The "Maiden's Castle" at Kizkalesi: Picturesque with a legend to match
There is something both magnificent and melancholic about Christian fortifications in the Levant. And in that combination lies their charm.
Magnificence is in the size of the castles and walled cities and in the intricacy of their defences, strengths that made up for their remote position in hostile territory and the smallness of their garrisons.
Melancholy stems from their abandonment to the forces of Islam in a protracted retreat which began with Saladin's victory at Hattin in 1187. It would not be until the second half of the 16th century, at the Great Siege of Malta and the Battle of Lepanto, that the tide would begin to be stemmed.
In a previous issue of Standpoint ("Castles of the Imagination", October 2009), I wrote about the "frontline" of the Crusading effort in Syria — the great Hospitaller fortresses of Krak des Chevaliers and Marqab, the Templar strongholds of Safita and Tartus and the castle of Sahyun, with its 90ft-deep rock-cut ditch. The present journey, inspired by A. F. Kersting's photographs in Castles of the Crusaders (Thames and Hudson, 1966), is through secondary lines of defence, from the walled city of Famagusta in eastern Cyprus to the Greek island of Rhodes.
The Lusignan kings of Cyprus lost control of Famagusta to the Genoese in 1373 and in 1489 it passed into Venetian hands. They initiated the second big wave of military building — a new outer wall surrounded by a wide ditch and punctuated with mighty bastions, a system of defence against cannon developed in Western Europe.
The strongpoints of the old town are the Rivettina Bastion in the south-west (a complex of galleries protected by a double moat), the arrowhead Martinengo Bastion in the north-west and the remodelled citadel overlooking the harbour.
- ONLINE ONLY: Overpopulation and the Reality of Grandchildren
- ONLINE ONLY: Sharia Threatens All Women, Muslim and Non-Muslim
- ONLINE ONLY: The Last Days of the Divvy
- A Party Overrun by Lads and Libertines
- The Myth of Cameron's Etonian 'Chumocracy'
- Here Lie the Remains of Tory Modernisation
- Forget 'Islamophobia'. Let's Tackle Islamism
- Neoconservatism: A Good Idea That Won't Go Away
- Have You Heard the One About Auschwitz?
- Cameron's Too Late To Tame the UKIP Tiger
- ONLINE ONLY: Thoughts from a Hospital Bed
- ONLINE ONLY: Academic Boycotts Teach Us Nothing
- ONLINE ONLY: Send in the Clowns
- ONLINE ONLY: Thatcher, Reagan and the Dictators
- The Resolute Courage of Margaret Thatcher
- America's New Isolationists Are Endangering the West
- An Alternative To Our Reckless Energy Gamble
- The Family is the Key to the Future of Faith
- Persecuted Muslims Who Love Life in England
- They Were the Future of the Tory Party, Once