You know you’ve arrived in Kizkalesi when you spot the floating castle. Sitting some thousand feet offshore, it’s the focal point for this sandy little town in southern Turkey. Walking the beach or sitting in a deserted shorefront bar, the "Maiden" castle is pretty much the best and only thing to look at.
But this isn't the only castle in town. At one end of the beach, more ruined and less photographed, a second fortress lies. Maybe not quite as immediately gripping, Korykos castle was once more impressive. (Admittedly, though, it just doesn’t look as cool.)
The natural harbors that line this part of the coast are made even more attractive by plentiful freshwater springs, which have been an important part of life here forever. Situated at a strategic point in the Eastern Mediterranean, Korykos, as Kizkalesi was called under Greek rule, was once at the naval crossroads between Greece, Cyprus and the Middle Eastern states further south. It changed hands many times, grew and then diminished, and eventually came to be ruled by the Byzantian Emperors for a short time. It was during the Byzantine era that the two castles were constructed – the 12th century rulers were worried about pirates more than anything, and were trying to fortify the port.
The pirate activity continued throughout the middle ages, much of it committed by moorish and cypriot boats. A lot of this Mediterranean piracy was actually focused on land raids, and the population in the area shifted away from the water to the inland fields. Still, the Korykos and Maiden forts were maintained to guard the harbor, and to act as a base for a fleet of Byzantine naval ships that patrolled the regional waters.