Smaller Kızkalesi                                              Population:

yumurta1Old name: Aegae (Graeco-Roman), Ayas (Greek/Armenian), Lajazo (Genoese/Venetian)

At the small beach resort of Yumurtalık, south of Adana, a strip of sandy beach looks straight out onto the low-lying off-shore ruins of Kızkalesi (the Maiden’s Castle).

Not altogether surprisingly, the castle is the setting for a tragic story virtually identical to the one told about Kızkulesi (the Maiden’s Tower) in Istanbul: young woman is told by a fortune-teller that she will be killed by a snake bite; young woman holes up in off-shore castle; young woman is sent a basket of food inside which lurks the death-dealing snake...


Yumurtalık's present-day backwater status belies an interesting history. In the Hellenistic period it was known for a Temple to Asclepius, second in importance only to the one at Pergamum (Bergama). Then in the Roman period the foundations were laid for it to become a major port in the Middle Ages, the port through which much trade with the east was carried out. It was sufficiently important that in 1296 the Genoese and Venetians actually fought a battle over trading concessions there; the Genoese came out of it victorious. 

By then the port had become the most important port for the Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia. After 1291 when Acre fell to Saladin it was the only port in the eastern Mediterranean that was still in Christian hands. 

In 1322 the Mamluks seized Ayas and destroyed the offshore castle. The destruction of the land castle followed in 1323. In 1367 Peter I of Cyprus wrestled the port back from the Mamluks but they quickly recovered it and held onto it until 1615 when Selim I arrived to capture it for the Ottomans. 

The port was gradually usurped in importance as the trade routes started to veer north via Trebizond (Trabzon) and Tarsus took its place as the main southern port, only to be replaced in turn by Mersin

Marco Polo and Ayas. The great Venetian traveller passed through the port of Ayas on his way to China in 1271 and again on his way back in 1296 when he seems to have beome embroiled in the Genoese-Venetian fighting. He ended up being taken back to Genoa as a prisoner and began work on his great book of Travels in jail. 

yumurta2Around town

A small promontory juts out towards the castle and is decorated with the remains of another small castle newly restored with the aid of European Union funding.

On its far side is a picture-postcard fishing harbour with the predictable, if very low-key, fish restaurants to go with it.

If you keep following the shoreline you will come to the Kaymakamlık (local government offices) where, in the absence of a museum, all sorts of Roman bits and bobs are coralled in the car park.

It’s about another km’s walk out to a small stone keep overlooking a bay. As you make your way there you can entertain yourself by looking for bits of old Roman masonry reused in garden walls and cowsheds, and asking yourself what ever possessed someone to decide that most of the walls would look better painted to resemble the hide of a multi-colored reticulated giraffe.

If you're wanting to visit the Hittite site at Karatepe-Aslantaş and have your own car, Yumurtalık makes a great alternative base to Osmaniye, with hotels and pensions to suit most budgets and fields of flowering sunflowers stretching as far as the eye can see along the road down from Adana in late summer.


Grand Beach Hotel 

Impressive modern hotel, its stylish rooms equipped with private bathrooms, AC, satellite TV, tea and coffee-making facilities; those facing sea have balconies. Breakfast in light-filled top-floor restaurant is nowhere near good enough for the prices charged. Across main road from beach.

Tel: 0322-671 2277

Küçük Pansiyon. Tel: 0322-671 2215

Öztur Otel. Tel: 0322-671 2167

yumurta3Transport info

Get here from Ceyhan. Unfortunately the Yumurtalık dolmuşes leave from a terminus in town rather than from the main bus station – which is where buses from Adana will leave you.

Day trip destinations


Karatepe-Aslantaş National Park


Events Calendar

August 2020
26 27 28 29 30 31 1
2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29
30 31 1 2 3 4 5

Exchange Rates