The "Stone Castle"

300 DSC00456In the heart of Central Anatolia at Taşkale, near Karaman, an extraordinary overhanging rock stands pierced with row upon row of rock-cut wheat depots, each with a wooden door and a pulley to haul up the sacks.

In the mid-1980s a larger space was hollowed out to create a small mosque right inside the rock. With ricketty old houses tucked up underneath it, it's an extraordinarily picturesque sight. There is nothing quite like it anywhere else in the country.

The journey to Taşkale from Karaman is in itself a delight. Head out of town on the Ereğli road where the air is sweetly scented by a string of biscuit factories. Once you pass the construction work for the new İbrala Dam you will find yourself lost amid greenery until eventually you reach the sleepy, quaint village of Yeşildere which seems to belong to a long-lost Turkey. 300 DSC00454Manazan

Beyond it, at Manazan, a huge rock pierced with caves on five levels rises up to the left of the road. The site is usually assumed to be that of a monastery, although the poet John Ash has suggested, plausibly, that it could have served the same sort of defensive function as the underground cities of Cappadocia.

Whatever the truth of the matter, things certainly ended badly for the residents, many of whose mummified remains were found heaped up at the base of a shaft. One is on display in Karaman Museum still wearing the shift she died in.

Transport info

Without your own car you will need to take a taxi from Karaman. Agree a price for the return trip including waiting time at the sights along the way before setting out.200 DSC00455


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