Alanya is a medium-sized tourist town situated between the Taurus Mountains to the north and and Mediterranean Sea to the south. Its crescent-shaped harbor is enclosed on the west by Alanya peninsula, a 300-meter-high hill crowned with a 12th-century medieval Byzantine castle and castle wall, which used to protect the ancient city from pirates and other aggressors. You can see it in the above photo, as well as the Kızılkule fortress at the bottom of the hill.
Of course, for a defensive wall to be complete you need to man it with soldiers, so here we find built-in barracks.
The lives of the military who lived here men included battles and celebrations, highs and lows, but life was mostly–as everywhere in the world–boring. We 21st-century observers might wonder how these soldiers passed their uneventful days and what captured their imaginations. Well, on a wall opposite the barracks, we find these etchings carved into the stone. Can you tell what they depict?
They are sailboats! Because the most striking and common (maybe even beautiful) sight in a soldier’s workaday life was to see a sailboat in full rig promenading out of the sea and into the harbor. There are hundreds of these ship graffiti in the castle, attesting to men’s centuries-old fascination with sailboats and sailing technology, as well as their boredom and the human compulsion to pass the time with doodling and desecrating public space.
Another story after the cut.
It is an unbroken (two-decade-long) tradition in our study abroad program for every student to descend from the top of Alanya peninsula all the way down to the coast by treading the precipitous, narrow, craggy ramparts of the castle wall.
The exercise was simultaneously thrilling–a single misplaced step could send you tumbling off to your doom in the bouldery scrub ten feet down–and absolutely gorgeous–as KC said, the view between each crenellation seemed to be more pristine than the last.