Baghras or Bagras Castle, locally known as Bakras Kalesi, lies on a hill above the village of Ötençay in the province of Hatay in Turkey. During the Crusader era it was known as Gaston Castle.
Baghras Castle was most probably built by the Byzantines during the 10th century. It was built on a rocky peak with steep slopes in a rather secluded valley. The castle guarded the strategic road to Antioch and the south approach to the Belen pass (also known as the Syrian Gates) through the Nur Mountains. The north approach to this pass was guarded by Trapesac Castle, 10 miles to the north.
In 1108, Baghras Castle was in the hands of the Principality of Antioch, one of the crusader states created during the First Crusade. Somewhere in the early 12th century the principality transferred the castle to the Templars as they are first mentioned as owners of the castle around 1153.
Around 1171 Baghras Castle, along with Trapesac Castle, was taken by a renegade Armenian baron; Mleh. In 1175, after the death of Mleh, the Templars regained the castle.
In 1188 the castle was taken by Saladin, the Ayyubid Sultan, who in 1190 dismantled the castle after he had learned of the approach of a large army under the Holy Roman Emperor, Frederick I Barbarossa.
In 1191 Leo II, Prince of Armenian Cilicia, took possession of the damaged castle and had it rebuilt. His possession of Baghras Castle became the source of argument between him, the Principality of Antioch and the Templars. After much negotiation, it was finally returned to the Templars in 1216.
In 1268 Antioch had fallen to Baibars, the Mamluk Sultan of Egypt. The small Templar garrison at Baghras Castle then lost heart and destroyed the castle before abandoning it. Baibars then took possession of the castle and had it repaired.
In the late 17th century Baghras Castle was abandoned.
At present the ruins of Baghras Castle are freely accessible. There are large remains of an aqueduct which supplied the castle with water from the mountains, a great hall, a church, a massive keep and lots of chambers and underground passages. This is a great castle and really a must-see in my opinion.