Babakale is a village in the Northern Aegean Region of Turkey, with a population of 497 in 2020. It's existed since antiquity but the present village grew up to serve its castle, built from 1725. It's on Cape Baba, the westernmost point of mainland Asia, at 26° 03' 50" East on about the same longitude as Helsinki and Bucharest.

Get in edit

Ezine is on the main highway and bus route between Çanakkale, Edremit and Izmir. Change here for the local bus or dolmuş, which winds through the back lanes and olive groves to Babakale. It runs every couple of hours.

With your own vehicle, the usual route is to turn off at Gülpinar (home of Apollon Smintheion temple) for the tarmacked but twisty, potholed last 8 km to Babakale.

Seek local advice before attempting the unsealed lane from Kocaköy.

Get around edit

Babakale itself is tiny and takes less than ten minutes to walk across. You need wheels for the temple at Gülpinar.

See edit

  • The village has some traditional Ottoman architecture (including its 18th century mosque), amidst lots of modern breezeblock.
  • Babakale Castle (Hırzü’l-Bahr). This was built in the 1720s in the reign of Ahmed III to defend the harbour, an Ottoman navy base against pirates and other foes. It's a rectangle of about 38 m x 76 m near the cliff edge, and once contained a mosque, baths and some two dozen houses. Water was piped in from 5 km away. It's said that convict labourers used in the construction were released upon completion and settled locally. The walls and watchtowers have been well restored. Enter via the east gate.
  • Emek Yemez Baba (also Sultan Baba, Peksimet Yemez Latif Baba) was the holy man who gave his name to the village. He is variously said to be either an ascetic dervish relying on whatever alms offered by the passing ships or a navy man who didn't particularly enjoy hardtacks. At any rate, some Turkish seamen continue the Ottoman naval tradition of throwing chunks of bread into the sea during the passage off the cape, either to honour the humble dervish or to tease the picky sailor. He may lie buried in the unpretentious tomb north side of the castle, adjoined by an Ottoman graveyard. A lighthouse "lekton" has been recorded since antiquity, but the present structure is just a modern metal tower.
  • 1 Cape Baba   is the westernmost point of mainland Asia, reached by a scramble down the ridge from the tombs and lighthouse. (If you don't fancy scrambling those last few metres, a stroll on the modern harbour wall brings you almost as far west.) It's not the most westerly point of Turkey – that's Enez on the Greek border, and within Asia the Turkish island of Bozcaada is furthest west. Villagers will try to sell you a "certificate" for reaching the west point, maybe worth it if you fear folk back home will accuse you of actually sneaking off to Asia's easternmost point Cape Dezhnyov in Russia.
  • 2 Apollon Smintheion (Ἀπόλλων Σμινθεύς) (in Gülpınar). Daily 08:30-17:30. This is a Hellenistic temple from around 150 BC. It stood in the much older settlement of Hamaxitus, which means "wagon way" – a track led down to a harbour. The name of the temple is a puzzle: Smintheon is the deity beseeched at the opening of Iliad, something to do with mice or diseases that they spread. But the word isn't Greek, so it's unclear just where it got started between here and Cape Dezhnyov. 60 TL (about €2).
  • 3 Altınkum is a small beach resort a few km north of Babakale. Don't confuse it with the much larger Altınkum south of Izmir.
  • Lesvos is the large Greek island seen 12 km south. The way to reach it legally is by ferry from Ayvalık south side of the Gulf, but its proximity draws refugees, smugglers and others to attempt ilegal crossings. The coastguard will suspect anyone wild-camping or otherwise lurking near the coast after nightfall of preparing an attempt.

Do edit

Babakale Castle

The sea is clean and safe to swim.

Fishing trips sail from the harbour.

Buy edit

  • Knife cutlery is a village specialty; in legend the cutlers supplying blades to the castle developed a domestic sideline. Think about how many hotel security systems you're going to ping, before the souvenir finally gets confiscated when you attempt to fly home.
  • The village store by the castle is open 24 hours.

Eat edit

  • Babakale Kaleder (run by the Women's Association) and Karayel (daily 10:00-00:00) are fish restaurants near the castle.

Drink edit

Apollon Smintheion
  • Cafes and tea houses sit by the castle and harbour. There's no bar.

Sleep edit

  • Balıkçı Motel, Babakale (by castle), +90 286 747 0218. This small motel and fish restaurant remains closed in 2022.
  • Camping may be available through Çağdaş Camping (+90 530 693 7905).

Stay safe edit

The village is safe, but illegal business with Lesvos may be plotted by characters lurking in the scrubs.

The wild boars run away if you just stand tall and say "boo!".

Connect edit

As of June 2022, Babakale has 4G from all Turkish carriers, but the signal is very patchy, with lots of dead spots on the approach roads. 5G has not rolled out in Turkey.

Go next edit

  • Heading north brings you to Alexandria Troas and other antiquities around Geyikli.
  • Troy is the big sight further north.
  • East the next village of interest is Assos or Behramkale, with another Hellenistic temple.
  • Along the Troad Coast describes an itinerary through these parts.

Routes through Babakale
Becomes   (N) ← Tavaklı ←  N   S  AssosEnds at   (N / S)

This city travel guide to Babakale is a usable article. It has information on how to get there and on restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.