Ancient Gaziantep Castle Destroyed In Turkey Earthquake

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Gretchen Clayson Contributor
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An ancient castle dating back to the Roman and Byzantine empires was destroyed in Turkey following the 7.8 magnitude earthquake that rocked the country and neighboring Syria in the early hours of Monday morning.

Gaziantep Castle, built initially as a watchtower between the second and fourth centuries AD under the Romans, collapsed in the earthquake that saw roughly 2,824 other buildings destroyed, CBS News reported.

The castle, a historic site and tourist attraction for the area, was transformed from watchtower to castle in the fifth century AD by Byzantine Emperor Justinianus, also called the “Architect of Castles,” CBS reported. The castle was improved and repaired by the Ottomans while they reigned over the region, with two of its 12 towers and its main gate being completely rebuilt in 1557 by Suleiman the Magnificent, the outlet reported.

“Some of the bastions in the east, south and southeast parts of the historical Gaziantep Castle in the central Şahinbey district were destroyed by the earthquake, the debris was scattered on the road,” Turkish state-run outlet Anadolu reported, according to CNN. “The iron railings around the castle were scattered on the surrounding sidewalks. The retaining wall next to the castle also collapsed. In some bastions, large cracks were observed.”

Gaziantep was one of the areas hit hardest by Monday’s quake. The city of over two million people was already struggling to maintain public resources in the face of the massive influx of refugees pouring into the city from nearby Aleppo, seeking to flee the Syrian civil war, Bloomberg reported. (RELATED: Turkey And Syria Rocked By Massive Earthquake, More Than 1,000 People Reported Dead)

“I have never felt anything like it in the 40 years I’ve lived,” Erdem, a resident of the city, told BBC News. “We were shaken at least three times very strongly, like a baby in a crib.”

The dome and east-facing wall of the nearby 17th century Şirvani Mosque also partially caved in during the quake, CNN reported, citing Anadolu.