Architecture of Kalkan
Kalkan does not seem to have been a place of
settlement in antiquity (then known as Phoenicus), though it was the place of
the only safe harbour between Kaş and Fethiye and would have offered safety to
ships during rough weather. Indeed, a fierce battle was once fought in the
bay after Roman and Rhodian ships, unable to attack the neighbouring Lycian port
of Patara due to bad weather, found short-lived safety in Kalkan's bay.
Read about the battle here. Today's ships still find safe harbour in
Kalkan when the seas are rough.
The Lycian coast was
its piracy and Kalkan bay no doubt provided a convenient hiding place for pirates to
suddenly pounce upon the many heavily-laden merchant ships sailing by.
Kalkan became an important port during the 19th
century - even more so than
Fethiye or Antalya, its two larger neighbors. It was settled 150 to
200 years ago by people of both Greek and Turkish origin subject to the Ottoman
Empire and was known by its Greek name "Kalamaki." Camels brought goods to Kalkan from the nearby Xanthos valley and
from as far away as the mountain highlands near Elmali. Cargo ships were
then loaded in Kalkan's harbour to sail for the far reaches of the Ottoman
Empire carrying charcoal, silk (you can see many mulberry trees in Kalkan
today), olive oil (still produced in Kalkan) and wine, as well as cotton, grain,
sesame seed, flour, grapes, acorns used for dye, and lumber from the vast cedar
and pine forests.
By the early 20th century Kalkan had become quite a sizeable
village. At the turn of the century it had its own customs house and in
1915 there were reportedly seventeen restaurants, a goldsmith, a shoemaker and
several tailors. The first local elections were held in 1928 and in 1937 the
present elementary school was opened.
Kalkan in the 1950's
Following World War I, the exchange in
population between the new Turkish Republic and Greece took place in 1923 after
the Turkish War of Independence. Most of the Greek origin people then
living in Kalkan left Turkey. Some went to the nearby Greek island of
Meis, but most were resettled near Athens. They were resettled as a community
(like most Greek immigrants from Turkey) and named their new town "Kalamaki",
after Kalkan's previous name.
Kalkan circa 1960
Trading continued until it faded away in the
1950s due to the improvement of the Turkish road system and the adoption of
overland transport. With no more sea trade, the population of Kalkan trickled away
moved to larger coastal cities to find work. Luckily, Kalkan was saved by the arrival of wealthy
English yachtsmen in the 1960's and tourism eventually became the main economy of
Kalkan. Because of this, Kalkan has retained its historic charm. Strict building
and preservation codes
are enforced and many of Kalkan's buildings are listed. Because of the
determination to keep Kalkan beautiful, Kalkan has a specialness to it lacking
in many other towns along the coast.
Despite the changes tourism has brought to the people of
Kalkan, traditional life still continues for many of the
local residents. Historically, many locals of Kalkan have owned land both in
Kalkan and in the nearby mountain village of Bezirgan, set in a beautiful valley
17 km from Kalkan.
Today many of these
residents continue to follow the pattern of their ancestors, spending summers in the coolness of the mountains and
winters near the warm coast.
Kalkan's Ottoman Greek origin can still be seen in its
distinctive architecture which is very similar to the architecture of the nearby
Greek island of Meis (Castellorizo). There is also a Greek Orthodox
church by Kalkan's harbour which has been converted into a mosque.
As you walk about Old Kalkan you will notice much historic architecture.
This architecture is very special, of the traditional 'Kalkan Style', and is
well-preserved and protected.
Old Kalkan's houses line narrow streets winding
up from the harbour and are quite beautiful, often covered in bougainvillea.
They are characteristically built of stone with small shuttered windows and
timber balconies, whitewashed walls and contrasting woodwork. and often have
courtyards and gardens. Narrow passages criss-cross between the houses. To
combat the heat of
houses were built for coolness. Balconies, terraces and courtyards were
constructed to create cool, comfortable areas, while small windows could be
tightly shuttered from the hot noon sun. Windows and balconies of the upper
floors face the sea to take advantage of any breezes.
Old Kalkan buildings
are usually two
stories high, unless the road is very steep. In this
case there is sometimes a mezzanine. Behind the pediment
(the hallmark of the traditional Kalkan house) is the
red-tiled roof and chimneypot. Ground floors are usually
used as shops or for storage while residents
live on the floors above.
Decorative elements can be seen in the sills placed between
the floor levels and the tops of windows and on the corners of buildings
enhanced with pilasters and pseudo column capitals. Adorned pediments grace
facades, and dentils and cornices decorate eves.