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Akkale spiral staircase Mersin Province.JPG
Spiral staircase in Akkale
Akkale is located in Turkey
Shown within Turkey
Alternative name (Tırtar Akkele)
Location Erdemli, Mersin Province, Turkey
Region Cilicia Trachea
Coordinates 36°22′N 34°13′E / 36.367°N 34.217°E / 36.367; 34.217Coordinates: 36°22′N 34°13′E / 36.367°N 34.217°E / 36.367; 34.217
Type Palace (?)
Site notes
Archaeologists Semavi Eyice and Dr. Robert W. Edwards
Condition In ruins

Akkale (literally "white castle") is the popular name given to ruins of a building complex in Kumkuyu town of Erdemli district, Mersin Province, Turkey


Akkale (also called Tırtar Akkale where Tırtar is the former name of Kumkuyu) is situated to south west of Kumkuyu at 36°32′N 34°13′E / 36.533°N 34.217°E / 36.533; 34.217. Its distance to Erdemli is 14 kilometres (8.7 mi) and to Mersin is 51 kilometres (32 mi). The buildings are accessible by a short lane from the Turkish state highway D-400 . The distance to Mediterranean Sea coast is about 250 metres (820 ft).


The original name of the site is not known. But it was a port administration complex of the Roman Empire built in the 4th century.[1] However, according to Turkish archaeologist Semavi Eyice the main building may be the palace of Archelaus of Cappadocia who lived in the first century and was known to spend summers in Cilicia.[2] A part of the buildings were repaired during the Byzantine era probably after the great earthquakes of the 6th century.

Technical details[edit]

Although the popular name Akkale means "White castle", the complex was not a castle, but a small, wealthy settlement. It consists of the ruins of the main building, which was once five stories in height, a large cistern, and numerous other constructions. The five-story building is traditionally called a palace (Turkish: Akkale sarayı), for it may have been used both as the office and the lodging building of the governor. The corbels which are on all sides of the building indicate the existence of a now completely demolished balcony which circumscribed the building. The main staircase of the building was a spiral staircase. A small building is assumed to be the treasury office where documents may have been kept in the basement. The cistern is one of the biggest cisterns in Cilicia with over 17,000 square metres (180,000 sq ft). It was used to sell water to ships.[3]

Within this complex is a free-standing rectangular structure which has one of the region’s few extant domes on pendentives and was thought to be a church. However, in 1989 an archaeological study was published with a plan, which describes the site as a mausoleum.[4] This cruciform building was constructed with beautifully cuts blocks of limestone masonry.


  1. ^ Edwards, Robert W., "Akkale" (2016). The Eerdmans Encyclopedia of Early Christian Art and Archaeology, ed., Paul Corby Finney. Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing. pp. 26–27. ISBN 978-0-8028-9016-0.
  2. ^ Arik, Osman; Çalışkan, Mehmet; Aydın, Ayşe; Aydınoğlu, Ümit; Kerem, Filiz, eds. (2009) [2007]. Mersin: Ören Yerleri, Kaleleri, Müzeleri [Mersin: Oren Places, Castles, Museums] (in Turkish). Prepared by Filiz Kerem; Photographs by Selami Türk; Graphic design by Tanrtim Sanatlari (First ed.). Istanbul: Ekin Grubu (2007, first edition); İl Özel İdaresi (2009 edition). ISBN 978-605-4196-07-4. OCLC 805652523. ISBN (invalid as printed in first edition) 975-585-787-9. Archived from the original on June 4, 2014. Retrieved June 4, 2014.
  3. ^ Mersin Tourism page (in Turkish)
  4. ^ Robert W. Edwards, “The Domed Mausoleum at Akkale in Cilicia,” Byzantinoslavica, Revue Internationale des Études Byzantines 50, 1989, pp.46-56, pls,1-15.