At about 60 kilometers from Mersin, on the road to Silifke lies the charming little holiday resort of Kızkalesi or Maiden's Castle. The striking massive Maiden's Castle, lying just 200 m offshore, seems to float on the blue waves of the Mediterranean giving the place something magic. Kızkalesi offers one of the finest sandy beaches along this stretch of the Turkish coast.
Historically, Kizkalesi was founded by settlers from the Aegean in the 4th century BC. The name Korykos was first mentioned in 197 BC when the Cilician coast was recaptured from the Egyptians by Antiochus III the king of Syria. After the Romans conquered Cilicia in 67 BC it became a Roman province. In 67 AD the Roman Emperor Pompeius rescued the settlement from the ever attacking pirates. The settlement got the name Korykos (Corycus) and became part of the Roman Empire. During this period it grew into a prosperous harbor city. During the Byzantine era, the city's defenses were strengthened with two castles. In the 13th century AD when Korykos was part of the Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia the two castles were extensively rebuilt. Unfortunately, in building and rebuilding the castles the builders pillaged the ruins of ancient Corycos. In 1482 Korykos became part of the Ottoman Empire. During this period the site became abandoned, until just some eighty years ago, when people began to settle, here again, calling it Kız Kalesi meaning Maiden's Castle after the name of the sea castle.
Kızkalesi or Maiden's Castle got its name from the following legend: Once upon a time, there was a king who had only one child, a daughter, whom he loved tenderly. When he learned that his daughter would die from a snakebite, the king built a palace in the sea where the princess would be in safety far away from snakes. However, a viper had hidden in a basket of fruit that was sent to her by her father. The snake bit her in the finger, bringing death to the princess.
Facing Maiden's Castle on the shore are the ruins of Korykos Castle which was linked in ancient times to the sea castle by a causeway. The castles were a link in the chain of coastal fortifications established by the Byzantine admiral Eugenius in 1104 to defend and protect the borders of Byzantium. Next to Korykos Castle, across the road, lies the ancient necropolis of Korykos.
We visited Kizkalesi during our 2004 and 2013 tours of Turkey's Mediterranean coast and, on both occasions, we had an excellent stay in the friendly and very clean Hotel Hantur (Tel. +90 (0) 324/ 523 2367), located right on the beach (private beach). The owner also arranged transportation at a reasonable price to Uzuncaburç, Silifke, Cennet-Cehennem (Heaven and Hell), and Kanlıdivane. June is a nice month to stay in Kizkalesi. Afterward, it quickly fills up with people from Adana having their summer vacation here. It seems that the autumn season is also nice.