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Alanya, which has one of the most remarkable views on Turkey's south coast, lies on a rocky peninsula jutting into the sea. It possesses interesting houses, sheer precipices, and fortification walls. The first known settlement founded on the site of present day Alanya was Coracesium, meaning rock. This city was sometimes included in the province of Cilicia, sometimes in Pamphylia. Strabo, proceeding west to east in his description of Cilicia, starts with Coracesium, describing it as a castle set on a steep cliff.
Due to its ideal harbour and eminently defensible situation, this site served in almost every period as a pirate's or rebel's den. For this reason it was the only Cilician city to resist Antiochos III in 199 B.C. A half century later, Diodotos Trypon, the local ruler, also refused to remain allied with Antiochos VII. Piracy in the Mediterranean in the first century B.C. was a great economic and political problem for the Roman Empire; the seizure of grain ships by pirates reached such proportions that it threatened even Rome with widespreaad hunger. For this reason, Puplius Servius was sent to Cilicia in 78 B.C., and organized a series of campaigns against the pirates, but the was ultimately unsuccessful. Next he was empowered by the Roman Senate in 65 B.C., and he subdued all of the pirate strongholds by attacking them both by land and by sea. Coracesium, was the last to fall, and in the process not only was the pirate fleet destroyed, but the city's fortification walls were pulled down and the stones pitched into the sea.
During the Roman imperial era, Coracesium must have become a large city, for in the second century it began for the first time to mint coinage in its own name.
Not much is known about Coracesium in the first centuries of Christendom and the early Byzantine period. Together with its neighbours Cilicia and Pamphylia, it must have accepted Christianity at an early date.
This period, too, witnessed a change in the name of the site; it became known as Kalonoros or Beautiful Mountain. This name continued to be employed in various permutations well into the Middle Ages. Even after its conquest by the Turks, the city was known by the Venetians, Genoese, and Cypriots under the rubric Candelor, Scandelore, or Galenorum.
As soon as the Rum Seljuk sultan Alaeddin Keykubad I (reigned 1220-1237) ascended the throne, his first strategic ploy was to move against this castle. On securing its surrender from its ruler Kyr Vard, he affixed his own name to the town, calling it Alaiye. İts proximity to the Seljuk capital of Konya as well as Alaeddin's harbour improvements, assured the town's rapid development. Because the sultan wintered in Alanya, the town witnessed much construction activity, and was provided with the wonderful buildings we see today.
After the collapse of the Seljuk state, this area passed into the control of the Karaminids and was sometimes administered by local rulers swearing allegiance to them. Often the Lusignan kings of Cyprus tried to lay hands on Alanya, and the Turks and the Egyptians used it as a base from which to invade Cyprus. With the rise of the Ottoman Empire, commerce in the eastern Mediterranean declined, and Alanya lost most of its former importance. Today, Alanya is one of the best preserved of all Seljuk cities.
The eastern section of the Alanya castle borders the sea and is protected at the site of its conjunction with the northern wall, by a large octagonal tower known as Kızıl Kule, or the Red Tower. This tower is 29 metres in diameter and 33 metres high. Despite its simple exterior, the tower's interior consists of a series of defensive systems combined with a complex five-storey plan. The two lower storeys of the upper portion is built of reddish bricks, giving rise to the tower's name. Inscriptions record that this tower was built for Alaeddin Keykubad in 1226 by the architect Abu Ali of Aleppo. The tower was restored between the years 1951 and 1957.
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