Kızkalesi, where the fate of a princess was sealed in the Mediterranean

A warm breeze scented with oranges and lemons always accompanies you in the Mediterranean lands, while sea salt becomes your companion. With every step you take, you travel to prehistoric and ancient times. Featuring the most beautiful shades of green and blue, the Mediterranean also offers fascinating historic structures for curious visitors. One of the most beautiful gifts in the region is Kızkalesi, which literally means Maiden’s Castle. This amazing island castle is the apple of the eye of the southern Mersin province.

Mersin, pearl of the Eastern Mediterranean

With a coastline on the Mediterranean, Mersin is one of Turkey’s most important port cities, as well as a favorite center for tourists, trade, and agriculture. The historical buildings that the city protects as treasures add to its importance and beauty.

Excavations and studies in Mersin show that the first traces of settlement date back to the Neolithic and Copper Age. Kizzuwatna is the oldest known name for the city and was later called Kue in the Hittite period and Cilicia in the classical period. In the Hellenistic period, the city was given the name of Zephyrion, and according to the historical sources of the time, coins bearing the name of the city were even minted for trade.

A photo of Kızkalesi in 2004. (AA)

With the beautiful blue depths of the Mediterranean stretching out in the foreground and the Taurus Mountains in the background, Mersin is a paradise with its natural beauty. The city is among other favorite Turkish cities, namely Adana, which appeals to the appetite with its cuisine, and Antalya, which draws the eye with its beaches. Kızkalesi in Erdemli district, which has one of the most beautiful beaches in Mersin, is among the city’s historical wonders that help tell its story to visitors.

If you sit on the golden sands along the beach during an afternoon in Erdemli, Kızkalesi will welcome you with all its beauty. All shades of sunshine suit the Mediterranean, but the golden lights that hit this castle island at night offer a particularly romantic setting.

Legend of the Maiden’s Castle

Legend has it that there was a king who ruled over the ancient city of Corycus, which is now occupied by Kızkalesi, centuries ago. This king always wanted a daughter and prayed to God day and night for his wish to come true. The king was finally blessed with a daughter. The girl grew up and became known for her beauty and benevolence. One day, a soothsayer visited Corycus and was brought to the palace by order of the king and asked to comment on the future of his daughter. The fortune teller looked at the girl’s hand and was startled, but she didn’t want to openly share what she sensed. However, at the king’s insistence, she whispered the daughter’s fate to the king. Noting that no one could avoid this fate, she said, “My king, a snake will bite your daughter and she will die. You will not be able to avoid this death and you will experience pain to the fullest.” The soothsayer then left the city, but the king was thoughtful for a long time, trying to think of ways to save his daughter. Although he never told her daughter about her prediction to avoid upsetting her, the ruler considered a solution. during days. Finally, he found a solution to save his daughter’s life. Believing that snakes could not swim, the king had a castle built on the islet near the shore, just opposite Corycus’s castle, and locked his daughter inside it with her servants.

Tourists enjoy the beach in front of Kızkalesi in Mersin, southern Turkey, 2011. (AA)

Tourists enjoy the beach in front of Kızkalesi in Mersin, southern Turkey, 2011. (AA)

The princess, who was unaware of the fortune teller’s prophecy, could not understand why her father had done such a thing and soon grew distressed as the days passed. Although she was a prisoner in the castle, the king did not refuse any of his daughter’s requests. One day, when the princess wanted white grapes from Tarsus, she ordered a basket of grapes from the palace to be prepared. When night fell, the princess excitedly carried the basket into her room to eat the grapes. However, there was a snake hidden in the basket. The poison from her bite kills the young woman, confirming the fortune teller’s prophecy. The castle mentioned in this legend is none other than Kızkalesi in Erdemli, Mersin.

Historical and architectural features.

Kızkalesi is one of the most recognizable historical structures in the ancient city of Corycus, which is on the UNESCO Temporary World Heritage List. The castle is a remarkable building with its original architecture, built on a small islet 600 meters (1,970 feet) offshore. Although it is not known exactly when the castle was built, it is estimated that it was built during the period of Byzantine Emperor Alexios I in the period after the First Crusade. Captured by the Kingdom of Cyprus in 1361, the castle was used as a refuge by pirates during Roman times, according to the Greek historian Strabo. Kızkalesi was as important as the castles on land for the Romans and the Armenians. After 1448, the castle passed into the hands of the Karamanids.

An aerial view of Kızkalesi, Mersin, southern Turkey.  (Shutterstock)

An aerial view of Kızkalesi, Mersin, southern Turkey.  (HAI)

The entrance to the castle, which is located on one of the most popular beaches in Mersin, is located in the north. It is noteworthy that while rubble masonry was used in some places in the castle, reused building stone or spolia was used in the construction of this part. The rubble masonry is thought to have probably belonged to the Lusignan period of the Kingdom of Cyprus. Eight bastions in triangular, rectangular and round shapes were placed along the castle wall, which has an outer perimeter of 192 meters (629 ft). Along the wall to the west of the castle, there is a beautifully preserved gallery and a gate that opens to the sea.

During the restoration carried out by the Mersin Archeology Museum, a complex with a chapel was unearthed in the middle of the castle. This chapel is older than another located in the courtyard of the castle. In addition to the floor mosaics, the opus sectile platform also attracts attention.

Tourists enjoy the beach in front of Kızkalesi in Mersin, southern Turkey, on June 6, 2005. (AA)

Tourists enjoy the beach in front of Kızkalesi in Mersin, southern Turkey, on June 6, 2005. (AA)

While there are cisterns and workshops in the castle courtyard, the rooms around the courtyard open up to a room in the middle. The floors of these rooms, which have a square plan, rise to the north; and there is a five-line inscription in the form of a circular braid on the floor mosaic.

Romantic encounter in the Mediterranean

The interest of local and foreign tourists in Kzıkalesi and its region continues to increase with the Kızkalesi Tourism Festival held every year in Erdemli district and the water sports that are organized within the framework of this festival. With its natural beauty, historical importance and valuable beach, the castle is fast becoming one of the favorite places in the Mediterranean. The Mediterranean is the most beautiful dance of blues and greens, the rhythm of the guitar, the most romantic moment of sunset and the place where the sun shines most beautifully. To experience such beauty at its best, simply visit Kızkalesi and the pristine beach in front of it.

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