Yoros Castle (Genoese Castle)

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The Yoros Castle (Turkish: Yoros kalesi) is a Byzantine ruined castle at the confluence of the Bosphorus and the Black Sea, to the north of Joshua's Hill, in Istanbul, Turkey. It is also commonly referred to as the Genoese Castle, due to Genoa’s possession of it in the mid-15th century.

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Overview

Strategically set near the confluence of the Bosphorus and the Black Sea, the future site of Yoros Castle was settled by the Phoenicians and Greeks prior to the Byzantine period for trading and military purposes. The Greeks called the area Hieron (Sacred Place). The remains of temples, including Dios, Altar of the Twelve Gods, and Zeus Ourios (Zeus, granter of fair winds) were discovered in the area, dating to centuries BCE. The ruins of the citadel and surrounding walls still exist, though the mosque, most of the towers, and other structures are gone. Yoros Castle and the village of Anadolu Kavağı are a popular day trip from Istanbul. Normally, the site is not supervised and visitors are free to climb all over the ancient walls. However, as of 2018, archaeological excavations are going on and visitors are unable to enter the castle.

Greek inscriptions remain etched on the walls of the castle to this day, along with the symbol of the Palealogus family, who ruled Byzantium until its fall. The military importance of the site cannot be overstated. In fact, much of the area surrounding Yoros Castle is today in the hands of the Turkish military, who have closed off areas to visitors.

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History
Yoros Castle was intermittently occupied throughout the course of the Byzantine Empire. Under the Palaiologos dynasty during the decline of the empire, Yoros Castle was well fortified, as was the Rumeli Kavağı on the opposite side of the Bosphorus. A massive chain could be extended across the Bosphorus between these two points, cutting off the straits to attacking warships, similar to the chain across the Golden Horn which was used to defend Constantinople during the last Ottoman siege by Sultan Mehmed II.

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