The architectural centerpiece of the Center for Eastern Mediterranean
Studies is the McGhee Villa, an Ottoman-era mansion located in the
historic district of Alanya, within the walls
of the castle overlooking the azure harbor. Students, faculty, and
guests at the McGhee Center attend classes and meals at the villa.
The villa also houses a library, study areas, faculty and staff offices,
and space for visiting scholars. Extensive terraced gardens offer
spectacular views of the sea, the mountains, and the city. Planted
with tangerine, lemon, pomegranate, bougainvillea, cypress, oleander,
loquat, olive, oregano, and cactus, the gardens provide a quiet retreat
as well as a spectacular setting for entertaining against the backdrop of
the Mediterranean Sea and the Taurus mountains beyond.
The villa’s history is intertwined with that of the Mediterranean
itself. It was built in the early nineteenth century by a local
merchant who specialized in the export of timber to Egypt. After
World War I and the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, Alanya’s
trade routes were severed and its merchants dispersed. The villa
fell into disrepair and was gradually abandoned as families came to
prefer the comfort and convenience of modern apartment buildings.
Ambassador George McGhee and his wife Cecilia discovered the villa during
their travels in Turkey in the 1950’s and 1960’s. They purchased
the property in 1968 and renovated it as a Mediterranean retreat.
Lodging for groups is provided in a modern apartment
building located halfway between the villa and downtown Alanya – a ten-minute walk to each. Apartments are
furnished, including fully equipped kitchens, bed and bath linens,
wireless internet access, heating and air conditioning, and a common area
with computer, television, and printing facilities.