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10.10.2005

Alanya's graffiti from the Middle Ages being saved

Alanya's museum readies for the biggest open-air exhibit in the Mediterranean

ÖZGEN ACAR


Alanya's port and its shipyard comprised one of the most important sea centers in the Mediterranean throughout the Middle Ages. Today the city is one of the most important tourist destinations on the Mediterranean coast, with many different cultural historic features such as ancient boat paintings drawn on the walls of houses and castles.

The local people of ancient times drew many different marine-related shapes on walls, trees and stones. Alanya is full of such "graffiti" and a local sociologist, Tufan Karasu, has undertaken an interesting study of this graffiti.

Karasu discovered nearly 250 graffiti depictions that were painted some 400 years ago on the walls and towers of castles and ruined houses. He compiled their photos into a book.

He found "very special graffiti" on the wall of a historic burned-out house and decided to tell the story behind the depiction to Seher Türkmen, director of the Alanya Museum. Türkmen agrees that the graffiti, which survived harsh conditions over the centuries, should be protected and supports Karasu on his project. The "two musketeers" visited town Mayor Hasan Sipahioğlu, the self-described protector of Alanya's historical and cultural heritage.

Mayor Sipahioğlu says the graffiti should be protected and that he arranged funding. "We put out a tender for restoration and subsequently made a deal with the ‘Art & Restoration Group,' who were successful in restoring ancient Zeugma. They have restored both the graffiti and the walls."

Mine Yar of the Art & Restoration Group said: "While we were trying to restore the wall paintings (graffiti), we noticed paintings on another wall that was burned and decrepit. We saved it with the help of the municipality."

Alanya Museum's Türkmen said they want to open a maritime section in their museum and feature the graffiti along with other maritime items.

History of ‘Korkesion':

Numerous caves along the Alanya coast are known as "Korkesion" -- the "haven of pirates." One of the biggest caves on this coast was used as a protective cove. It was called "Kalonoros" (Beautiful Mountain) and also referred to as "Kandelor Castle."

Famous pirate Diotos Trylon built a castle on this rocky shore in B.C. 137 and Roman Commander Antonios built a ship here that he presented to Egyptian Queen Cleopatra. Another famous pirate, Antiohos VII, kept his ships in Alanya.

The Byzantines rebuilt Alanya after Roman Emperor Pompeius burned it. The Byzantines constructed their navy vessels in a shipyard they established in Alanya. Seljuk Empire Sultans Alaeddin Keykubat also built a shipyard here in 1221.