Sinekkale

GPS coordinates: 36.453017, 33.994135

Sinekkale, literally the Castle of Flies, is actually a complex of ancient farmstead buildings, located in Cilicia. These buildings date back to the late Roman and early Byzantine periods. They belonged to the so-called villa rustica. This Latin phrase describes a villa located in rural areas. A villa rustica was the heart of a large agricultural estate (latifundium). It served both as a residence of the landowner, his family, and retainers and also as a farm management centre. It was surrounded by barns, sheds, and residential buildings for workers and slaves. Such was also the case in Sinekkale where an olive-oil press was identified among other workshops, on the estate's extensive grounds.

Sinekkale
Sinekkale

Archaeological research: 

The first description and a plan of Sinekkale were prepared in the early 70s of the 20th century by Semavi Eyice, a Turkish art historian. At the end of the 80s, Friedrich Hild and Hansgerd Hellenkemper visited the site because of the research project they carried out in Cilicia. In 1998, two French archaeologists, Gilbert Dagron and Olivier Callot, also visited Sinekkale. The most accurate description of this site was created by Ina Eichner, who made an inventory of early Byzantine residential buildings in Turkey at the beginning of the 21st century. In 2008, she published a paper devoted to Sinekkale, Sinekkale - Herberge, Kloster oder Gutshof? that is Sinekkale - an inn, a monastery or a farm?.

Sightseeing: 

The main building in Sinekkale, the villa rustica, was built on an irregular plan, with numerous nooks and crannies. The structure has a length of about 24 meters from the east to the west, and it measures about 21 meters at the widest point of the north-south axis. The main entrance to the villa was from the west to an inner courtyard, surrounded by a high wall. The villa had two floors. On the ground floor, there were five rooms, and on the first floor - six rooms, separated by arches. On the outer wall, there are visible consoles that once supported a balcony.

There were at least three latrines in the household. Pipes brought rainwater to these latrines from the roof. In the south-western corner of the building, there are visible traces of a small square room. Possibly, these are the remains of a defence tower. These towers were often erected in the Roman and Byzantine farms in Cilicia, for example in Gökburç.

In the vicinity of the villa, there are traces of many farm and residential buildings. Some of them were built with the application of Cyclopean masonry. The massive limestone boulders were roughly fitted together with no use of mortar. Interestingly, there are carved signs - a wreath, a winged stick and an unexplained symbol - on a lintel of one building in Sinekkale. The discussed masonry technique and the presence of these symbols, that were typical for the nearby Olba, suggest that Sinekkale had already been inhabited in the Hellenistic period.

Ina Eichner defines the main building is Sinekkale as a villa rustica because of its location, as it is surrounding by agricultural land. The presence of three latrines suggests that it had an additional function of an inn for travellers. According to this interpretation, the owner's family could live upstairs, and guests were accommodated in the rooms on the ground floor, with separate entrances. Gilbert Dagron offered an alternative interpretation of the ruins in Sinekkale as the monastic buildings. However, due to the similarity of the building plan in Sinekkale to other villas in the region of Cilicia, for example Işıkkale or Karakabaklı, it is a less convincing interpretation.

Visitor tips: 

Sinekkale area is not fenced off, and there is no entrance fee. The ruins are clearly visible from the road, and they marked with a white board displaying the name of the site. Wear sturdy boots and long trousers for the exploration, because the site is in no way prepared for tourists.

Getting there: 

By car: Sinekkale ruins are located just off the road connecting the Mediterranean coast with the town of İmamlı, and further on with Olba and Diocaesarea. Ancient settlements of Karakabaklı and Işıkkale are situated on the same route. The distance to Sinekkale from Silifke is 15 km, and from Kızkalesi - 22 km.

Image gallery: 

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