An ancient castle in the center of the city of Gaziantep, in southern Turkey, was heavily damaged by a powerful earthquake on Monday, intensifying concerns about damage to other important sites of antiquity in a region that has been a cultural crossroads for thousands of years.Some of the bastions in the eastern, southern and southeastern parts of the castle were destroyed, a Turkish state-run news agency, Anadolu, said in a report about the damage. Large cracks had cleaved other bastions, the report said, and parts of the nearby Sirvani Mosque had also collapsed.
Images and video footage released by Anadolu and a local news agency appeared to show collapsed stone walls and iron railings, which had surrounded the castle, strewn across sidewalks.
The region hit hard by the quakes has been part of several empires, including the Hittite, Babylonian, Persian, Greek, Roman, Byzantine, Arab and Ottoman.
Gaziantep Castle was built as a watchtower in the Roman period, in the second and third centuries. It was expanded in the sixth century under the Byzantine emperor Justinian, according to Turkish Museums, a site run by the ministry of culture and tourism.
It is considered one of the “best examples of surviving castles in Turkey,” according to the website. The castle, with an extensive series of underground tunnels that was used to transport water, is included in UNESCO’s tentative list for World Heritage sites.