: “Nice, really nice”.
Later that morning, when Atatürk was about to leave Alanya, a fisherman with two boxes of tangerines approached and gave the boxes to the crew on Atatürk’s ship. “Where are they from?” Atatürk asked. The answer was: “From our garden, General, from our garden”.
In fact the tangerines were not his own. However, both the real owner of the tangerines and the people of Alanya approved the idea and quick thinking of giving somebody else’s tangerines as a present to Atatürk and his crew.
Shortly after his visit the people of Alanya sent a telegram to Atatürk thanking him for his visit and saying that they thought it was too short. Atatürk wrote back: “I was deeply touched by the kindness shown and happiness caused by my short visit to Alanya. Even though the visit was very short there is no reason to believe that I didn’t feel I needed to stay longer. Again I want to express my best wishes to the people of Alanya. K. Atatürk”.
The house where Atatürk stayed during his few hours in Alanya is today a small museum where pictures and some of Atatürk’s personal belongings are exhibited.


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