Işıkkale is one of the many rural settlements, established in the Taurus mountains in ancient times. Similarly as in the case of the nearby sites of Karakabaklı and Sinekkale, also in Işıkkale you can see the preserved fragments of the Roman road, the remains of residential buildings as wells the ruins of an early Christian church, built on the plan of a three-aisled basilica.
The earliest traces of settlement discovered in Işıkkale date back to the Hellenistic period that is from the late 4th century BCE to the end of the first century BCE. This agricultural settlement developed in Roman times, when a road was constructed, connecting the villages hidden in the Taurus mountains with the Mediterranean coast. From Byzantine times, there are numerous of sarcophagi with a visible sign of the cross, and a ruined basilica.
Işıkkale was first described by a Turkish researcher of the Byzantine period, Semavi Eyice. Her work was a part of the inventory project of the Byzantine monuments from Silifke area. In the 80s of the 20th century, Friedrich Hild and Hansgerd Hellenkemper visited Işıkkale, and published their results in the article Kilikien und Isaurien, in 1990.
Ina Eichner conducted the surveys early Byzantine residential houses in the area of Turkey, in 1998-2000 and 2003. Her work was funded by the German Academic Exchange Service. Ina Eichner reached, among other sites, also Işıkkale, where she performed re-measurements of the residential buildings.
Gunder Varinlioğlu, Turkish specialist in Byzantine art, from Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University, also researched Işıkkale. It was done within in the framework of the research project of ancient settlements located to the west of Yenibahçe Valley, conducted in 2003-2007.
Işıkkale area is divided into two parts by a gorge and a modern road that connects Atakent and İmamlı. Two districts of Işıkkale are separated by around 200 meters distance. In ancient times, both districts were linked with a paved road, fragments of which have survived to this day. According to Günder Varinlioğlu, these districts were created as independent agricultural settlements. The main administrative and commercial buildings, located between these districts, were added later. This researcher has estimated that the visible farm buildings and houses were erected in the period from the late 4th century to the early sixth century.
Residential houses in both parts of the settlement had one level only. They were built close to each other, without a clear plan for the spatial development of the whole village. In the western district, there is a vast necropolis with numerous sarcophagi. On the eastern side, there is a ruined three-nave basilica, on a rectangular plan, with sides 30 and 25 meters long. The narthex is located to the west, and the apse on the eastern side of the building. Like in the case of Hıdırlı basilica, there are pastophoria on both sides of the apse. They were small rooms serving as a dual sacristy. The architecture of the basilica suggests that it was built in the first half of the 6th century.
On the eastern side of the basilica, there is a large water cistern. In its vicinity, there are many sarcophagi, decorated with garlands, leaves, and pigeons.
Işıkkale 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.
By car: Işıkkale 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 Sinekkale are situated on the same route. In addition, approximately 600 meters to the north of Işıkkale, there is the intersection with the road leading to the karst sinkhole known as Aşağı Dünya, i.e. Lower World and another ancient settlement.