Alarakale in Pamphylia





The pointed cone with the castle complex  

Alarakale is a castle about 37 kilometres west of Alanya. The complex was built in Byzantine times to ensure the safety of the passing caravans.


The Alara Çayı, in the background the castle  

The castle high above the river Alara was almost impregnable on the pointed cone. Nevertheless, it fell into Seljuks hands in 1232, when the lord of the castle gave up after he learned that the city of Alanya had fallen into the hands of the Seljuk sultan Kai Kobad I.


Alarakale Castle  

The ascent to the castle is more than difficult and only to be recommended to well-trained people. A narrow path leads up the mountain cone to an approx. 100 meter long, dark stair tunnel. Without the light of a flashlight or headlamp, the ascent through the tunnel is life-threatening!

Alarakale Castle  

The lower mounting  

After passing the tunnel, you are in the middle part of the castle. The further uphill is a single ordeal.




Climb to the castle





Half height




Here is an excerpt from the travelogue of Mr. Manfred Hiebl, from whom some photos were taken. Here the whole report in German: (Durchs rauhe Kilikien)

...... At a bend in the road we see the Byzantine fortress for the first time, initially still tiny, enthroned on an extremely steep rock, like an eagle's nest, although we would have seen it long ago if we had looked specifically for it. It has clouded over, but despite the colourless atmosphere, the landscape reminiscent of an Alpine region is something very special, something surrounded by a strange magic. I dare not believe my eyes whether what I see there, and I must confess that I have never and nowhere in the whole world ever seen such a castle sitting so high up on a rock as these and whose walls extend from the very bottom over hundreds of meters to the top.
It seems like something legendary, hardly believable, different and completely foreign, like an imaginary structure of a royal castle towering high up to the sky, but still nothing but reality. It's like experiencing a second Machu Picchu, but in a completely different part of the world. In order to clear up dreams, deeds must follow, accomplished facts must be created.

Inwardly I have already made the decision to climb up there, but I am still in doubt whether I should take the risk in view of the late hour and the constantly smouldering danger of a downpour. A Turkish woman's voice tears me out of my thoughts, and she must have read my thoughts as she waves me to her. She's waving a flashlight that I'm gonna need, like she says. Then she explains to me with a few awkward pieces of German what I would have to consider. I should take water with me; I would come into a tunnel, I take from their explanations, which can only be traversed with artificial light. With her hands she describes the path I have to take to reach my goal. The ascent would take two hours, she says, but we don't have that time at all, because it is already late afternoon. Despite the sceptical looks of some villagers, I start the company, as it should turn out by itself when a turnaround is inevitable. Fired with my best wishes, I'm leaving.

In fact, the entrance at the foot of the mountain is reached soon, but then turns around turns, serpentines around serpentines begin, and before I know it, the Alara - river is already tower-high below me. Now, for my happiness, or should I say misfortune, the skies tear open and the sun begins to sting, the sweat dripping from my brow. It's a good thing I listened to the advice of the ancients. Step by step the cool water flows down my throat, but I am far from up there. Ever more beautiful deep views open up, but I will have the best view from the very top. Suddenly it's time for me to stand at the bottom of the tunnel, which, barely high enough for a man to walk upright in it, looks at me like a black hole. And that's where I'm going!

The torch isn't glowing, it's loose. No chance of getting through! After I've shaken them hard, finally light! I must dare. In fact, I would have broken my neck if I hadn't had a lamp on me. After a hundred meters through the labyrinth it gets light again and I stand outside in the glistening sunlight. Now the river glistens in silver, which, when I look down vertically, is only a torrent. Right, there against the sea several rivers must unite. Now the path begins to become more exposed, hands and feet must be used. But how can you do that if you hold the water bottle in one hand and the flashlight in the other? But necessity is the mother of invention! I tie the torch to the camera strap, so I have at least one hand free for climbing. To avoid hurting the religious feelings of my hosts, I naturally wear long pants, but now I curse about it. The trouser legs stick together with the sweat of the skin, which now flows in streams, and restrict the crotch. But what just came to my disadvantage, I am soon glad about it again, because of the many thorns. This scrub has now scratched my hand, wherever I reach, it stings. My forehead looks like I've been wearing a crown of thorns, blood is leaking everywhere.
But what could dissuade a person from his plan if he has really set himself the goal? but probably only fear, lack of ambition! Higher and higher I climb using my hands and feet, so that I have to ask myself how armed soldiers with lance, shield and sword, with chain mail, helmet and bow may have done it to come up here. Again and again I have to crawl through half-decayed towers, pull myself up against walls until I reach the top. From the highest platform there is now a dizzying view down to the whitewater river, which has inexorably dug its bed in numerous bends, not hindered by high steep walls. "How wondrous are the works of the Lord!" would have been said in the language of the Crusaders. If the weather had been nice from the beginning, I might have done without the ascent and would have been content with a successful photo. But because the sun didn't shine when the decision was due, I didn't make anything better for the situation, and when I got back down again I was rewarded twice, because the light conditions couldn't be better now, especially since the already flat sun covers the whole mountain with gold. Despite aching legs - because the descent is, as we know, more difficult than the ascent - I am glad when I sit afterwards with the innkeepers - kindhearted people - and enjoy a delicious sip of ice-cold drink.






The castle and the Alara Han caravansary can be reached, like all ancient cities on the Turkish Riviera, via the D400 coastal road, approx. 35 km behind Manavgat, in the direction of Alanya, a signposted road leads 9 km inland between the towns of Okurcalar and Yesiköy on the left. Already from a distance you can see the pointed cone of the castle mountain of the Alara Kale.

Photos: @chim and Manfred Hiebl    
Translation aid:    
Source: Wikipedia and others