Saturday, May 12, 2012

Alanya, ancient Anemurium and Mamure Castle

Ancient Anemurium from 1/2 mile at sea
Anemurium--side of basilica
The 66.8 NM passage from Bozyazi harbor to Alanya Marina was yet again done motoring.  I swear there is no such thing as sailing in the Med.  We were able to motor-sail about 2 hours, but that was it.  The rest of the way was 8 hours of pure motoring.  Marina staff directed us to a berth.  
 (As always, click on any image for larger view.)
Directly at our stern across the dock was S/V Hamamas.  We last met Fran and Tom at Rebak Marina in Malaysia.  Yet again an illustration of the smallness of our world.  They wintered here at Alanya Marina.  Our reunion was very short-lived because early the next day they departed for a 3-week sight-seeing trip around Turkey.  We arranged a rental car for the next day.  We did not come here for the amenities of a marina; we came here so we could back-track 50 miles in a car to see the ancient sites that were visible from our sailboat but inaccessible from the water. 

Mamure Castle as seen from our boat
That 50 miles as the crow flies turned into 98 miles each way......winding road up the mountains, down the mountains and around the mountains.  The road was narrow with barely sufficient width to pass the oncoming trucks in many places.  Bill was forced to screech to a halt many times as large trucks came around tight curves straddling the middle line, especially on the outside tight curves high in the mountains.  

Mamure Castle from sea
This is the main highway to get to Mersin, a large port down near the Turkey/Syria border, so lots of goods are transported by truck via this road.  Construction was underway in 3 areas to enlarge the road and straighten it out to avoid some of the tight curves.  

Dusty mountain road construction
Driving behind the trucks was very dusty.  We passed 3 sets of tunnels that were already completed but connecting roads were still under construction.  At one point we passed a car that was upside down in the road.  We could not figure out where this car fell from.  There did not appear to be any roads higher up and there were no impact marks on the front or rear of this car.  It was simply upside down with the roof caved in.  I would be very surprised if the driver survived.  There was an ambulance already on hand and no one appeared to be rushing to extricate the occupant(s) of the wrecked car.  Sad.

Marble quarry
At one place alongside the road there was a large marble quarry.  I had no idea that the marble was formed in straight sheets in the ground.  I always thought the marble was removed in large blocks and then cut into straight sheets.  

Small 2000 yr old homes on hillside at Anemurium
After over 3 hours driving from Alanya we finally arrived at our first destination -- the ancient ruins of Anemurium.  As our guide book states:  "The extent of the ruins and the completeness of parts of the old city give the impression of a ghost town."  We had seen Anemurium when we motored past the previous day.  Even over a half-mile offshore these ruins were impressive.  Even from way out there it looked like a stone ghost town.

Note random large stones turned vertically.  This
greatly increased stability of the thick walls.
Anemurium was occupied by various peoples from the 12th century B.C. through the 7th century A.D.  Hanoii celebrated its anniversary of 1,000 years in October 2011.  Anemurium was continually inhabited for about 2,000 years.  Yet hardly anyone has ever heard of  Anemurium.  It was almost eerie walking around and inside the old stone buildings.  It would have been nice to have had a guide to make the stones tell us their stories; but there are no guides for this site, just a ticket booth.  And the attendant stays in a house nearby rather than manning the ticket booth.  

The only other visitors
I think visitors are rare for this site because it is well off the beaten tourist path.  We were the only people there........and a herd of goats with their dog, of course.  Can't go anywhere without encountering a herd of goats or sheep and their herding dog.

Small home. Niches on each side of doorway would
have held statues of gods during Roman times.
Most of the surviving buildings date from Roman times with some later Byzantine additions.  The city is supposed to have been founded by the Phoenicians in the 12th century B.C. and construction heavily reinforced by them in the 4th century B.C., although it was later occupied by the Assyrians and Hittites.   It was regained by the Phoenicians and it is easy to see why this place was important to these maritime traders.  Anemurium sits as close to Cyprus as you can get on the coast of Asia Minor.  The name means 'the windy cape.'  The old trading ships coming from or going to Cyprus would have valued the shelter here.  Today yachts are advised not to anchor overnight here because of swell making the anchorage too rolly.  You can anchor here during the day only.  (But then where do you go?  There is nowhere nearby to anchor overnight.  So unless you plan on sailing overnight, don't stop here in a boat.)  

Odeon--all was covered in marble back then
Cistern (complete) at Anemurium

After the Phoenicians Anemurium was occupied by a vicious Cilician tribe in 52 A.D.  Later, this area came under Greek control; then later under Roman control like most of the Mediterranean countries.
Note water circle where water pipe
exited cistern

Entrance to Odeon--seated 900 persons

The ruins consist of a few large buildings like the odeon (theater) which seated 900 persons (men, of course; remember, no women allowed in the theaters), and the 2 baths, the nymphaeum, the aqueduct, and a large building right at the water's edge (which looked like a place that might administrate the harbor shipping activities to us).  

Odeon--mosaic floor stage
Then there were many, many tiny stone houses built up the hillside.  The ruins of these small buildings continued far through the brush and small trees.  And one must assume that outside these stone homes would have been the wooden homes of the poorer people, which obviously have long since rotted away.

There were 2 long sections of the aqueduct visible.  We did not climb up there to investigate closer because there were flying insects and we did not want to walk in the high grasses.

Aqueduct upper right; fortress walls high on hill.
On the very point of the cape stands the remains of a very large fortress or citadel.  The walls are very evident.  This would have been a place of refuge for the town's inhabitants during attacks.
With a crown of flowers someone left

Pointing to fallen column top and base down by sea
Checking out fallen marble from the old buildings

Anemurium reached its heyday in the 1st to 3rd century A.D.  Mosaics dating from this period can be seen in one of the bath houses and the odeon and the basilica.  Mosaics are also visible in the floor of the 'harbor' building by the shore.  The churches dotting the site were built by the Byzantines.  There seems to have been something of an industry here producing mosaics and glassware.  

Marble pieces from buildings fallen down to sea

In 580 A.D. a large earthquake damaged the aqueduct and many buildings.  Toppled marble columns are still seen lying in the sand on the beach.  Amazing that these are still visible and not covered by the sands of time (or rising waters of global warming).  There were many bases and tops for these columns found lying among the tumbled boulders down to the seaside.  Bill managed to work his way down the stones to closely examine a few.  (Thank goodness he did not fall and break a bone doing this because there was no one to help get him back up from there.)  We could see large sections of marble that obviously had decorated the roof line of buildings all those centuries ago.

Marble columns fallen down to the sea
Marble fallen into the sea
This site was amazing.  And we could only imagine what it must have looked like during the Roman times when every surface would have been covered in marble.  We feel fortunate to have been able to visit.

Marble column at Anemurium

This earthquake did not cause the city to be abandoned.  The Arab pirates did that.  Anemurium was periodically utilized to protect the coast, but not fully inhabited as it had been earlier.  Around the 12th century A.D. the nearby Anamur Kalesi (Mamure Castle) was built about we miles eastward on the far side of the bay.  The Anemurium site was effectively abandoned for good, ending 2,000 years of habitation.

And Mamure Castle was our next destination.  This castle is considered very romantic.  It is by far the largest castle found anywhere along the Turkish coastline.  There are crenallated walls surrounding the entire castle.  It has 39 towers.  Part of the original moat is still intact.

Inside western courtyard Mamure Castle
Anamur Kalesi was built by the Kings of Lesser Armenia in the 12th century A.D. on the site of an earlier Roman fortress dating to the 3rd century A.D..  It really is a big place.  

Entrance Mamure Castle

Mamure was taken by Karamanoglu Mehmet Bey and his troops in 1308 A.D. and alterations began., including the addition of a mosque within the castle walls in the eastern courtyard.

Moat still in place.
In 1840 the castle was restored by the Ottomans.  The Ottomans used it right up until the early 20th century.  It is considered one of the best preserved castles on Turkey's Mediterranean coast.

Eastern courtyard inside Mamure Castle
In the eastern courtyard you can also see the remains of the Roman aqueduct that brought water from the mountains 5 kilometers away.  There also are the remnants of a stable that looks like a garage.  The holes or indentions in the walls served as the guards' barracks.  There stands a long row of curved roof shops in this courtyard.

Western courtyard; high part was where castellan lived
To the western side is the Kaleici, or castle interior.  This is where the castellan (castle commander) and other top brass lived.  Visitors are allowed to climb wherever they wish in this castle.  There is even a dungeon.  We did not feel that adventurous.  Besides, we had not brought along a flashlight and it was dark in there.

Bill wasn't interested in climbing around on the slippery worn stone stairs to walk along the tops of the walls.  Since I am not known as Miss Grace, I wasn't interested in climbing up there and more than likely falling.  So we gave that adventure a miss.
Top of large SW tower

SW corner inside Mamure Castle courtyard
There also is a small museum in Anamur that houses lots of artifacts from Anemurium.  These include frescoes from the private houses, bathhouse mosaics reassembled, a clay sarcophagus and all manner of jewelry, oil lamps and early Christian religious objects.  We decided to also give this museum a miss.  We wanted to get back to Alanya in time to visit a Turkcell store and hopefully get our 3G and phone situation resolved.

Castle construction utilized large boulders already in place
Between the castle and the old Anemurium site is an 18 kilometer stretch of beautiful white sand beach.  This area is a major nesting site for loggerhead turtles.  Females come to the beach to lay eggs between May and September.  The eggs incubate 60 days before hatching. The temperature of the sand determines whether the hatchlings will be female or male.  If below 30C then all the young will be male.  If above 30C then all will be female.  If the sand remains a steady 30C then there will be a female/male mix.  We have watched leatherback turtles lay eggs in Grenada, so there is no way we would stay overnight in Anamur in hopes of the chance of seeing loggerheads come ashore to lay eggs.  We headed back to Alanya.

View from Mamure Castle.  Rose garden was beautiful.
After the Turkcell store we found the Metro and Carrefour and stocked up on a few hard-to-find items.  The rental car had to be turned in by 7 p.m.  By 9:30 we were in bed and slept until 8 this morning.  We never sleep that late!  That long drive and walking the sites really wore us out.  I cannot imagine doing this during the summer when it is frequently over 100F in this part of Turkey.  Very early tomorrow morning we will leave Alanya and motor 75 miles across to an anchorage.  Sailing is too much to hope for, I'm sure.  So motoring it will be.  

We are skipping Antalya altogether.  Supposedly there is an old Lycian city nearby Antalya called Arycanda that is interesting.  And also the nearby old massive city of Termessos (where inhabitants were Pisidian, a fierce society prone to battling who fought off Alexander the Great in 333 B.C. and whom the Romans wisely left to be autonomous as an independent ally in 70 B.C.).  And also the nearby Karain cave, the oldest settlement in the entire country of Turkey; thought to have been continuously occupied for 25,000 years.  It is not possible to see everything and we are kind of tired of old ruins at this point.  Need a few days to again reestablish any interest in old archaeological sites.  I think Anemurium was the best anyway.

Alanya Fortress on top
There is also a very large fortress atop a promontory here at Alanya that we had wanted to visit but just don't feel like making the effort today.  In old times this promontory was known as Calonoros or 'the Good Mountain.'  Later it became a pirate stronghold called Coracesium or 'Crow's Nest.'  This place is huge.  Pompey cleaned up the coast in his campaign against piracy and destroyed a combined pirate fleet here in 67 B.C.  Under the Selcuks, under Sultan Alceddin Keykubad I, the Alanya area was taken in 1221 A.D.  Alceddin named the town after himself, Alaiyya.  From that the present-day name of Alanya evolved.  

Fortress at Alanya
The Karamanid Turks took the city in 1300 and the Ottomans in turn took it in 1471.  Under the Selcuk rule, the huge octagonal reddish-colored for called Kizil Kule was built, as well as the naval dockyards at the water's edge to safeguard the town.  Kizil Kule is in remarkably good condition and is supposed to be well worth a visit.  But we just don't feel like walking around another old site today.  The fort is lit at night and overlooks the Alanya Marina on the northwest side and the town of Alanya on the southeast side.  Very pretty viewing from our boat at night.  

Fortress at Alanya.  HUGE complex!
But we are not making the effort to explore it before we leave early tomorrow morning.

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