Mamure Castle is one of the largest and most impressive castles in Turkey, and one of the best seaside fortifications between Rhodes and Akko. Located along the southern coast of Turkey, this region has been among the most heavily trafficked land and water trade routes since the dawn of history. A major fortress has stood on the site for at least seventeen centuries, and perhaps longer. Thanks to the efforts of the Ottomans, and many years without warfare in the region, Mamure Castle is one of the best preserved citadels in Anatolia.
In a region famous for its coastal fortresses, Mamure Castle is the oldest and most historic. Anamur, the southernmost point of Anatolia, has been settled since ancient times. The Phoenicians built one of their earliest ports here in the 12th century BC. Located at one of the most strategic points along the coastal trade routes in the Eastern Mediterranean, Anamur became a major prize, and changed hands at least half a dozen times before being absorbed into the Roman Empire.
The first known major fortress in Anamur was constructed by the Romans around 300 AD. Its primary purpose was to defend the crucial port from seaborne maurauders who were actively ravaging the eastern shipping lanes at the time. It was maintained by the Byzantine Empire well into the Middle Ages, and for long held out against the encroachments of the various Muslim empires in the east. The fortress was also an important base for the Crusaders in the 12th century.
In 1221 Anamur was finally overrun by the Seljuk Turks. The nearly millennium-old fortress was largely demolished, and on its site was constructed an immense new citadel. Throughout the 14th and 15th centuries Anamur and its castle was one of the most important cities of the Karamanid Emirate, a successor state to the Seljuks. It was around this time that the fortress was renamed Mamure Castle, possibly in honor of one of the early Emirs.
For long a holdout against the expanding Ottoman Empire, Anamur was finally absorbed into the Sultanate in 1475. Mamure Castle was regularly maintained to protect the coast from the age-old threat of pirates as well as from rival trading powers in Italy. However, after the Ottoman conquest Anamur was never directly threatened again. Because of this, and because of its regular maintanence, Mamure Castle is one of the best preserved seaside fortifications in the Eastern Mediterranean.
Mamure Castle is a sprawling structure, with a main keep built on a rocky outcropping surrounded by massive concentric walls. On the seaward side, the outer walls and round towers are almost completely intact, spreading out along a half-mile stretch of coastline. Only a narrow stretch of very rocky beach, just wide enough for an adventurous stroll, separates the walls from the beach. On the landward side, the walls are in less good shape, with occasional gaps large enough to allow access into the site.
The inner keep was built for business. Because the area immediately around the castle is relatively flat, the builders took advantage of every scrap of high ground they could find. As a result part of the castle looks as though it grew right out of the rocks below. The compact but tall keep, as well as the outer walls, boasts a strange alternating mix of square and round towers that is very rare in military architecture.
Mamure Castle is located at the very southernmost point of Turkey just south of the town of Anamur, approximately 275 miles due south of the capital of Ankara. As of this writing no visitor information for the castle was available. Web: www.goturkey.com (official website).
The coast of southern Turkey is dotted with many great castles that were built to protect both land and sea routes between the Adriatic and Eastern Mediterranean. Collectively these are some of the best fortifications in Turkey. Not too far to the west of Anamur is Alanya Castle, and not too far to the east are Silifke Castle and Yilankale Castle.