Well, I think that we can start by saying that Turkey has developed a lot – seriously a lot over the last 70-100 years. Which country hasn’t !! But even by western standards Turkey has nevertheless evolved enormously. Just think that nearly 100 years ago, Turkey was still referred to as the Ottoman Empire, which – admittedly had shrunk in size, but after all, still was a Sultan-domination. It has always sounded very exotic to me with Sultans, harems and Ottomans, as it was a completely different culture with different customs etc.
Subsequently there has briefly been Italian domination in the western parts of Turkey, until the Turkish Republic founded by Ataturk in 1923. That the country was revolutionized with the West and Europe as an example, has obviously had great influence.
The province and city of Antalya has obviously not stood back for this development. It estimates that in 1930, there were about 30,000 inhabitants in Antalya. Today it is estimated that there live about 800 thousand to 1 million inhabitants alone in Antalya city, while in the entire Antalya region live almost 2.3 million. And in addition, millions of tourists. That’s what you can call growth !!
This naturally means, that there are not that many people today, who are originally from Antalya. Many are migrants from neighboring provinces, who have come in search of work and fortune in the big city. This unfortunately means, that in the periphery, as in Kepez up the mountain, there ia a lot of slum with tin houses or housing in extremely poor condition (“Gecekondus” they are called). It is believed, that are between 50-60,000 of these homes with about 250,000 residents.
We have a real “Antalyan” in the family – and we are really proud of him. Izzet Amca, my husband’s uncle Izzet, is one of the few we have ever met who is originally from the city. His family belongs to some of the few, who have lived here for generations, and he is very proud, when we say that to him (otherwise he doesn’t make a big issue of it). However, he was really happy when we one day many years ago told him, that we had met another, who also belonged to the original. A noble elderly gentleman, who was serving in one of the really old guesthouses, Tekeli Konaklari and eatery and hotel down town. He beamed also of joy, when we told him, that one from our family was also from the city. So you might almost sense, that origin does matter – at least it is an unavoidable topic of conversation in such a large country as Turkey.
Although I have come to the city for many years, I must admit, that the figures from Kepez scares me a lot. Aprox. ¼ of the city consists of poor people with or without work! It’s a lot – and way too much. It amazes me, that there aren’t more beggars, when the number is so high. Of course there are some, but it’s not often you see them (and not in the city center or old town).
But there must be a lot of work to get after all, since the number of tourists has increased steadily. This was until 2015, when the number went steeply down again due to unrest and insecurity in the country. Antalya is still considered as a “tourist capital” of the southern Turkey and draws about 30% of the total number of tourists to Turkey.
I think, it’s really fun to look at old pictures of the city. Here you can really see how the city has evolved and is just growing and growing. But it’s also really fun to see all the different influences, that have been on the city. There are clear signs of Romans, Seldjukker, Byzantines, Ottomans, Italians and the more modern approach from the 70s and later by the last major urban renewal during the past 10 years.
It’s quite fascinating to see, how much land, which have been withdrawn and now belongs to the city. The picture above is taken from the Old Town Kaleici towards the district Bahceli Evler, next to Konyaalti. Naturally, the outskirts are first built, but also the inner city has changed quite a bit, although it’s more strictly urban renewal and maintenance of the beautiful old buildings. Fortunately, the Turks have been aware of this for the last 10-15 years.