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Anavarza and Anavarza Castle

Bütün Türkiye resimleri için buraya basınız veya diğer kalesiler
This gallery is in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea topic
Click here for my page with very many Turkish cities or see more castles

As I indicated at my Yılankale or Snake Castle gallery, a student from Adana, Kerem Kemaneci, suggested some destinations near that city, such as some of the great castles dispersed all over the Cukurova plain. The day after my arrival in March 2008 we – together with his friend Ibrahim Çalık, first visited the Snake Castle and then made our way to the one at Anavarza. This is built on a steep cliff and only accessible from one side, the South. On the plain below lie the remains of the city of Anavarza near the Dilekkaya village. That city was founded in the 9th century BC by the Assyrians, later to become Roman and Byzantine. The castle was used as a border defense against the Arabians by the Byzantines. It was restored by the Abbasid calif Harrun Reşit, who captured the castle in 795.
In the village a Roman gate was most impressive, in the plain the remains of some more buildings are visible, but we had to move on to the castle because it was getting late in what after all was a winters’ day. The climb was along an ancient flight of stairs. Views were wonderful, and the castle itself most impressive. There is a big courtyard with the remains of a church in the first part of the castle. Then you have to do some more climbing to reach what felt like the inner castle, even higher up the hill. Here we met some people who kindly took us back to nearby Ceyhan, us travelling on to Adana. They are one of the pictures, next to one of the ancient graves around the village. A mosaic in the museum was hardly visible in the lamp light, it is similar to ones I saw in Gaziantep end Antakya. I hope to return to this most impressive spot, now that I know how to get there.
A viewer adds:
During the first crusade, the Crusaders took Anavarza (called Anazarbus at the time) in 1098. During that siege the castle on the ridge was almost completely destroyed. As the Frankish knights had no further interest in the place, it was a breeze for the Armenian Prince Thoros I to lay the hand on the city, which became his first capital. Together with Sis (now: Kozan), Anazarbus (and their respective castles) formed the backbone of the newly established Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia. Thoros I rebuilt the acropolis fortifications, not only the fortress, but extended it to a full-size fortified upper town, with impressive city walls and at least two churches. The Armenians called the place Anavarza.
The city and its castle were repeatedly under siege, and the Armenians lost them twice to the Byzantines in the following fifty years. At last, the Byzantines pulled back in 1148 and Anavarza regained its position as royal city again. A number of Armenian princes and kings were buried in the royal burial church.
When Lewon VI, the last Armenian prince on the throne, became king in 1374, his last and only possessions were Sis and Anavarza; a few months later (1375) their castles were taken by the Mamluks from Egypt. But Anavarza was of no interest to them, and the city quickly depopulated and soon was abandoned.

Correspondent: J.M.Criel, Antwerpen.
Sources: ‘Guides Bleus: Turquie’ – Edition 1986 , ‘Guide Fodor: Turquie’ - Edition 1988
& Personal Visits (1985-1999).
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