A number of heritage structures have been damaged after an earthquake hit central and southern Turkey and north-western Syria early Monday morning. That earthquake, which registered a magnitude of 7.8, was followed less than 12 hours later by a second earthquake of 7.5 magnitude in south-eastern Turkey.
Over 1,200 people have been reported dead across Turkey and Syria, with thousands more injured, according to official reports. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan claims that over 2,300 buildings have been destroyed. The known casualties and damage are expected to increase.
The most notable structure destroyed is the Gaziantep Castle in southeastern Turkey. The historic stone castle, now a historic site and tourist attraction, was constructed by the Hittite Empire as a watchtower during the second millennium BCE.
The Romans expanded the castle in the second and third centuries, and it was again expanded by the Byzantine Emperor Justinian in the fifth century. The castle had 12 towers and a moat surrounding it. Last year, it was turned into the Gaziantep Defence and Heroism Panoramic Museum, which showcased art and artifacts from the Turkish War of Independence in the structure’s walls.
“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,” 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,” the report continued.
Next to the castle, the dome and eastern wall of the 17th century Şirvani Mosque have reportedly partially collapsed.
The Cathedral of the Annunciation in the southern Turkish city Iskenderun has almost completely collapsed, according to local media. The Catholic church was originally built between 1858–71 and, after a fire, was reconstructed in 1901.