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.