The Republic of Turkey rose from the ashes of the Ottoman Empire after its defeat in the First World War. After the War of Liberation was won under the able leadership of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the Republic was declared in October 1923. The Republic has since been successfully progressing in its level of contemporary civilization.
Antalya also benefitted from the developments made in this period, including the areas of education, healthcare, land/air/sea transportation, and urban development, all of which are essential for a city’s material progress and the wellbeing of its citizens.
Thanks to advances made in areas such as health, engineering, architecture, roads, communications, and fine arts, Turkey is steadily progressing towards the level of contemporary civilization as stipulated by Atatürk.
During the Republican era, methods developed in the field of agriculture, improved seed types and resourceful irrigation systems throughout the water-rich lands of Pamphylia have increased productivity. This has had a positive impact on the welfare of the region and increased the share of Antalya in the national economy.
Dams constructed for irrigation purposes have been built on rivers with high flow rates in the province of Antalya. Large-scale hydroelectric dams were also built and have an important share in the electricity production of Turkey.
The Oymapınar Dam, built north of the Side Tourism Region on the Manavgat River (Ancient Melas), is among Turkey’s most important investments in hydroelectric energy. Behind the dam wall, the enormous Oymapınar Dam Lake is formed in the deep valleys and canyons of the Taurus Mountains. It attracts a large number of tourists for its water sports as well as for its stunning views and relaxation opportunities.
From the 19th century onwards, Western travellers, followed by architects, painters and archaeology enthusiasts started to explore and identify areas mentioned in the Bible. These travels led to the emergence of archaeology, which today is one of the most important catalysts for tourism.
Even a passing look at history books or a short excursion to the region, allows people to understand the proper place of Anatolia in world history.
In the Republican era, all the material and spiritual wealth created by the Anatolian peoples of civilisations of the past thousands of years have been accepted as an integral part of the national identity. Excavations have brought to light the remnants of many civilisations in Anatolia, rightfully earning it the distinction of an “open air museum.” Initially, the excavations were carried out by Western archaeologists, but with the improvement in archaeology training in Turkey they have been increasingly carried out by Turkish archaeologists. Antalya has become one of the most important locations for archaeological and historical research. Archaeological tourism is a vital and unique component of tourism in the region.
Inhabitants of the region created numerous buildings and artefacts over thousands of years, which were gradually lost in time. Religious buildings such as temples and churches and civilian buildings such as agoras, baths, theatres, stadia, fountains and city gates are today being unearthed and restored. Some of these restored buildings are now available for public use and in particular for tourism.
Antalya welcomes more than ten million tourists every year with its award winning airport. Its modern harbour caters to an increasing number of cruise ships each year. It possesses a well-developed transportation network which connects the whole region. In this way, Antalya is connected to Isparta, Burdur and Afyon, which lie in the same manufacturing and geographical basin and to Pamukkale and Cappadocia further afield, which are among the worlds most visited historical and touristic sites.
The founder of the Republic of Turkey, Atatürk, visited Antalya during the days of the War of Liberation. On his visit he told local officials that ancient artefacts must be safeguarded so that they would not fall into the hands of the enemy. He also urged that a museum be established to protect the artefacts found in the region. This begun the process which led to the establishment of the Museum of Antalya, considered among the best in the world today.
On a visit to the region in the first years of the Republic, Atatürk visited Aspendos Theatre, advised the local officials to clean up the theatre and suggested that it should be used for cultural events, which was its main intended purpose in history. Due largely to this suggestion, Aspendos Theatre has been reverted to its original function and today hosts the world-renowned annual Aspendos Opera and Ballet Festival organised by the Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism.
Antalya, whose journey towards civilisation started from the Karain Cave, has successfully utilised its wealth created by agriculture, animal husbandry, trade and shipping, by transforming it into architectural marvels and urban development throughout history. The pace of development has considerably accelerated during the Republican Period, promising Antalya even a brighter future.