Sardes Castle, locally known as Sardes Kalesi, lies on a mountain south of the town of Sart, in the province of Manisa in Turkey.
The first fortifications on this site were used as the acropolis of the ancient Lydian city of Sardis, remains of which are situated on the plain below the castle. The present castle remains date back to Byzantine times, in the mid-7th century. By a treaty Sardes Castle was handed over by the weakened Byzantines to Ghazi emirs in 1306. It remained occupied up until the early 15th century. So it was probably abandoned after the city of Sardis was taken and destroyed by the Mongol warlord Timur in 1402.
Sardes Castle was built by the Byzantines using building materials, probably quarried from the ruins of the city below. The walls of the castle are scattered with columns, capital, plinths and other dressed stones. The walls follow the outline of the top of the mountain. This mountain however is very susceptible to erosion, which results in the present state of some of the walls which are like hanging over the edge.
The upper part of the castle is the most eroded. There I found a cave-like structure in the northside of the mountain. Inside I saw remnants of colored plaster on the walls. On the southside is now a big opening. I think this opening came to be this big very recently due to the erosion because only a smaller opening is visible on satellite imagery from 2010.
The remains of Sardes Castle are perched high atop a steep mountain. Getting there will first take a walk over a dirt track and then finding your own way up to the gate through the trees and undergrowth. Starting from the village of Çaltılı, as I did, this will take about an hour. Getting to the upper part of the castle you don't need to have a fear of heights.
This is a great castle ruin. The walk up is nice, the details in the overhanging walls are fantastic and the views over the surrounding countryside from atop is very rewarding. When you visit it on your own, as I did, it really feels like a discovery. Recommended!