Population: 350

South of the road connecting Şanlıurfa with Viranşehir is the small and dusty settlement of Eskikale which sits around the base of the impressive remains of Cimdin Kalesi, high on a mound and ringed with a rock-cut ditch that once contained a moat.

Little is known for sure about the castle although work on it is thought to have started in Byzantine times. Most of what survives may date from the period when the Ayyubid dynasty ruled this part of Anatolia. 

The single most impressive structure is a soaring arch from the top of which oil could have been poured on the heads of any enemy who had managed to sneak up unseen and to cross the moat. It's hard to think of any other castle in the country with quite such an impressive arch.

On one side of the castle there are also extensive remains of rock-cut graves, most of them circular. It would be easy to fall into some of them so don't visit in fading light. 

In the village itself long low concrete houses are taking the place of the old mud-brick ones with their flat roofs. Most were surrounded with underground caves which were used for storing wheat, animal feed etc. Locals can still point out the cave that used to contain the local mill. 

In 2015 there was still a small prinary school here, and a new mosque and Köy Odası (community centre) had been built quite recently. The new road from Harran to Soğmater will eventually come through Eskikale, heading, perhaps, for Viranşehir. 

Beyond Eskikale lie several cave settlements, including the slight remains of what was once known as the Kızlar Sarayı (Girls Palace).

Transport info

There is no bus to Eskikale. Viranşehir didn't appear to have any formal taxis although I didn't go into the town centre to check. If you ask at the dolmuş stations on the main road someone will probably offer to run you to the village as a unofficial taxi. 

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