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Mysterious medieval castle discovered among lava rocks in Turkey

Archaeologists have uncovered the remains of an 11-room castle in the Caldiran district of Van. The fascinating discovery was made among lava rocks on the slopes of Mount Tendurek. The team has documented the site and is working to register it as a historical landmark.

Castle ruins uncovered

The castle, located between the districts of Dogubayazit (Agri) and Caldiran (Van), is accessible again after security measures cleared the region of terrorist threats.

The team of the Anadolu News Agency (AA) documented the site and presented the fortress embedded in the volcanic tuff rocks.

Mysterious medieval castle discovered among lava rocks in Turkey
A view of the ancient castle ruins with 11 rooms, built between volcanic rocks at the foot of Mount Tendurek, Caldiran, Van, Turkey, July 10, 2024. (AA Photo)

Located 20 kilometers from Caldiran, the castle is built of flattened basalt stones and can be reached after a strenuous two-hour climb. Perched on a high rock with magnificent views of the surrounding area, the castle features interconnecting rooms, a cistern, fortified walls and a watchtower.

Locals from the nearby Soguksu district refer to the structure as “Arap Zengi Castle.” Despite the passage of time, parts of the walls have been remarkably well preserved.

Rafet Cavusoglu, dean of the Faculty of Letters at Van Yuzuncu Yil University (YYU) and head of the Department of Archaeology, examined pottery shards in the area, suggesting that the castle was used by various civilizations during the Middle Ages. An initiative was launched to register the castle with the Regional Council for the Protection of Cultural Heritage.

Cavusoglu described how difficult it was to access the castle, built between lava rocks, and highlighted its triangular architecture and rounded bastions at three points.

Mysterious medieval castle discovered among lava rocks in Turkey
A view of the ruins of an ancient castle with 11 rooms built between volcanic rocks at the foot of Mount Tendurek after registration work on the ruins began in Caldiran, Van, Turkey, July 10, 2024. (AA Photo)

“The walls are up to 5 metres thick in some places and around 15 metres high in others,” he said. “There are two natural cracks in the structure that are used to create rooms. One section served as a cistern and is now filled due to the collapse of the walls.”

Although no Iron Age pottery has been found on the surface, the castle’s architecture and artifacts suggest a medieval origin.

“The study of the bastions reveals their medieval roots. We have found pottery that reflects classic medieval features, but determining the exact period is difficult,” he added.

The castle’s narrow southern entrance adds to its enigmatic character, offering panoramic views of the Caldiran Plains and being easily defended.

Mysterious medieval castle discovered among lava rocks in Turkey
A view of the ancient castle ruins with 11 rooms, built between volcanic rocks at the foot of Mount Tendurek, Caldiran, Van, Turkey, July 10, 2024. (AA Photo)

Castle ruins uncovered

Cavusoglu expressed surprise at the construction of the castle in such difficult terrain. “The location and inaccessibility suggest that it was built by a state power,” he said.

“It is a mysterious place, probably a refuge for high-ranking officials during conflicts. The preservation and tourism promotion of the castle is crucial due to its uniqueness and the intact state of many of its rooms. People need to experience this hidden gem.”

Efforts are currently underway to preserve and protect this enigmatic medieval castle, which offers a fascinating insight into the region’s historic landscape and architectural ingenuity.