Zilkale Castle (Zil Kale or Zil Castle) is Turkey’s one of the most magnificent castles. The castle welcomes thousands of visitors every year. With its altitude of 750 m, the castle offers a magical view to its visitors. So, you must add it to your “to-do list” in Turkey.
Before We Begin: Zil Kale, Zil Castle, or Zilkale Castle?
Don’t worry! They are all correct to refer to the castle. Yet, there are some slight nuances. But before elaborating the differences, we should also remark that people also name the castle as “Zir Kale”. We will also explain it…
Zil Kale: Zil means “bell” and kale means “castle” in Turkish. So, means “Bell Castle”.
Zir Kale: Zir means “lower” in Persian and kale means “castle” in Turkish. So, Zirkale means “Lower Castle”.
Characteristics of Zilkale Castle
First of all, Zilkale is a medieval castle. The castle takes place in the Firtina Valley (literally “storm valley”) within the North Anatolian Mountains. Most importantly, even though the castle is not one of the most popular ones, it is, however, one of the most important historical structures in Rize province. It is the pearl of Turkey and situated within the Black Sea region of the country. Zilkale Castle is the most mysterious and romantic castle in Turkey. It is probably because forests and waterfalls surround Zilkale. Moreover, the castle sits at the top of a wild valley.
The Great Location of the Castle
The castle was built at an altitude of 750 m and sits at the edge of a cliff overlooking the Fırtına Valley. Researchers believe that the castle was built between the 14th and 15th centuries. Zilkale consists of the outer walls, the middle walls, and the inner castle. It is only possible to reach the gate of the outer castle through a pathway in the northwest direction. There are three important buildings in the middle castle. These are garrison quarters, and a possible chapel and head tower. There are arched windows on the east side of the tower walls, and loopholes on the other sides.
Zil Castle is under protection because it is a 1st-degree archaeological conservation site. The historical Zilkale attracts the attention of tourists and nature lovers with its wonderful beauty and magnificent surroundings. Therefore, Zilkale Castle is an impeccable spot to visit in Turkey.
History of Zilkale Castle
As we pointed out before, the castle is a perfect place to travel in Turkey. So, researchers believe that the building of the castle dates back to the 14th and 15th centuries. The castle has outer walls, middle walls, and the inner castle. Furthermore, there are also garrison quarters, and a possible chapel and head tower. According to Anthony Bryer (1937-2016), a British historian, the castle is actually an Armenian chapel. It was built by the Empire of Trebizond for the local Lord of Hamshenis.
According to some other assumptions, Zilkale was built by emperors of the Komnenos dynasty who lived in the region in the 13th century. Genoeses, Greeks, and Ottomans used the castle, as well as the dynasty until the end of the 1800s. In terms of its situation on the route of the historical Silk Road, Zilkale is a peerless castle with its unique location.
What to do While You are Here?
Zilkale is the most tremendous castle in Rize province with its unique view and historical background. It is also on the list of Turkey’s 13 most magnificent castles. So, the cattle is attracting attention with its scenery. No need to mention that the castle welcomes hundreds of thousands of visitors especially during the summer season.
So, here are the best things to do around the castle while you are there;
- Zilkale is very close to the plateaus in Camlihemsin. You can see the impressive Firtina River and the green plateaus from the castle.
- During your visit to Zilkale, you can also stop by Palovit Waterfall. Located 6 km away from the castle, the waterfall is as enchanting as the castle of Zilkale.
- You should definitely visit Ayder Plateau, which is 30 km away from Zilkale. The road is quite hard to drive. Therefore, the journey to the plateau takes almost 45 minutes.
- Çat and Elevit Plateaus are also must-see places when you visit Zilkale Castle.
What is the Best Time to Visit Zilkale Castle?
The best time to visit the castle is definitely the summer season. Because of the geographical features of the region, the place and the surrounding may be very cold even in Spring. Moreover, it is even cool in summer. So, you should consider having some pullover sweatshirts or cardigans alike.
The Big Question: What to Eat?
If you get hungry during your visit to Zilkale Castle, you can prefer the restaurant around it. The restaurant has an amazing panorama that sees the landscape and around from an altitude of 750 m. What’s more, it also has the wonderful view of Fırtına Deresi (Fırtına Stream).
So, what you can find there to eat are grill types, appetizers, traditional ice-creams, and a wide variety of beverages. However, in Çamlıhemşin province, it is possible to find much more alternatives and local flavors of the Black Sea Region of Turkey.
The most important foodstuffs of the region are fish, corn, and bean. So, you will come across different types of these 3 main foodstuffs there. Above all, we strongly recommend you not return to where you live before trying mıhlama (or muhlama), the most delicious local flavor of the region.
Entrance Fee to Zilkale Castle
The entrance to the castle is 4 Turkish Lira (40 cents). Besides, the entrance is free for lower than 18-year and older than 65-year visitors. By the way, Müzekart (Museum Card) is not valid in the stunningly beautiful building, which is not affiliated with the Ministry of Culture and Tourism.
How to Go to Zilkale Castle?
Last but not least, the question of how to go to the castle is another popular question needed to be answered. So, as public transportation is not an option to reach the castle, you must use a personal vehicle to get there.
By Car: If you use your personal vehicle to go to Zil Kale, first, you have to pass the provincial center of Rize. After passing Çayeli and Pazar district, you can continue for about 8 kilometers. Before arriving in Ardeşen, you can take the Çamlıhemşin junction and continue for about 20 kilometers. From Çamlıhemşin to Mollaveyis before returning to Ayder, you can go as far. When you continue a little more, you will reach the pathway leading to the castle.