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Nude hotel opens — briefly — in Turkey

He can't offer orgies, but the owner of Turkey's first nudist hotel promises good times.

He will begin working on a second naturalist hotel in Marmaris this week that he claims he can already fill with an overflow of reservations. He plans to open the project, called Panorama Park, by the end of the season.

When Mustafa Kemal Ataturk founded the republic in 1923, he imposed a vigorous doctrine of secularism. While the country is 99 percent Muslim, how one's faith is understood and practiced has largely been a personal, rather than a public, matter. With the rise this decade of Turkey’s governing Justice and Development Party (AKP), whose roots in political Islam are well-known, tensions between the two camps have been on the rise.

The AKP’s supporters argue that the threat to secularism is exaggerated, pointing to their party’s pro-EU stance, democratic reforms and economic successes. Their opponents, meanwhile, frequently accuse the party of being held back by its Islamic past and quietly implementing a conservative agenda.

“‘A good Muslim does not do …’ seems to be the direction of the AKP government's acts that [are] also the driving force of social change in Turkey,” said Soner Cagaptay, director of the Turkish Research Program at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, in a recent op-ed published in the Turkish daily Hurriyet. 

For Kosar, it is simply an issue of mutual acceptance.

“Naked is not our culture, but it’s the tolerance of other people that is the point,” Kosar said. “If I must respect a religious hotel, they must respect a nudist one.”

When asked why he chose Turkey as the first country in the region to be home to a nudist hotel Kosar answered with a cheeky “Why not?” again harking back to the lovely Aphrodite of Knidos.

While the statue no longer exists, the beguiling figure of Aphrodite of Knidos once stood naked, a towel held loosely in her left hand. As legend goes, the goddess was incensed when she saw the statue displayed in Knidos for the first time, angry that Praxiteles had seen her naked.

The statue was one of the most widely copied figures of the ancient world and replicas reside everywhere from the Vatican Museum to the Musee du Louvre in Paris. Her most recent devotee was Salvador Dali, whose 1981 painting by the same title was one of the last works he ever created.

“Now history is moving full circle,” said Kosar. “After 1,700 years, Datca is known for a nude hotel.”