This article has been previously published as a part of book Gallipoli Peninsula and the Troad: TAN Travel Guide by Izabela Miszczak
Babakale is a small village, which lies on the south-western tip of Troad, at the foot of an Ottoman fortress. You can get to the village only via a winding road that winds picturesquely among rocks formations and forested areas. The difficulties of the travel are soon rewarded with the views of the Aegean Sea, extending from the eighteenth-century fortifications. Babakale village has an extraordinary location at Cape Baba (tr. Bababurnu). This cape is the westernmost point of Asia Minor, and consequently - the whole of Asia. Its location is marked by a lighthouse, standing on the cliff above the sea.
In antiquity, Cape Baba was known as Lekton. It was mentioned by Homer in Iliad 14.283 as the first disembarkation point for those going up from the sea to Ida, with its many creatures and springs. Here, Hypnos and Hera arrive at Lekton: ”Presently they reached many-fountained Ida, mother of wild beasts, and Lectum where they left the sea to go on by land, and the tops of the trees of the forest soughed under the going of their feet." According to Strabo, there was the altar of the Twelve Olympian Gods, built by Agamemnon. No traces of this ancient structure have been preserved to our times.
The present name of the village and the cape is derived from the Turkish holy hermit, called Baba i.e. Father, who once lived in this place. Sailors from the ships passing that way threw him packets of food. When he died, a tomb was erected at the cape, and the generations of hermits took care of this shrine. They also received food from the sailors. The Ottoman name of the cape - Emek Yemez Burnu (i.e. the Cape of Doing Nothing) probably comes from those hermits and their way of spending time.
According to local stories, the village was founded by the prisoners, who got their freedom back as a reward for the work on the construction of the fortress. Later, their community was joined by fishermen and their families, and thus the settlement grew steadily. Currently, it has about 500 residents.
The main attraction of the village is a fortress towering over the area. Babakale Fortress stands out in two ways among other fortress built during the reign of the Ottoman dynasty. First of all, it is located exactly at the westernmost point of the Asian continent. Secondly, it is the last stronghold erected on the territory of modern Turkish Republic during the reign of the Ottomans.
The fortress was build in order to assist the local garrison in the fight against pirates ravaging this part of the Aegean Sea. According to the information board located inside the fortress, the building was erected by Admiral Mustafa Pasha. He is also credited as the builder of the village mosque, baths, and a fountain.
A more extended version of the history of the fort says that it was commissioned by Sultan Ahmed III. Apparently, when he sailed nearby a storm hit the sea, and his ship sought a refuge in the local harbor. During a short stay in Babakale, the sultan learned of the enormous injustices, which his subjects experienced at the hands of pirates. For this reason, he ordered to build the castle, which was erected around 1720 by prisoners.
A stone inscription in Arabic is carved above the main gate leading into the fortress. The area inside the walls is partially overgrown with shrubs, and partly cleared out for a small football pitch. Apparently, local celebrations and weddings are also held in the fortress.
Looking from the top of the battlements, outlines and the foundations of several buildings that stood on the castle grounds are visible. One of the towers houses a modern lighthouse. The appearance of the walls indicates their recent renovation, with visible modern infill. It is possible to walk around the fortress on its ramparts as there is a narrow sidewalk. However, please note that there are no security barriers to protect you against a fall from a considerable height. Therefore, we recommend great caution while walking and taking photos.
Within the fortress, there are no additional attractions for visitors, such as a museum or an exhibition. On the other hand, the views that extend from the walls are most impressive. You can see the Aegean Sea and two islands - a Turkish one - Bozcaada, and a Greek one - Lesbos. Looking in the opposite direction you can observe Babakale village and steep hills surrounding it.
At the foot of the fortress, from the sea, there is a small cemetery with the tomb of the famous Muslim hermit Baba. In Babakale village, there is a mosque, which was built at the same time as the fortress. It is also possible to spot many well-preserved stone houses from the Ottoman era, built in a style typical for this region of Turkey.
Admission to Babakale fortress is free of charge. A parking lot is directly in front of the fortress.
By coach: there are coaches to Babakale from Ezine (7 TL, 2 hours) and Gülpınar (2 Tl, 15 minutes).
By car: there is only one road to Babakale. It starts in Gülpınar (the town that boasts Apollon Smintheion temple). If you travel along the main road of this region of Troad, turn right in Gülpınar, and follow the signposts to Babakale. It is only 9 km away from Gülpınar.
In Babakale, you can enjoy a delicious meal at one of several restaurants that specialize in fish and squid dishes. They are located next to the castle and the harbor.
Babakale may prove to be the ideal choice for a few days of relaxation in a place far away from the hustle and bustle of civilization. There are at least three hotels, each of them has a restaurant, and offers rooms with the views of the sea and the fortress. The night in Uranus Motel (00 90 286 747 0218) costs about 50/100 TL for a single room/double room, in Denizhan Hotel (00 90 286 747 0102) and in Karayel Motel (00 90 286 747 0497) - for around 70/125 TL (single/double room).
Most of the travelers decide not to stay overnight in Babakale, but to go further to the east, to Assos (20 km), where the selection of accommodation options is much wider.