top of page
  • hbanziger

B + 11 : Theodosian Walls in the Mediterranean and an ancient ship yard on Dana Island

As we head further east, the distances are getting longer. We are now in the eastern part of Turkey. There are no leisure boats any longer and tourism is purely local. We finally meet Turkish families from Ankara who spend their summer holidays on the Mediterranean as well.

Fattah and Omar ferry us to Dana Island to explore the old shipyards

To break our long journey today, we stoped at Dana Island, about two hours into our trip. We wanted to explore one of antiquity's oldest shipyard which was in business already in the Bronze Age, in the 12th century BC. At that time, the hills here were still forested. Dana Island saw its peak just before the Phoenicians arrived. If this interests you, here is a good summary:

The old pier of the ancient Dana shipyard - could not find its original name

Old dockyard with working platforms on either sides - now filled with debris of course - we found more than half a dozen of these docks

There were also several fresh water cavern cisterns carved deep into the lime stone rock - the island must always have been rather arid

Cristalized sea salt can be found everywhere on the rocky shore

Salty indeed!

We then sailed another 4 hours to Kiz Kalesi or ancient Corycus with its famous sea and shore castle. Corycus was a strategically important harbour of the former Kingdom of Armenia built during the time of the crusades. The crusaders had defeated the squabbling Seljuk Turks on their way into the Holy Land. Armenian Nobles used the opportunity to establish an Armenian Kingdom on the shores of the Mediterranean. The Kingdom did not have the strength to defend itself and relied heavily on the help of the Crusaders. As luck had it, Mongols invaded Anatolia in 1243 and annihilated the Seljuk Army exactly when the Egyptian Mamelukes kicked the Crusaders out of Palestine. The Armenian Kingdom became a Protectorate of the Mongolian Empire for 100 years. But with the Mongols retreated from the Middle East, the Mamelukes took the now lonely kingdom over. By 1512 it was a mere Ottoman province. We will find testimony of the Kingdom's existence in the many castles they built. Not having enough men to fight open battles, they built impressive fortresses.

The Kingdom of Armenia (1195 - 1375) - a buffer state between the Muslim & Christian world

Arriving at Kiz Kalesi in the late afternoon - the sea castle is just in front

Of course we could not resist the temptation of visiting the sea castle - the landing on these rocks was a bit rough but we made it safely over

There is not much left inside the castle - having no strategic value for the Ottomans, it was plundered and the stones were used for other purposes - wonder why the walls still stand

After our short visit we decided to inspect the land castle a bit closer - maybe there was more to see there

Entrance to the main castle with its impressive double walls - built like the Theodosian Walls in Constantinople - tried to find out whether they were ever breached but no luck. In several armistices with the Mamelukes the Armenian Kingdom was forced to hand over its fortresses.

A good shot of the double walls on the eastern side of the castle

The castle also had a protected harbour inside the walls - now filled with debris - am sure Venetian Merchants were here since the rulers in Cyprus and Armenia had very close ties and gave Venetian Merchants trade privileges.

The sea gate to the protected harbour reminded me of the river gate in the Tower of London - could well be that they were built at the same time by Norman Knights

The castle's walls were strengthened with ancient columns taken from the ancient town of Corycus next door - no wonder Corycus looks so plundered - the dismantling must have started in the 7th century when people deserted it for the same reason as all the other towns on this coast - the grain trade with Egypt collapsed and the towns were raided by the Arab forces who pushed right to the Taurus Mountains in the 7th century AD.

Ancient Corycus is now a shadow of its former glory and resembles more a quarry today

View from the top of the theatre over Corycus - few ruins are left of the ancient town

The peaceful excursion of Turkish tourists does not hint at the violent past of this region when it was the borderline between two civilisations - the Muslim and the Christian - eight hundred years ago

9 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page