When we were in Istanbul a couple of years ago, I noticed this old fort or castle or whatever on the other side of the Bosphorus from Sariyer, where Sarah and Ender (daughter and grandson) live. Maybe the biggest thing you can’t get over not just in Istanbul, but in all of Turkey, are the uncatalogued antiquities from cultures running back 5,000 or so years and maybe even twice that.
No one could tell me if this castle was Ottoman or Byzantine. The Turks expressing an opinion naturally said Ottoman, because they kind of think everything is, but truth be told, everyone was kind of meh on this one.
I determined I had to cross the Bosphorus, climb the hill, and see for myself. No one else was much interested, but I stared at this place every time we went down to the quay, adding it to my bucket list. It didn’t happen until a few days ago.
We took a ferry to Anadolu Kavağı, the fishing village on the Asia side. It’s really a cool little place (you can see the mystery castle at the top of the photo and if you click on the photos, they get bigger). It turned out to be, maybe, 67% percent Byzantine, but really, this situs has been occupied by various cultures for thousands of years, even BCE ones. In fact, archaeologists still don’t know them all. The Greeks and Phoenicians were there. “Yoros” is the Turkish name, but it’s also known as the Genoese Castle since the Genovese held it for a time in the mid- Fifteenth Century. Go figure. The Byzantines, which was the Eastern Roman Empire from the 5th eentury A.D. until the Ottoman conquest in 1453, occupied it continuously until the fall of Constantinople.
It’s located at the narrowest stretch of the Bosphorus and overlooks the Black Sea. A similar installation used be across the water, on the European side, so that defenders could stretch a chain across the straits and block invading ships. It’s a fairly steep hike and takes about 30 minutes, but it was kind of worth it after waiting for two years. If you’re lazy, you can take a taxi. It’s in ruins and little restoration work is underway, but the views of the Black Sea are phenomenal. And the castle really is pretty cool.
And so are the views from the ferry. This bridge is under construction, but you can see the Black Sea beyond. If Sarah Palin were on the ferry, she could probably see the Russians scampering around Crimea on the other side. I couldn’t, though.
And Sarah’s village of Sariyer is really charming, too. She lives, maybe, six blocks off the waterfront.
It’s not Constantinople, but it’s pretty cool.