Because of its natural strategic position on a small peninsula into the Mediterranean Sea below the Taurus Mountains, Alanya has been a local stronghold for many Mediterranean-based empires, including the Ptolemaic, Seleucid, Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman Empires. Alanya's greatest political importance came in the Middle Ages, with the Seljuk Sultanate of Rûm under the rule of Alaeddin Kayqubad I, from whom the city derives its name. His building campaign resulted in many of the city's landmarks, such as the Kızıl Kule (Red Tower), Tersane (Shipyard), and Alanya Castle.
The Mediterranean climate, natural attractions, and historic heritage makes Alanya a popular destination for tourism, and responsible for nine percent of Turkey's tourism sector and thirty percent
of foreign purchases of real estate in Turkey. Tourism has risen since 1958 to become the dominant industry in the city, resulting in a corresponding increase in city population. Warm-weather sporting events and cultural festivals take place annually in Alanya. Mayor Hasan Sipahioğlu, of the Justice and Development Party, has led the city since 1999.The city has changed hands many times over the centuries, and its name has reflected this. Alanya was known in Latin as Coracesium or in Greek as Korakesion from the Luwian Korakassa meaning "point/protruding city". Under the Byzantine Empire it become known as Kalonoros or Kalon Oros, meaning "beautiful/fine mountain" in Greek. The Seljuks renamed the city Alaiye (علاعية), a derivative of the Sultan Alaeddin Kayqubad I's name. In the 13th and 14th centuries, Italian traders called the city Candelore or Cardelloro. In his 1935 visit, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk finalized the name in the new alphabet as Alanya, changing the 'i' and 'e' in Alaiye, reportedly because of a misspelled telegram in 1933.