Red Tower (tr. Kızıl Kule) is an important monument of Seljuk architecture in Alanya that is often used as a symbol of this city. This structure, beautifully situated next to the harbor, is both a distinctive landmark and the popular photo stop for many strolling holidaymakers. The building looks especially spectacular from the deck of a cruise ship or from the castle hill towering above it. On the other hand a small ethnographic exhibition inside may prove to be very disappointing. However, Red Tower is worth a visit if only for the vast panorama of Alanya and the Mediterranean Sea that extends from its top floor.
Red Tower was built in 1226 at the behest of the Seljuk Sultan Alaeddin Kayqubad I. The main architect responsible for the erection of this structure was Abu Ali Reha el Kett from Aleppo. His name was immortalized in the inscription located in the northern part of the façade. The second inscription, dedicated to the sultan himself is on the southern wall of the building. It praises Alaeddin Kayqubad I as 'the ruler of the nations, the Sultan of Sultans, the keeper of peace, the ruler of the land and two seas and the helper of Muslims'.
The tower formed an essential element of Alanya defenses, protecting a shipyard (tr. tersane) built a little later, in 1227, and located nearby. Red Tower also guarded the entrance to the harbor and protected the local fortress, standing higher on the hill, against the attacks from the land. The famous Ottoman traveler, Evliya Çelebi, who arrived to Alanya in 1671, visited Red Tower and described it. He mentioned that during the siege it could provide shelter to two thousand people. During peaceful times, there was a permanent garrison stationed in the tower, consisting of its commander and forty soldiers.
For centuries, Red Tower was used solely for military purposes, but in the 20th century it was transformed into one of the tourist attractions in Alanya. An extensive renovation of the tower was executed between 1951 and 1953, when its interior was converted into a series of exhibition halls. Further restoration work was undertaken in 1979 and it gave the tower its present shape and color. Afterwards the building began to be known as Red Tower, because of bright red bricks that were used in the reconstruction of the upper floors. Red Tower is the best preserved Seljuk building in Alanya and it is also considered to be the most important symbol of the city. A picture of the tower was printed on the reverse of the 250-thousand-lira banknote between 1992 and 2005.
The tower was built of stone, bricks and marble obtained from ancient buildings of Alanya area. The building was erected on an octagonal plan, and each of its eight walls is 12.5 meters (41 feet) wide. The diameter of the building is 29 meters (95 feet) and its height equals to 33 meters (108 feet). The tower has five stories and 85 stairs lead to its top.
Despite the seemingly simple exterior, the tower's interior has a relatively complicated plan. Each floor has a different internal structure, resulting from the military needs. There are small observation gaps in the exterior walls. The whole building is supported by the inner pillar, which forms the central axis of the tower. The interior of this pillar was partially hollowed out thus creating a tank that provided the supply of drinking water for the defenders.
The top, fifth floor, has a form of an unroofed terrace, surrounded by a fortified wall with battlements. That design was supposed to facilitate the defense of the tower during a siege, by providing some protection for archers. There is also a circular walkway that enables walking around the top floor.
Red Tower is open to visitors daily, from 9am to 7pm in summer (April to October) and from 8am to 5pm in winter. The ticket costs 5 TL. It allows visiting the tower itself and some temporary exhibitions organized inside.
The building is located on İskele street, next to the cruise ship port, and because of its distinctive appearance and impressive size is really hard to miss. A path, that starts just behind the tower, leads to the remains of the Seljuk shipyard (tr. tersane) and arsenal (tr. tophane) that are also open to the public. If you continue past these structures in the southerly direction, you will reach the bastion of Esat (tr. Esat Burcu), passing by the ruins of many buildings and a small Byzantine-period church.