Anavarza Castle (Turkey)
Mediterranean Region See list of castles in Turchia
Castle Anavarza, known locally as Anavarza Kalesi, is located on a mountain near the village of Dilekkaya in the province of Adana in Turkey.
Anavarza castle was built on 200-meter outcrop of limestone majestic tall and has light intervisibility with Yilan castles, Toprakkale, Amuda, Tumlu and Sis. The river Sombaz Çay flows over the eastern flank of the spur before joining with the river Ceyhan. The entire west side of the spur consists of nearly vertical cliffs. Under the west side is the site of the ancient city of Anazarbus of which not much remains.
The first fortification on this site would be the acropolis of Anazarbus. The city prospered during the 1st century. In the following centuries it was renamed and later Justinopolis Justinianopolis. In the second half of the 7th century Arab invasions devastated the city and left abandoned until it was resettled en masse by the Abbasids. In 796 AD the site was refortified by the Abbasid caliph, Harun al-Rashid (who also built the Haruniye Castle). During the 9th century the site was raided several times by the Byzantines. The raid in 855 AD caused so much devastation that the site had to be reconstructed by the Caliph al-Mutawakkil.
In 962 the city was brutally conquered by the Byzantine Emperor Nicephorus II Phocas. The Byzantines then repaired the defenses and a Byzantine garrison in the castle. In late 1097 or early 1098 the Castle Anavarza was captured by the armies of the First Crusade and was later incorporated into Bohemond The Principality of Antioch.
Around 1110 the castle was taken by Anavarza Thoros I, Lord of Armenian Cilicia and member of Rubenid family. In 1114 the castle was rebuilt after a devastating earthquake. In 1137 the castle was taken after a 37-day siege by the Byzantine Emperor John II Comnenus during a campaign in which he re-occupied Cilicia. Over the following decades, ownership of the castle changed hands between the Armenians and Byzantines a couple of times.
At the end of the 12th century the castle, finally, was an Armenian possession. The castle served as the administrative center of the Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia. The tower was repaired around 1187-1188 by Leo I, King of Armenia. Within a few years the administrative center of the Armenian kingdom was moved north from Castle to Castle Anavarza Sis.
The first of the Mamluk raids on Castle Anavarza occurred in 1270. Armenians have been permanently removed from the castle in 1374. For most of the 15th century, a Mamluk garrison was stationed at the castle.
Castle Anavarza consists of 2 Baileys; a large outdoor rectangular courtyard to the south and a smaller and more narrow internal courtyard to the north. The entrance to the courtyard is guarded by a square keep at the narrowest part of the spur.
Anavarza castle is freely accessible. Ruins of a fairy-tale castle in a great location, recommended. If you are there you can also visit the sit of the ancient city.