Gaziantep Castle, a relic of the Roman Empire, was destroyed on Monday by the mega-earthquake that hit vast regions of Turkey and Syria. The fortress was an important part of Turkish culture, and its destruction is a major blow to the country’s rich history.
the castle was located about 17.9 km from the epicenter of the earthquake, in a city of the same name that is home to about two million inhabitants.
The first 7.8 magnitude quake struck at 04:17 am (local time) at a depth of about 18 km and was followed by a slightly smaller 7.5 magnitude temblor and more than 50 aftershocks. According to official figures, the great earthquake killed more than 2,700 people in both countries.
The oldest castle in Gaziantep was built by the Hittiteswhich arrived in Anatolia in the Bronze Age and achieved the status of a large regional empire before breaking up into smaller states beginning in the 12th century BC
These ancient peoples handed down their legacy to the Romans, who built the main building in the 2nd and 3rd centuries AD. C. (at the highest point of the Empire until its collapse).
Built as a watchtower on top of Kudret Hill in the center of Gaziantep Citythe stone fortress was used and renovated over the centuries by many of the Anatolians.
The Byzantines continued to protect the castle, which was enlarged and strengthened in its modern form under the reign of Justinian I between 527 and 565 AD.
Describing the damage, the Turkish news agency Anadolu reported. “Some of the bastions in the eastern, southern and southeastern parts of the historic Gaziantep castle in the central Sahinbey district were destroyed by the earthquake, rubble was scattered on the road.”
And they added: “The iron bars that surrounded the castle were scattered on the surrounding sidewalks. The retaining wall next to the castle also collapsed. Large cracks were observed in some bastions”.
Archaeological sites of great value were also lost in Syria
The Aleppo Citadel and other archaeological sites in Syria were also damaged in the fierce earthquake.
“Parts of the Ottoman mill inside the Aleppo citadel collapsed, and parts of the northeastern defensive walls cracked and split,” the general directorate of antiquities and museums said in a statement.
“Large parts of the dome of the Ayyubid mosque’s minaret” inside the citadel also collapsed, “including the entrance to the Mamluk defensive tower,” it reported.
In the old city of Aleppo, in northwestern Syria, several residential buildings adjacent to the historic walls have collapsed.
The city is known for this citadel, an architectural jewel from medieval times, and for its old city, classified in 2018 as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Danger, after years of civil war.
In Syria’s west-central province of Hama, archaeological teams reported “some damaged buildings inside the ancient Margat castle” in the city of Baniás. A part of the walls and a tower also collapsed.
In the city of Hama, some historical facades also collapsed, while in Al Qadmus, a cliff fell near the city’s castle, in the province of Tartus. Residential buildings in the castle grounds also fell.
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