History Of Kalkan

Hotels in kalkan

There is no specific data on when Kalkan was founded, but one of the legends which is most widely accepted is that a woman from the Island of Meis came with a boatload of goods which she tried to sell to the villagers around the Kalkan area. Her venture was successful and other tradesmen from Meis followed her example and actually moved to Kalkan about 150 to 200 years ago, thus making Kalkan a small trading coastal post. The original settlers were of both Greek and Turkish origin and were subjects of the Ottoman Empire. It is interesting to note that the architectural style of the Kalkan resembles that of the houses in Meis (Castellorizo), which incidentally until the early part of the twentieth century was considered to be the sponge capital of the world.

Very quickly, within a period of 25 years, Kalkan grew to its present size and became a successful community. The rapid growth of Kalkan can in all likelihood be attributed to the fact that Kalkan has the only hospitable harbor between Kas and Fethiye.

Once again, there is a legend attached to the question. During the mid-nineteenth century the area was plagued with bandits who frequently raided the small coastal settlements at night. At this particular time, there was an unfortunate farmer who lived on the outskirts of the village and it was his farm that was one of the marauder’s favorite targets. Using farm implements at hand the farmer improvised and defended his property with his home-made shield and weapons and became known locally as "The man with the shield" - "Kalkanli".

Because of the mixed population, (Ottoman subjects of Greek and Turkish origin) people started to call the village "Kalamaki" and it is thought that this name was derived from the Greek word "kalamari (squid)" which were plentiful in the surrounding sea.

Also within its history Kalkan has been known as which is Turkish for port/quay/jetty.

The building that many consider to be the symbol of Kalkan, the Mosque standing above the harbor was formerly a Greek Orthodox Church. This lovely building was built in the later part of the nineteenth century and the ornamented church bell, dated 1897, mayw be seen in the foyer of the townhall.

Earlier I mentioned that Kalkan had been called Ýskele indicating a place where boats are loaded. During the late nineteenth century Kalkan reached its peak and actually became the most important trading port serving the Teke Peninsula. Kalkan was more important even than Fethiye or Antalya and produce was brought in from the highlands (as far away as Elmalý) and the Patara Plain. In those days it must have been quite a sight to see the cameleers driving their camels into Kalkan/Ýskele loaded high with goods which would be unloaded by burly porters at the quayside into small boats which would, in turn, off-load onto the ships anchored in the bay. These ships, laden with cargo, sailed to the Eastern Mediterranean, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, Cyprus, Rhodes and other destinations which were all part of the Ottoman Empire.

Not too long ago, I met an old fellow who had lived in Kalkan in 1915 and he told me that at that time there were seventeen restaurants in Kalkan where you could eat and drink, a goldsmith, shoemaker and several tailors. In fact, at the beginning of the twentieth century, Kalkan had its own custom’s house and in 1928, the first local elections were held. In 1937, the present elementary school was opened and it was one of the few elementary boarding schools in existence in Turkey at the time.

Also, it is often a surprise for people to learn that there was a thriving charcoal making industry throughout the area and especially in Kalkan. Another rather amazing product of the area was silk and as you walk around Kalkan today, you will spot several mulberry trees. In addition, to the exportation of charcoal and silk cocoons, you had bales of cotton, olive oil (again manufactured in Kalkan as it is today), grain, sesame seed, flour from the local mills, grapes, wine from the Kalkan winery, acorns used in dye fabrication as well as lumber from the cedar and pine forests.

Change initially started to take place during and after, especially after, World War I, when in 1921 the exchange of population took place between the young Turkish Republic and Greece. During that time a lot of Greek subjects left Kalkan but nevertheless active trading continued before fading away in 1950s. One of the major factors contributing to the decline of Kalkan was the vast improvement of the Turkish road system and in particular, the completion of the coastal road in 1960, which meant that goods could be moved from place to place by overland transport rather than sea. I always think of the late 1950s as signaling the end of the first phase of Kalkan’s economic growth.

During the 1960s, the local population of Kalkan slowly started to leave the village and because the people were essentially traders, they went to places like Ýzmir, Antalya and Fethiye, where they were able to establish themselves and conduct their business. At that time Kalkan became something of a ghost town, but it was also round about then that tourism began with the arrival of wealthy English yachtsmen. As early as 1956, Freya Stark was mentioning Kalkan in her book The Lycian Shore

Perhaps, within the context of tourism, it should be mentioned that since the early times the wealthy residents of Kalkan have departed to their summer homes in the mountain village of Bezirgan and transhumance still continues today.

Akin pension was the first pension to appear and was quickly followed by other early entrepreneurs like the famous former Turkish rock star Erkut Taçkın (Pasha’s Inn and Lipsos) and Tiraje hanim (Balikçi Han and the Han). Tourism in general was greatly enhanced in 1984 when the road connecting Kalkan with Fethiye was asphalted.

History of Kalkan, Kalkan History, Old Kalkan