Turkey is home to a plethora of myths and tales, particularly those relating to natural phenomena and historic structures, each of which has its own origin narrative. Let’s spotlight some of the most fascinating Turkish myths and legends from around the country, from tales of daughters and fathers to princesses and bold suitors.
The Myth of Aynalı Mağara (Mirrored Cave)
This Amasya folklore tells of a king’s daughter who was so stunningly lovely that she had to hide her face. When her father decided it was time for her to marry, he spread the word that whoever could uncover her veil and stand up to her beauty, seeing her as more than simply a pretty face, would be her husband. After hearing this, a slew of eligible young bachelors descended in Amasya. The young men arrived one by one on the throne, which had been built up in Amasya Square, to uncover the princess’ veil, but were instantly overcome by her beauty, shaking their hands or buckling their knees.
This went on for days until one day a poor but courageous young man stated he wanted to try his luck. When the young man lifted the beautiful princess’ veil, a fire erupted around them, and they died in the heat of their bond. Their remains are placed in a cave outside of town, and the sun shines as brightly on the rock façade of their tomb as it does on the princess’ gorgeous face.
The Myth of Sarıkız
Sarkz, one of the most stunning Turkish myths and legends, is about the highest point of the Kazdalar Mountains in Turkey’s Marmara and Aegea regions, and is one of the most famous Turkish legends. A number of years ago, in the village of Güre, a lovely girl named Sarkz resided, and all the young men fell in love with her and sought for her hand in marriage.
When her father didn’t think any of them were suitable to be her husband, the young men turned on him, fabricating a storey that Sarkz had done something wrong and demanding that he either murder her or leave the village. Because he couldn’t bear the thought of killing his darling daughter, the father resolved to take her far away to the peak of the Kazdalar Mountains in the hopes that she would thrive on her own.
The young girl made it through the ordeal and even offered assistance to disoriented travellers. When her father discovered she was still alive, he went to see her and discovered she had become a geese farmer (kaz means goose in Turkish). The peak where Sarkz’s tomb is located is now known as Sarkz Peak, while the peak where her father is buried is known as Babatepe (Father’s Peak).
The Legend of the Kütahya Fortress
As per mythology, giants formerly lived in Kütahya – one of the most striking Turkish myths and legends, and their king once commanded them to line up shoulder to shoulder so that they could move boulders from the Nemrut Mountains to the Hisar Hill. The giants then began to build a stronghold, which took a long time to build because the walls and roadways were scraped out by their hands.
The ruler, who is now 1,000 years old, also had a 300-year-old son who died abruptly. The leader, who had never seen death before, grew tired and looked at the stronghold he had built, stating that if he had understood death was in this region, he would never have put another stone on top of another.
The Legend of Kız Kulesi
There are several stories related with Istanbul’s Kz Kulesi (Maiden’s Tower, one of the most magnificent Turkish myths and legends), but the most renowned is the one about the Seljuk Sultan and his charming daughter When the Sultan witnessed a nightmare in which his daughter died after being bitten by a snake, he banished her to the tower to preserve her life. The daughter stayed there for years, and after she recovered from a serious illness, the community lavished her with gifts to commemorate her good health. One of the gifts was a basket of grapes, and a little snake was concealed deep amid the luscious fruits, unbeknownst to the local woman who delivered it to the tower. The snake slithered out as the princess was sleeping, and the princess died of a snake bite, just like her father’s nightmare.