Sunday, January 13, 2013

The Accidental Roman Ruins

Some of your know that my oldest son spent the December 29th through January 6th in Austria with the Club Beyond Youth program. He snowboarded and went sightseeing in Innsbruck, got kicked out of a mall for some harmless male teenage goofiness and generally had an amazing time.  And now he has an Austrian stamp in his passport.          And I wasn't jealous.           At all.    

Okay, maybe that's a complete and utter lie and I desperately wanted to be a teenager again and have that kind of opportunity. But to make ourselves feel a little better, the rest of the family took a few day trips while Brannick was gone.

On New Year's Day we drove a little over an hour away to Black Castle. Somehow we managed to not take any pictures so you'll have to use your imagination for this one. The castle was on a good sized hill which was mounded up for the express purpose of improving the view from the castle for security purposes. It is in line with several other castles, all of which can see a signal from the two adjacent castles.  We started out exploring a hole in the outer wall and following a small trail that lead around the outside of the castle. After a good bit we realized that what we were following was a game trail and not really wide enough for people to pass through the thorn bushes unscathed. But we managed to get all the way around the castle and back up inside it.  The great thing about exploring ruins like this in Turkey is that for the most part, there is no regulation and no provisions for visitor safety. You are there completely at your own risk and avoiding the gaping holes and crumbling walls is your responsibility. That makes things interesting with young children to say the least. Rory and Evan both did great and we clambered on top of walls and down into rooms and all around.

A few days later we set out to see Kiskalesi - the twin castles. One is on land and the other is out in the sea. I really wanted to take a boat out to the castle in the sea.  We were almost there when we saw some amazing ruins on the side of the road. As in Roman ruins. Pretty well preserved ones.
An Amphitheater

A stone sarcophagus with lid. There were dozens of these all along a small dirt road above the amphitheater.
This building, just below the amphitheater, was three different things over the years. First it was some sort of interior courtyard. The remains of a huge tile mosaic were excavated in several different areas.
After that, it was a Roman agora, or shopping center with various shops. Lastly, it was an early Christian church. Carson is standing in one of the two naves above.
And here is Delaney standing in the baptismal font.

There was no fee to see this place but there was a Turkish man with an official looking badge kind of hanging around.  He motioned for us to follow him and took us up above the church site and to the left of the amphitheater.  Then he lead us down a narrow stone staircase.
Me, disappearing into the earth.

The staircase without me obstructing it.

The stairs led quite a ways down into a very large room. It had high arched ceilings and stone walls on all four sides. I have no idea what it was used for and wished that our guide could have told us.
But it was a cool discovery all the same.

On the other side of that arch is another room the same size.  HUGE!
Before we left I had the kids do Roman Statue imitations because, that's just what you do when you have a perfectly good empty Roman plinth in front of you.

We did eventually make it to Kizkalesi but as it is not tourist season, there were no boats to be had. This is as close to the castle as we got. I was a little disappointed but we'll try again.
Why we both look so pained in the picture is beyond me. Its not like the sun was in our eyes or anything.
We'll go again in the summer.  The story of that castle is Grimm fairy tale material. A king was told by a fortune teller that his baby daughter would be killed by a snake bite. So he built this castle out in the sea and raised his daughter there, away from the danger of serpents. But when the daughter was a young woman she reached into a basket of fruit that had been brought over from the mainland, and was bite by a snake hiding inside. She died. The end.  (I'm sure Disney would have found a way to bring her back to life.)   Apparently the same story is told of a castle near Istanbul so it's a great story but not necessarily a true one.

With some daylight left we drove on a bit further to Silifke and checked out the HUGE castle overlooking that town. This proportions of this castle were mind-boggling and I wish we had flashlights and another hour or two to explore it all.
Here is one corner of the outside wall. The metal sign is the Turkish flag, of course. I think they must have had this for New Years, which is a big holiday over here.
One corner of the castle. Large rooms through each of those doorways.
Watching the city light up underneath us was very pretty.
So maybe it wasn't quite on the level with a week in the Austrian Alps, but it was a great little trip with my cute little family.

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