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Yoros Fortress

Anadolu Kavağı Mh., Istanbul

Take the boat to the village of Anadolukavağı and start walking. It should take around 30 minutes. Those with weary feet should take a taxi up.

Surrounded in spring by a carpet of narcissi, this fortress stands inside a frilly skirt of tea gardens and restaurants, but is unadorned and monumental. It is often known as the Genoese Castle, but was actually built by the Byzantines in layers of brick and stone; the Genoese repaired and extended it when they took it over in 1414.

The fortress had already been fortified under the Palaiologos dynasty. Interesting details include the Byzantine roundels halfway up the towers of the large gate. These may come from an old monastery next to the forest, buried now under razor wire marking the military zone.

Until last summer, there was a gorgeous view out to the Black Sea, across which the Genoese once had a profitable business shipping Eurasian slaves down from the Crimea into the Mediterranean – when Renaissance princes stopped buying them, the Egyptians took over and used them to build the Mamluk empire. Now, the view from Yoros is marred by the narcissistic new motorway bridge.

After exploring the fortress, have lunch at one of the village’s many fish restaurants.

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Issue 66, December 2023 Turkey’s Centenary Issue
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