Ayas Castle

Ayas Castle

Ayas Castle, locally known as Ayas Kalesi, lies in the village of Yumurtalık, in the province of Adana in Turkey.

When Ayas Castle was built is unknown. The village itself was already known since classical antiquity as the city of Aegea. During Roman times it was an small port, which was mentioned by the Greek scientist Strabo and the Roman historian Tacitus.

It is thought that a castle was built here in the 12th century, maybe on the site of an earlier fortification, when the town was part of the Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia. It served to protect the town's port. Ayas did not take on preeminent importance for the Venetian and Genoese traders until the Crusaders lost control over a number of Levantine ports in the last quarter of the 12th century.

In 1266 and 1275 the Mamluks briefly plundered Ayas. During the 1280's two attacks by Turkmen bandits were repulsed. In or about 1282 a small castle (now locally called Kız Castle) was built on an island in front of the harbor.

In 1305 and again in 1320 Armenian forces dispatched from the north prevented a Mamluk attack on the port. However, in the spring of 1322 a huge force of Egyptians burnt the town and severely damaged Ayas Castle. With the financial assistance of Pope John XXII the land castle at Ayas was rebuilt in the following year. But by 1337 the Mamluks took permanent possession of Ayas. They garrisoned the town and castle but were ill-prepared in the fall of 1367 to repulse an invasion by Peter I of Cyprus, although Peter's forces opted to not attack the castle.

After that Ayas faded into obscurity. Only in the first half of the 16th century it was rebuilt by the Ottoman Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent to serve as a minor base for his fleet. The present remains of the castle; a curved wall buttressed by 4 towers encompassing the tip of a small peninsula, seem to almost completely date back to that 16th century rebuilding campaign. Spolia were used abundantly in its reconstruction.

At present Ayas Castle can freely be visited. There are a mosque and a small hotel within the castle walls. The rest of the interior is empty. A nice castle in a calm fishing village. West of the village is also Süleyman Tower; a watchtower, probably built during the same building campaign in the 16th century.


Gallery

Ayas Castle

Ayas Castle

Ayas Castle, locally known as Ayas Kalesi, lies in the village of Yumurtalık, in the province of Adana in Turkey.

When Ayas Castle was built is unknown. The village itself was already known since classical antiquity as the city of Aegea. During Roman times it was an small port, which was mentioned by the Greek scientist Strabo and the Roman historian Tacitus.

It is thought that a castle was built here in the 12th century, maybe on the site of an earlier fortification, when the town was part of the Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia. It served to protect the town's port. Ayas did not take on preeminent importance for the Venetian and Genoese traders until the Crusaders lost control over a number of Levantine ports in the last quarter of the 12th century.

In 1266 and 1275 the Mamluks briefly plundered Ayas. During the 1280's two attacks by Turkmen bandits were repulsed. In or about 1282 a small castle (now locally called Kız Castle) was built on an island in front of the harbor.

In 1305 and again in 1320 Armenian forces dispatched from the north prevented a Mamluk attack on the port. However, in the spring of 1322 a huge force of Egyptians burnt the town and severely damaged Ayas Castle. With the financial assistance of Pope John XXII the land castle at Ayas was rebuilt in the following year. But by 1337 the Mamluks took permanent possession of Ayas. They garrisoned the town and castle but were ill-prepared in the fall of 1367 to repulse an invasion by Peter I of Cyprus, although Peter's forces opted to not attack the castle.

After that Ayas faded into obscurity. Only in the first half of the 16th century it was rebuilt by the Ottoman Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent to serve as a minor base for his fleet. The present remains of the castle; a curved wall buttressed by 4 towers encompassing the tip of a small peninsula, seem to almost completely date back to that 16th century rebuilding campaign. Spolia were used abundantly in its reconstruction.

At present Ayas Castle can freely be visited. There are a mosque and a small hotel within the castle walls. The rest of the interior is empty. A nice castle in a calm fishing village. West of the village is also Süleyman Tower; a watchtower, probably built during the same building campaign in the 16th century.


Gallery