Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Anavarza Castle

Our very first adventure upon arriving in Turkey 2 years ago was a trip to Anavarza Castle.

Now for anyone who may consider venturing out to this beauty... be forewarned, when people say that it is a difficult hike.. they are not lying!! We took things at a decent pace since we were exploring with children along.. and all in all, i'd say this was probably a 4 mile hike start to finish. 

We parked at the base of the hill by a little shack, where a local villager agreed to watch our car while we were off exploring. From there, another villager offered his services as our tour guide. There are two ways up: a steep, barely visible stone staircase OR a steep (but only for a few minutes) hike up a small dirt trail. We chose the later and off we went...

Upon arrival at the top of the hill, we were met with the sight of lots of open & destroyed tombs. Whatever or whoever was in them, is long gone... i peeked. There was a certain elegance to the stones, and I'm sure that in its prime, it was a glorious site.

This picture of the castle is by far one of my favorites! I love it so much that I had it turned into a canvas & it now graces my 'travel wall'. I sometimes don't feel the picture does this place justice. Standing and looking at this castle... I was filled with awe. A sheer drop off a cliff to the left, a seemingly endless field of stones all around & the beautiful Anavarza Castle directly ahead. We were standing in front of a structure that dates back to the Byzantine Empire! and not only were we standing in front of it.. we were getting ready to enter it & be allowed to explore (and touch!!) to our hearts content!!

Our first 'official' family photo in Turkey -- Standing atop the wall of a Byzantine Castle! 

A Christian Church inside the castle walls.

Villagers bring their cows into the castle to graze.

The King's Chambers

Not only was this our first Turkish adventure, but I also managed to check an item off my bucket list (that I wasn't aware was there) & have a 'please don't let me die' moment all at once. Remember that cliff in the first picture?? At this point in our hike, we have made it up into the King's Chambers via a rickety little metal ladder (see above photo, bottom left). What you cant see in the above photo.. is that ladder is right against the cliff's edge! Now I don't mind heights... I do however have a problem with ladders. I really didn't want to have to go back down the ladder, so I asked our guide if there was another way down. He immediately directed me to follow him (as the rest of my group went down the ladder). This is where my sense of adventure was tested. This man had me slide down a flat rock, towards the cliffs edge. Then once we stood on this little ledge (on the edge of a cliff!), I thought 'ok, no big deal.. it must just go around the corner to where i need to be'. What he failed to tell me was that what i perceived to be just turning a corner, was in fact a jumping point. I had enough room to stand with my feet side by side, a rock wall with no holds to my left that turned 90 degrees... and I was expected to jump across from my ledge to the ledge on the other side of this wall...all while trying not to look the thousands of feet down. I'm not going to lie.. I had to take a few moments to gather my courage (& receive a pep talk from my husband). So with no choice but to jump.. I pushed for all I was worth & reached for my husband's outstretched hand. I am pretty sure angels were watching over me, because I still don't quite understand how it felt as effortless as it did. 

Our final view of the castle as we drove away

Of the castles we have explored in our time here, Anavarza is probably my favorite. All of the castles here are, of course, in some state of ruin due to the centuries of exposure to the elements, lack of upkeep, and human/animal visitors. However, the other castles we've visited have parking right next to, or nearby, the structures. I think the hike to this castle will always be a sweet memory for me, not only because it was our first castle, but because we had to hike up to it in order to experience it. The view, the silence, the crumbling walls (& even that scary leap)... it all adds to the charm that is Anavarza Castle.

If you are ever in Turkey & and are up for an adventure.. this is your castle!



  1. Stunning photos! I can't believe you had to leap like an action movie star. You totally need an "I do my own stunts" shirt. How cool you get to experience all these cultures and history!

    1. while i'm not sure i would ever sign up for a repeat performance... it is a pretty cool story to tell. :)