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Magnificent Castles of Turkey

Rumelihisarı (Istanbul)

Built between 1451 and 1452 on the orders of Sultan Mehmed II, the Rumeli fortress was commissioned in preparation for a planned Ottoman siege on the then-Byzantine city of Constantinople. It was designed to cut off naval army and give logistical difficulty to foreign troops that could potentially come to the Byzantines' aid by way of the Bosphorus Strait. That is also the reason Rumelihisarı's other name is "Boğazkesen", or "Strait-cutter" Castle. Its older sister structure, Anadoluhisari (Anatolian Fortress), sits on the opposite banks of the Bosporus, and the two fortresses worked in tandem during the final siege to throttle all naval traffic along the Bosphorus, thus helping the Ottomans achieve their goal of making the city of Constantinople (later renamed Istanbul) their new imperial capital in 1453.


After the Ottoman conquest of the city, Rumelihisarı served as a customs checkpoint and occasional prison, notably for the embassies of states that were at war with the Empire. After suffering extensive damage in the Great Earthquake of 1509, the structure was repaired, and was used continuously until the late 19th century.

Today, the fortress is a popular museum open to the public, and further acts as an open-air venue for seasonal concerts, art festivals, and special events.

Üçhisar Castle (Kapadokya)

Üçhisar is located at the highest peak in Cappadocia where you can see Mount Erciyes from. What makes this castle so enchanting is the fact that many of the rooms are carved into the rocks. While some of them are connected by stairs, some of them are connected through tunnels. There are also churches carved into the rocks both outside and inside the castle itself. There are graves from the Byzantine era on top of the castle, however, they have been eroded in time.


Castle of St. Peter's (Bodrum)

Built from 1402 by the Knights Hospitaller, the Castle is easily the most prominent landmark in the city. The castle now operates as a museum, with the focus on the Museum of Underwater Archaeology (see below). It is one of the world's best-preserved monuments dating back to medieval times. With an underwater archeology museum inside, this ancient castle was built by knights of several countries in 35 years by 1937. Inside the museum, you can see amphoras from the 4th Century B.C, as well as ships on display from similar eras.


Çeşme Castle (Izmir)

The Castle of Çeşme is a monument left from the Ottoman Empire’s Beyazid II. In the past, the castle was used to protect the town from weather conditions, as well as the enemy ships. Nowadays, it operates as a museum showcasing archeological findings from the ancient civilizations around.


It was built in 1508 and repaired by Sultan Beyazıt, son of Sultan Mehmet the Conqueror (Mehmet Fatih), to defend the coast from attack by pirates. Later, the Rhodes-based Knights of St John of Jerusalem also made use of it. Today, the well-preserved battlements, with its six towers and moats on three sides, offer excellent views of Çeşme. It also houses two historical museums. One museum features artifacts from the nearby ancient city of Erythrai and the other focuses on the events of the Russo-Turkish War. The Castle is also used for the International Cesme Music Festival, held in the first week of July every year. The Castle is guarded by a statue of Cezayirli Gazi Hasan Pasha, one of the naval commanders of the Battle of Çesme. Pasha is depicted caressing his famous pet lion and facing the Town Square. 

Castle of Kayseri (Kayseri)

kayseri kalesi

The castle is a monument from ancient times and first mentioned in a coin during the rule of Gordian III between 238 and 244 AD. It went through multiple additions starting with the Romans, continuing with the Byzantines, Danishmends, Seljuqs, Dulqadirs, Karamanids, and Ottomans. The castle, located in the eponymous city, is made of an inner and an outer section with a total of 18 towers. What separates Castle of Kayseri from others below is the lack of a beautiful scenic sea view. It was built for a strategic importance in the heart of the city, to protect and hold the city together during invasions.


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