The Castles in Kızkalesi

One of my favorite locations in Turkey is definitely Kızkalesi, a small resort town in the Eastern Mediterranean region. Being a resort it's usually packed during summers. However, winter means the sun worshipers have left and the beaches are empty. It becomes perfect for people like me who neither like hot weather nor crowds. Landscape photography also becomes easier and the unpredictable weather in November is perfect for making interesting pictures. Especially in combination with the medieval castles in Kızkalesi

The icon of the town, maybe even the whole area, is the castle built on a small island a few hundred meters offshore. This castle is known as Kızkalesi (The Maidens Castle), and has also given name to the town. Yet another castle is located right on the shore. In fact the whole area is packed with historical sites, the ruins of ancient sites are within walking distance from each other. Even though I cannot recommend walking on the dangerous roads around here!

Kızkalesi is also known as the influential ancient city Corycus, of which many ruins can still be found in the area. The contemporary name comes from a legend involving a maiden who was told by a fortune teller that she would meet her fate by the bite of a snake. Terrified by this news her father, the king, built a castle on an island to keep her safe. Unfortunately the story ends in tragedy when a snake eventually finds its way onto the island in a basket.

The now visible stages of the castles were built about a thousand years ago after the region returned to Byzantine hands during the crusades. Around hundred years later the island castle was reconstructed during the reign of the Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia. The characteristic round towers are from that time, while the older square towers are Byzantine constructions.

The land castle is characterized by being partly constructed from the ruins of ancient Corycus. Everywhere in the towers and walls of the castle you can see parts of the ancient city. Some rocks have ended up in random places and parts of old texts with them. Other parts have retained their functions, such as lintels and arches. Some rather creative applications can be seen as well. For example old columns have been placed horizontally to reinforce towers.

An Opportunity

While walking on the beach trying to find a composition of the land castle I noticed the waves left a reflective surface on the sand. I realized I can get the reflection of the arch if I wait for the right wave. It took a few tries until I was happy but it was worth the wait.

The castle has more interesting features, and I will definitely return here to try out the place in different conditions. Our next goal for the day was to explore the vast necropolis and to reach the church ruins on the hill behind the castle. Preferably before the sun sets.

Continue to the necropolis...

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