The City of Ordu is surround by mountains. Locals and tourists can take advantage of any number of them to take beautiful views of the city and the Black Sea. On the top of one of these mountains rests the 2300 year old ruins of an old temple and fortress thought to be part of the Kingdom of Pontus. I first noticed this fortress sitting on top of a rock cliff raising above the Ordu skyline. Later when I learned that there was an archaeological site on top I was determined to check it out.
The fortress is named Kurul Kalesi, or Council Fortress, and it’s located close to the city only about 13 km (8 mi) from the city center. The fortress is actually in the Village of Bayadı although I never did see the village when I visited. Getting to the fortress is another adventure as the route is not very well marked, however there are a couple of signs, and I didn’t get lost. I did think I was lost a couple of times, because the quality of the road was not what I would expect for touristic destination. The last couple of miles were dirt and loose gravel, not so great for motorcycles with road tires. The only real obstacle was the dogs. I think I came across about 5 dogs, all of which wanted to attack me for violating their space. I HATE dogs that chase after me on my motorcycle barking and nipping at my tires. I can only picture them getting stuck under my tires, causing me to crash, and then deciding to finish me off.
I remember what I learned in my motorcycle safety training…Don’t panic and power away, because a motorcycle is way faster than a dog. Well that’s not always true. Not only are these Ordu dogs fast, but they are determined. Seriously I was chased by one of these dogs for over one mile up a hill. It was only after the dog tired out that I won the chase, but not because I certainly was able to power away. I have to admit that I was panicking. On the way back I decided I would try to sneak by the dog by cutting off my motor and maybe he wouldn’t hear me coming. I underestimated how well a dog can hear…and it didn’t work out so well.
After surviving packs of wild dogs, I reached the entrance to the park. The park is surrounded by hazelnut trees and a chicken farm. The entrance of the park is controlled with a fence and a guard house, but nobody was there. Maybe it was because it was a weekday. Once past the gate, which was open, I rode up a steep dirt road towards what I hoped to be a parking area. The road ended at the base of a staircase with no place to park, for a car anyway. Not a problem for me.
It was clear that not very many people come and visit the fortress, at least not recently. The path was a little overgrown, but it had nice lampposts indicating that some effort was made to make it accessible to tourists. I failed to mention something that could hint why there were not many visitors. All around the park were big signs saying, “Do not enter the archeologic dig!” (in Turkish of course). Well, since the gate was open, and there wasn’t anyone to tell me to leave, I interpreted the sign to mean literally do not enter the “dig site” or excavation. It didn’t say don’t enter the property or park. I never saw anyone, so we’ll never know.
The fortress is one of my favourite places I have visited in Ordu so far. The ruins were in great condition considering they are 2,300 years old and exposed to the elements on top of a cliff. I could almost picture how things could have been arranged back then. The ruins consist of some stone walls, which are being unearthed or excavated (note I did not enter the excavation), a cistern carved into the floor of the rock, and a steep escape tunnel as is common with these type of mountaintop fortresses. I was very impressed and wondered why the site was not promoted more.
Equal to the quality of the ruins was the view. It was clear why the site was chosen for a fortress, because I could see for miles in all directions. It would be impossible for an army to sneak up to the fortress without being noticed. The views of the city nestled against the sea and the lush green valleys to the south were spectacular and well worth the adventure. I am thankful for the opportunity to experience both history and nature at the same time.