Yoros Castle (Yoros Kalesi)
Yoros Castle (Turkish: Yoros kalesi) is a ruined castle at the confluence of the Bosporus 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.
Yoros Castle sits on a hill surrounded by steep bluffs overlooking the Bosporus. It is just north of a small fishing village called Anadolu Kavağı, on Macar Bay, and the entire area is referred to as Anadolu Kavağı. This section is one of the narrowest stretches of the Bosporus, and on the opposite shore sits an area called Rumeli Kavağı, which formerly held a fortification similar to Yoros Castle. (Anadolu and Rumeli were Ottoman terms for the Anatolian and European parts of the empire).
Strategically set near the confluence of the Bosporus and the Black Sea, the future site of Yoros Castle was settled by Greeks and Phoenicians 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 B.C.E.
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 Rumeli Kavağı on the opposite side of the Bosporus. A massive chain could be extended across the Bosporus 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.
Byzantines, Genoese, and Ottomans fought over this strategic fortification for years. It was first conquered by Ottoman forces in 1305, but retaken by the Byzantines shortly thereafter. Bayezid I took the castle again in 1391 while preparing for his siege of Constantinople. It was used as his field headquarters during the construction of Anadoluhisarı, one of the more important castles for the siege. In 1399 the Byzantines attempted to take back Yoros Castle. The attack failed, but the village of Anadolu Kavağı was burned to the ground. The Ottomans held the fortress from 1391-1414, losing it to the Genoese in 1414. The forty-year Genoese occupation lent the castle its moniker of Genoese castle.
Upon Fatih Sultan Mehmed’s conquest of Constantinople in 1453, the presence of the Genoese at such a strategic location posed a threat to the new Ottoman capital. Within a few years, Sultan Mehmed drove the Genoese out. He then fortified the walls, and constructed a customs office, quarantine, and check point, as well as placing a garrison of troops there. Bayezid II (1481-1512) later added a mosque within the castle walls.
Cossack raids had plagued the Ottoman Empire throughout its long history. In 1624 a fleet of 150 Cossack caiques sailed across the Black Sea to attack towns and villages near Istanbul. They struck villages inside the Bosphorus, and Murad IV (1623-1640) refortified Anadolu Kavağı to defend against the fleet. It would prove instrumental in the region from seaborne Cossack raids.
Under Osman III (1754-1757), Yoros Castle was once again refortified. Later, in 1783 Abdülhamid I added more watchtowers. After this period, it gradually fell into disrepair. By the time of the Turkish Republic, the castle was no longer used.
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 Kavagi are a popular day trip from Istanbul. The site is not supervised and visitors are free to climb all over the ancient walls. 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 understated. 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.
Anadolu Kavağı village
The villagers of Anadolu Kavağı historically depended mostly on fishing for income, but it appears some may have acted as ‘wreckers’. Turkish rumors report that they would light fires in order to disorient ships and ground them in the narrow straits, seizing their goods. Conversely, many claim that Anadolu Kavağı was also used as a shelter for trade ships against storms, where it is recorded even up to three hundred ships were serviced at a time.
The Bosporus or Bosphorus (Greek: Βόσπορος), also known as the Istanbul Strait (Turkish: İstanbul Boğazı), is a strait that forms the boundary between the European part (Thrace) of Turkey and its Asian part (Anatolia). It is one of the Turkish Straits, along with the Dardanelles. The world’s narrowest strait used for international navigation, it connects the Black Sea with the Sea of Marmara (which is connected by the Dardanelles to the Aegean Sea, and thereby to the Mediterranean Sea). It is approximately 30 km (19 mi) long, with a maximum width of 3,700 m (12,139 ft) at the northern entrance, and a minimum width of 700 m (2,297 ft) between Kandilli and Aşiyan; and 750 m (2,461 ft) between Anadoluhisarı and Rumelihisarı. The depth varies from 36 to 124 m (118 to 407 ft) in midstream. The shores of the strait are heavily populated as the city of Istanbul (with a metropolitan area in excess of 11 million inhabitants) straddles it.
Two bridges cross the Bosporus. The first, the Bosphorus Bridge, is 1,074 m (3,524 ft) long and was completed in 1973. The second, Fatih Sultan Mehmet (Bosphorus II) Bridge, is 1,090 m (3,576 ft) long, and was completed in 1988 about 5 km (3 mi) north of the first bridge. Plans for a third road bridge, which will allow transit traffic to by-pass the city traffic, have been approved by the Ministry of Transportation. The bridge will be part of the “Northern Marmara Motorway”, which will be further integrated with the existing Black Sea Coastal Highway. The location will be somewhere north of the existing two bridges, but the exact path is kept secret to avoid an early boom in land prices.
Another crossing, Marmaray, is a 13.7 km (8.5 mi) long undersea railway tunnel currently under construction and is expected to be completed in 2012. Approximately 1,400 m (4,593 ft) of the tunnel will run under the strait, at a depth of about 55 m (180 ft).
Istanbul (Turkish: İstanbul; historically Byzantium and later Constantinople; see the other names of Istanbul) is the largest city in Turkey, largest city proper and second largest metropolitan area in Europe, and fourth largest city proper in the world with a population of 12.6 million. Istanbul is also a megacity. Istanbul is the cultural and financial center of Turkey. The city covers 27 districts of the Istanbul province. It is located on the Bosphorus Strait and encompasses the natural harbor known as the Golden Horn, in the northwest of the country. It extends both on the Europe (Thrace) and on the Asia (Anatolia) side of the Bosphorus, and is thereby the only metropolis in the world that is situated on two continents. In its long history, İstanbul served as the capital city of the Roman Empire (330–395), the East Roman (Byzantine) Empire (395–1204 and 1261–1453), the Latin Empire (1204–1261), and the Ottoman Empire (1453–1922). The city was chosen as joint European Capital of Culture for 2010. The historic areas of Istanbul were added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1985