Dedicated to the military history and civilization of the Eastern Roman Empire (330 to 1453)

"Time in its irresistible and ceaseless flow carries along on its flood all created things and drowns them in the depths of obscurity."

- - - - Princess Anna Comnena (1083–1153) - Byzantine historian

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Mamure Castle - Defending the Coast of Anatolia

Mamure Castle is over 1500 years old and ranks among the best-preserved Medieval Castles on the Mediterranean coast. It is an authentic medieval fortification with styles from different conquering armies; the Romans, Byzantines, Seljuks, Karamanids and Ottomans.

The castle has perfect location for defense as it is dominating visually the surrounding landscape and the sea.

The original castle was built by the Roman Empire in the third or fourth centuries for the defense of the coastline from pirates.  The Eastern Empire repaired and continued to use the castle up through the era of the Crusades.  The castle would have been used by the Roman military for about 800 years.

During the extensive Byzantine period major wars would have taken place all around the castle.  Over the centuries there would have been land invasions by the Persian Empire, Crusaders as well as multiple land and sea attacks by Arab forces. 

But there is no record of any major military actions against the fort or to what degree the Romans stationed troops at the site.

The current castle was built by the rulers of the Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia on the foundations of the Roman-Byzantine original structure.  There is no way to tell what the original Roman fort looked like, but it may have looked much like it does now.

 When Alaattin Keykubat I of Seljuk Turks captured the ruins of the castle in 1221, he built a larger castle using elements of the earlier fortifications. Later, it was controlled by the Karamanid dynasty (who ruled a Turkish state in Anatolia).

Although the exact date is uncertain, according to an inscription by İbrahim II of Karaman in 1450, the castle was captured during Mahmut's reign (1300–1311). The castle was renamed as Mamure (prosperous) after repairs by Mahmut. In 1469, the castle was annexed by the Ottoman Empire.

It was subsequently repaired in the 15th, 16th and 18th centuries and a part of the castle was used as a caravanserai.

The Castle

The castle, covering an area of 23.500 m2, is one of the biggest and well-protected castles of Anatolia.

Although the exact construction date of the castle is uncertain, it is believed to have been built by the Romans either in the 3rd or the 4th century, due to the excavations conducted in 1988 by the Directorate of Anamur Museum.

These excavations revealed archaeological remains that have mosaic floor covering which belong to a Late Roman city (3rd-4th c. A.D.) called “Ryg Monai”, a city not prominent in that period. On the other hand, it is also known as the outer protective castle of Anemurium City.  The ancient city itself was abandoned around 650 when Arab attacks made the coast unsafe.

The castle is surrounded by a moat on the land side. The road on the rampart connects the 39 towers (4 of them are bigger than the others) and a lot of battlements to each other. There are 3 main yards within the castle; west, east and the south, which are separated from each other by high walls. In the yard at the west there is an outer castle, a small complex of a single minaret mosque, the ruins of a hamam (Turkish bath), a fountain, warehouses and cisterns.

In the east, there is an inner courtyard which has 7 bastions in different shapes on the high wall constituting its northwest border. The bastions on the north-eastern part of it have been ruined together with the wall. In the yard at the south; there is an inner citadel built over the rocks, the main watch tower which has the best view with 22 meters height inside the biggest bastion, 5 more watch towers and ruins of a light house.

The single minaret mosque which represents the characteristics of the 16th century Ottoman architecture was built by the Karamanids. The historic mosque is still functioning and has been renovated. The hamam which is located on the north of the Castle is also believed to have been built by the Karamanids. The entrance part of the hamam has been demolished but other parts are still intact.

Castle wall and moat.

(whc.unesco.org)      (www.castles.nl)      (Mamure Castle)

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