Photo: Evgeniy Bondarenko
Anyone who visited spelaean city Eski-Kermen of course have seen a lone tower on a small rocky plateau opposite it. It is well visible from nearest Northern patrol complex and from the southern outskirt of the medieval city.
View the fortress from the plateau of Eski-Kermen. Photo: Evgeniy Bondarenko
This is the tower Kyz-Kule, although on the my opinion, the name is not quite precise. Kyz-Kule translated from Turkic is “the maiden tower”. Come round to opinion that the is strange that the main post, responsible for the entrance of the Fort was named ” maiden”. Probably not “Kyz” but “Kez”, meaning “exam, patrol”. In due time romantic stories and legends have transformed this name. “Kez” turned in “Kyz” and all watch towers around the Crimea become “maiden”. Now guides tell the grateful tourists heart-piercing stories about poor girls who regularly hurl down such towers into the sea…
View the tower Kyz-Kule from the valley Dzhurla. Photo: Evgeniy Bondarenko
Actually this not only patrol tower but also the gate tower. The archway was the main entrance to the fortress, built on a small rocky plateau Topshan presumably in the period from the 9th to the 11th century. The purpose of the fortress is not known for certain. It could be a separate feudal estate or a spare area in case of an attack on the settlement in the valley.
The Tower Kyz-Kule. Photo: Evgeniy Bondarenko
Today a little is known about the past of the fortress because of poor occupation layer. The reason for this is a little activity, the short duration of the existence of the construction and a thin layer of earth covering the rock surface of the plateau.
An important factor is the existence in the distant past the nearby settlement. Is known that everything abandoned is disassembled and carried away very quickly by the principle of “the goods not be gone”.
The arch roofs of the tower. Photo: Evgeniy Bondarenko
During archeological excavations in 1933 the scientists have found traces of a small chapel, outbuildings and a few carved into the rock tombs. It was also found that the fortress was destroyed in the 14th century from a large fire.
The tomb, carved in the rock near the tower. Photo: Evgeniy Bondarenko
Above the valley Dzhurla tower rises only a few tens of meters and it seems that is very easy to climb up. The trail gives to South cliff. This is the shortest way, but there are some obstacles. At the beginning of the climb you meet short, but steep cliff. As I remember, a rope always hangs there, but I never use such ropes – nobody knows when she it tied and when it detaches. A mounted near the rock funeral sign says a lot… Any way, I would not advise to use other people’s ropes.
View of the tower from the valley Dzhurla. Photo: Evgeniy Bondarenko
You can get to the tower in other ways. If you climb to the plateau Topchan from the South and follow its main part to the North, you’ll reach a narrow rocky range. The ruts from the carts left there; it was the main road to the fortress. At the end of it there is a small cleft, which was in due season a natural fortress moat. Jumping over it, you’ll end up in the tower. During the existence of the fortress under this ditch was a leaf bridge. Maybe in a vertical position it has protection function being an additional protection of the entrance gate.
The ancient road to the tower. Photo: Evgeniy Bondarenko
From the North there is a shorter way. However you can easily climb on lower narrow part of the plateau, located on the East side. To climb up to the tower, which is only 2-3 meters higher – you need to climb into the carved rock stairs. To go down on them is not very fun…
The rocky stairs. Photo: Evgeniy Bondarenko
There is one more short path to the tower which lies through a secret staircase. It is located on the plumb Eastern wall of the plateau. Starting from the road it gets again to the lower part of the plateau. This staircase which has about 6 feet height is inconspicuous. If you do not know where it is, you can pass by and not notice anything. Even is difficult to call it the staircase– efface mossy hollows are hundreds years old. The climb is dangerous without insurance.
The crevice in front of the tower. Photo: Evgeniy Bondarenko
The easiest way up is along a path leading directly to the tower from the neighboring gorge Cherkez-Kermen. Today this territory belongs to the Cossack commune, and the path to it is blocked with the gate. They say you can get there if you ask politely.
In the early last century in this gorge was the village Cherkez-Kermen renamed in 1945 in Krepkoe. In 60-ies of the village ceased to exist.
View of the valley Cherkez-Kermen. Photo: Evgeniy Bondarenko
The village Cherkez-Kermen, after 1945 – Krepkoe. You can see the tower Kyz-Kule on the Northern tip of the plateau Topshan and the path leading up. Photo: Evgeniy Bondarenko
View through the gate of the tower is fascinating! A thousand years ago someone had looked through that arch as through the gates of time and maybe he was thinking about the future – what is it? If I could reflect on the past, just for a minute!
View through the gate of the tower on the plateau Topshan and ancient road. Photo: Evgeniy Bondarenko
I suppose the most interesting in the plateau are magnificent views opening from here to cliffs, caves and green valleys stretching to the horizon. You can spend hours admiring this heavenly beauty! Come and see for yourself!
View from the fortress to the South. From L to R: valley of Tekme-Tash, plateau Eski-Kermen, valley Dzhurla and farm (the campsite) “Eski-Kermen”. Photo: Evgeniy Bondarenko
View from the plateau Topshan to the North. Photo: Evgeniy Bondarenko
The tower Kyz-Kule is located in 4 km South-West from the village Krasnyi Mak and about the same distance South from the village Kholmovka. Both villages are located in Bakhchisaray district, not far from the Belbek canyon, on the South-West of Bakhchisaray. And the main landmark in the search of the tower is a spelaean town Eski-Kermen.