To cross from Kyrenia to the Anatolian coast is to enter lands once controlled by the medieval Kingdom of Lesser Armenia, which, after the fall of the Frankish states, was the only Christian power left on the Levantine mainland.
At Kizkalesi (Greek Korykos) there are both land and sea castles. The second, some 300 yards offshore, is the more picturesque and has a legend to match. This is that the king, forewarned that his daughter would die of snakebite, built the castle for her protection. However, when one of his advisers took her a basket of fruit, a snake slid out and killed her.
We went out to the "Maiden's Castle" by pedalo, beaching it beneath the walls and using it later to circumnavigate the rocky shelf on which the fortifications stand. The interior is largely bare — fragments of mosaics, a ruined chapel and a cistern remain — but there is an elegant, Gothic-vaulted gallery on the west side, and the round and rectangular towers on the curtain wall are being refaced. The land castle Korykos Kalesi, by contrast, has been abandoned to the elements, its wildness lending it the enchantment of some of the great Syrian fortresses. In October, yellow swallow-tail butterflies flitted among ruined masonry overgrown with plants burnt gold in the summer heat. Architecturally, the land castle is much more interesting than its prettier marine cousin. It has the remains of a harbour mole, a fosse and two rings of concentric walls. On the west side, the medieval builders have incorporated a Roman gate into the structure. On the east, fluted classical columns have been laid horizontally as reinforcing rods into the walls, and a rock-cut ditch, leading to the sea, protects what was the original entrance.
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