The castles we here hunting for were the castles that guarded the passes through the Taurus Mountains from the Anatolian Plateau down to the Cilicain basin. The so called Cilician Gates. It is the classical route that invaders have used since time immemorial. Cyrus the Great and his Army of the 10,000 on his way to Greece, Alexander the Great on his way to fight the Persians, Paul the Apostle on his missionary journeys, The Knights of the First Crusade on their way to Jerusalem all came through here. The Germans also built the rail line to connect Istanbul with Baghdad through these passes. So castles were built to guard the passes and control the passage of people and goods. There are three main passes and each is guarded by a castle (the main pass by 2). And we went and saw each one.
The first castle is called Tekir Castle. It was a small castle and not as old as others- probably dating to the medieval period. But because it is newer the walls were in good shape. The thing the kids liked most was the turtles. That’s right turtles- actually tortoises and there were a bunch of them. And they were pretty big. We found 5 in the hour we spent at the castle. And the first ones we found were um… mating. That’s right- spring was in the air and they were going at it. At least the male was. The female was just not that interested. Maybe she had a headache. No surprise given that the way the male shows his interest is to ram her shell repeatedly with the front of his shell. That’s right. Just banging away and it was loud- could hear “bonk, bonk, bonk” all over the mountain. Maryn was pretty embarrassed and the boys didn’t understand what was going on. But it made it pretty fun for the kids (they usually tire of the actual castle part after about 5 minutes).
The next castle was Gulek Castle. And it was not as impressive as I had hoped but I had been warned in advance. It was built on a promontory so there were not many walls (why build walls when nature has given you a cliff) and the walls that were there were in pretty poor repair. There was a cool gateway and a few little towers but that was about it. What made the site interesting was the views. The views from Gulek were stunning. In all direction you could see forever. It was said the sentries at Gulek could see an army three days away. And I believe it. We had a picnic lunch with a campfire (again- had to keep the kids interested and my kids love fire. Wonder where they got that from). And then on to the next site.
The little black strip Bennett is pointing at is the 6 lane freeway at the base of the hill.
The next castle was on the other side of a steep gorge. Without a paved road. In the rain. Sounds fun. Lets go. The view was stunning. With the cool air and the rain in the pine trees I could have been in Oregon. We switch-backed down the mountain to the river at the bottom. It was running high due to snow melting and the rain but true to my word I said the kids could go swimming. They got their suits on and went to the water and put their feet in and retreated from the freezing water and back into the car. We tried to make it up to them with a little fishing but the flow was too fast and I’m not sure I had the right tackle. A local turk (out walking her goat) tried to help but the language barrier made it impossible. So we pushed up the other side of the gorge and on to the next site.
And then to the car and home.