Free enamel pin when you buy any two Atlas Obscura products. Shop now.

Mersin Province, Turkey

Fortress of Kızkalesi

Mediterranean castle on a tiny Turkish island. 

According to legend, the Fortress of Kızkalesi was built by a sultan to protect his daughter, who was supposed to die by snakebite. Tragically, a snake snuck into the castle walls in a fruit basket, and even the massive fortress could not protect her and she died.

Despite failing to protect the princess, the walls served as fortifications for many others over the years, including the Armenian Kings who built the fortifications in the 12th century, along with vicious Mediterranean pirates.

The Fortress of Kızkalesi is so large, and its accompanying island is so small that it appears to float improbably on top of the water. However, this is only a recent development, as the castle was once connected to the land and another castle on the shore by a causeway. When a nearby dam broke and caused flooding, the causeway was submerged, and the fortress was rendered an island fortification.

Although it was used sporadically throughout the late medieval period, the fortress eventually fell into disrepair. Despite its glorious history, the island remains a puzzling and visually-stunning ruin today and is slowly decaying under the forces of weather and time.