yilan"Snake Castle" is clearly visible perched high up on a rock to the east of the road when you're travelling north from Adana to Kozan or Kadirli.

It's a wonderful sight although it can't perhaps quite match Kozan Kale for sheer, awe-inspiring drama. On the other hand you're more likely to be able to imagine climbing up to the castle than you are at Kozan. 

Yılankale is one of a chain of castles that were built on seemingly every lofty location in this corner of Turkey. Most can trace their origins back to Roman times although they've been rebuit over and over again down the centuries (and even today they're being rebuilt again even though there is no longer the slightest justification for so doing). 

The "final" versions of the castles were probably established by the Armenians in the 12th century during the years of the Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia, and its quite likely that they provided models for some of the better known Crusader castles of the Levent. They seem to have lost their raison d'etre in the 14th century when the Mamluks took control of the entire area.

The castle's name appears to have more to do with a legend associating it was the Şahmeran, the mythical king (or queen) of the snakes, than with any danger of a confrontation with any living snakes. In any case when I visited in May 2014 you couldn't actually get inside the castle. Building work was going on which may improve access to the site. Hopefully it will not result in damage to what are still very sturdy-looking walls. yilan1

There's a restaurant in the lee of the castle. It's no great beauty architecturally but does offer magnificent views over the flat plain below and the Ceyhan river winding across it. In spring fields of sunflowers cast a golden glow over the outlook. 

Transport info

The castle is 3km east of the Adana/Ceyhan-Kozan/Kadirli road. A road runs to the top of the hill so you can drive up if you don't fancy walking. 

Frequent buses and minibuses plow up and down the main road although demand for seats is heavy and the drivers seem reluctant to take passengers who are not travelling from one end of the route to the other. They leave from the Yüreğir local bus station in Adana.


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