Birecik Castle

Birecik Castle

Birecik Castle, locally known as Birecik Kalesi, lies on a ridge in the center of the city of the same name, in the province of Şanlıurfa in Turkey. It was sometimes also referred to as Beyaz Kale (White Castle) because of the color of the ridge.

The castle was built on an elongated, limestone ridge alongside the left bank of the Euphrates river. Originally the entire top of the ridge would have been built up and fortified, this would have constituted the inner castle. There also was an outer castle which was situated beneath the inner castle, between the ridge and the river bank.

Apparently the outer castle was constructed by the Seleucid Empire between 298 and 236 BC. This was then first repaired by the Romans, sometime between 30 BC and 395 AD, then by the Frankish Crusaders, sometime between 1098 and 1150, and lastly by the Mamluks, sometime between 1277 and 1484. The inner castle upon the ridge is thought to have been built during the 13th century, although one source stated the entire fortress was built by the Muslim rulers of Aleppo, between 1128 and 1260.

Birecik became part of the Ottoman Empire in 1517. The castle probably had no strategical value for them and probably fell to ruin since then.

Up until the early 19th century much more of the castle remained than today. It was, and sometimes still is, described as having 4 gates and walls with 12 towers of up to 30 to 40 m high. Sadly, this has almost all disappeared. One remaining corner tower, called Alaburç, was consolidated early this century and is now the main landmark of the castle. I think the rest of the castle ruin was lost because of landslides, due to erosion of the limestone ridge or earthquakes and deliberate demolition.

Up until recently the inner castle upon the ridge could be accessed via a walkway on the west side of the ridge. A recent landslide destroyed this, making the castle inaccessible. I did read about plans to construct a cable car to access the castle.

Birecik Castle is a very nicely situated castle. Too bad that much of it has gone and that what remains can not be accessed. There are some remains of the city walls nearby, with 2 gates and a tower.


Gallery

Birecik Castle

Birecik Castle

Birecik Castle, locally known as Birecik Kalesi, lies on a ridge in the center of the city of the same name, in the province of Şanlıurfa in Turkey. It was sometimes also referred to as Beyaz Kale (White Castle) because of the color of the ridge.

The castle was built on an elongated, limestone ridge alongside the left bank of the Euphrates river. Originally the entire top of the ridge would have been built up and fortified, this would have constituted the inner castle. There also was an outer castle which was situated beneath the inner castle, between the ridge and the river bank.

Apparently the outer castle was constructed by the Seleucid Empire between 298 and 236 BC. This was then first repaired by the Romans, sometime between 30 BC and 395 AD, then by the Frankish Crusaders, sometime between 1098 and 1150, and lastly by the Mamluks, sometime between 1277 and 1484. The inner castle upon the ridge is thought to have been built during the 13th century, although one source stated the entire fortress was built by the Muslim rulers of Aleppo, between 1128 and 1260.

Birecik became part of the Ottoman Empire in 1517. The castle probably had no strategical value for them and probably fell to ruin since then.

Up until the early 19th century much more of the castle remained than today. It was, and sometimes still is, described as having 4 gates and walls with 12 towers of up to 30 to 40 m high. Sadly, this has almost all disappeared. One remaining corner tower, called Alaburç, was consolidated early this century and is now the main landmark of the castle. I think the rest of the castle ruin was lost because of landslides, due to erosion of the limestone ridge or earthquakes and deliberate demolition.

Up until recently the inner castle upon the ridge could be accessed via a walkway on the west side of the ridge. A recent landslide destroyed this, making the castle inaccessible. I did read about plans to construct a cable car to access the castle.

Birecik Castle is a very nicely situated castle. Too bad that much of it has gone and that what remains can not be accessed. There are some remains of the city walls nearby, with 2 gates and a tower.


Gallery