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Kizkalesi Beach

Kızkalesi (Silifke)

Kızkalesi (Silifke); Known only to Turks and savvy foreigners, this beach 25 km (16 miles) east of Silifke is sort of small but the castle out at sea makes up for it.

Kızkalesi is a town in Mersin province, popular with Turkish tourists. A great refuge away from the droves of Western tourists in Lycia and Pamphylia, Kızkalesi can be an excellent place to experience real Turkey and interact with local travelers on their own holidays. Two large castles, one offshore of the main beach, are the main attractions here, with plenty of opportunity to explore in the surrounding towns and countryside.

At about 60 kilometres from Mersin, on the road to Silifke lies the ancient city of Korykos, which today has developed into the charming little holiday resort of Kizkalesi or Maiden’s Castle. The striking massive Maiden’s Castle, lying just 200 m offshore, seems to float on the blue waves of the Mediterranean giving the place something magic. Kizkalesi offers one of the finest sandy beaches along this stretch of the Turkish coast.

Historically, Kizkalesi was founded by settlers from the Aegean in the 4th century BCE. The name Korykos was first mentioned in 197 BCE when the Cilician coast was recaptured from the Egyptians by Antiochus III the king of Syria. After the Romans conquered Cilicia in 67 BCE it became a Roman province. In 67 CE the Roman Emperor Pompeius rescued the settlement from the ever attacking pirates. The settlement got the name Korykos (Corycus) and became part of the Roman Empire. During this period it grew into a prosperous harbour city.

During the Byzantine era, the city’s defences were strengthened with two castles. In the 13th century CE, when Korykos was part of the Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia, the two castles were extensively rebuilt. Unfortunately, in building and rebuilding the castles the builders pillaged the ruins of ancient Korykos. In 1482 Korykos became part of the Ottoman Empire. During this period the site became abandoned, until just some eighty years ago, when people began to settle, here again, calling it Kız Kalesi meaning Maiden’s Castle after the name of the sea castle.

Kızkalesi or Maiden’s Castle got its name from the following legend: Once upon a time, there was a king who had only one child, a daughter, whom he loved tenderly. When he learned that his daughter would die from a snakebite, the king built a palace in the sea where the princess would be in safety far away from snakes. However, a viper had hidden in a basket of fruit that was sent to her by her father. The snake bit her in the finger, bringing death to the princess.