Maiden's Castle (Kizkalesi), Mersin, Turkey; Shutterstock ID 2080110652; purchase_order: 65050; job: ; client: ; other:

Shutterstock / Photo Oz

Kızkalesi Castle

Top choice in Eastern Mediterranean

Rising from an island 250m offshore, impossibly romantic Kızkalesi Castle (also called the Sea Castle) is like a suspended dream. Check out the mosaics of birds and trees in the central courtyard, where there are the remains of two chapels side by side, and the vaulted gallery with 13 arches. Walk along the castle walls and climb one of the four towers (the square one at the southeast corner has the best views).

The castle was probably built by the Byzantines sometime after the First Crusade (1095–1099) and was extensively rebuilt in the 13th century by the Armenian King Leo I. It's possible to swim to the castle, but most people catch the boat (₺15 return) from the beach pier near Corycus Castle. Another option is to rent a dolphin- or ducked-themed pedalo (₺15) available near the pier and paddle on over.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Eastern Mediterranean attractions

1. Corycus Castle

0.48 MILES

At the northern end of Kızkalesi beach, Corycus Castle (sometimes called the 'Land Castle') was rebuilt with Roman material by the Byzantines, briefly…

2. Mosaic Museum

2.14 MILES

Narlıkuyu's Mosaic Museum is in a compact 4th-century Roman bath called the Kızlar Hamamı (Maidens Bath). The wonderful mosaic on the floor depicts the…

3. Elaiussa Sebaste

2.32 MILES

Some 4km northeast of Kızkalesi and just off the D400 are the extensive remains of ancient Elaiussa Sebaste, a city dating back to the early Roman period…

4. Caves of Heaven and Hell

2.37 MILES

Near Narlıkuyu, a road winds north for 2km to several caves – sinkholes carved out by a subterranean river and places of great mythological significance…

5. Adamkayalar

2.38 MILES

Tricky to get to, but well worth the effort, is Adamkayalar (Men Rock Cliff), 17 Roman-era reliefs carved on a cliff face about 8km north of Kızkalesi…

6. Astım Cave

2.58 MILES

Around 500m west of the main entrance to the Caves of Heaven and Hell is Asthma Cave (Astim Mağarası), which supposedly relieves sufferers of the…

7. Kanlıdivane

5.03 MILES

About 8.5km northeast of Kızkalesi at Kumkuyu is the 33-54, the road leading 3km to the ruins of Kanlıdivane, the ancient city of Kanytelis.

8. Silifke Museum

12.85 MILES

To the east of Silifke's centre, on the main road heading to Taşucu, this local museum showcases Roman figurines – one in impressive full uniform – and…