Mamure Castle

Eastern Mediterranean

This tremendous castle, with its crenellated walls, 36 towers and part of its moat still intact, is the biggest and best-preserved fortification on the Turkish Mediterranean coast. The rear of the castle sits on the beach, where sea turtles come in summer to lay their eggs, while its front end almost reaches the D400 highway.

At the time of writing, the castle was undergoing an extensive (and long overdue) restoration, which should hopefully be completed by the time you visit.

Mamure Castle as it stands today dates from the 13th century; it was constructed by the rulers of the Armenian kingdom of Cilicia on the site of a Roman fortress dating from the 3rd century AD. Mamure was taken by Mehmet I of Karaman and his troops in 1308 and alterations began, including the addition of a mosque in the eastern courtyard. Here you'll also see remnants of an aqueduct that brought water from the mountains 5km away, a stable that looks like a garage, and the holes in the walls that served as the guards' barracks. To the west is the kaleiçi (inner castle), the nucleus of the entire fort where the castle commander and other top brass lived.

Climbing the castle's towers, especially the one with a dungeon within, is something of an adventure, although some stairs are pretty crumbled, so use extreme caution. Your reward is an astounding view of the sea and the ruins of hilltop Softa Castle (Softa Kalesi), another fortress built by the Armenian rulers of Cilicia near Bozyazı some 14km to the east.

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