Toprakkale Castle, locally known as Toprakkale Kalesi, lies on a hill near a village with the same name in the province of Osmaniye in Turkey.
Toprakkale is situated on a large, 65 meters high, somewhat symmetrical mound consisting of an outcrop of dark basalt and the accumulated debris of many periods of human habitation, probably dating back as early as the 2nd millennium B.C. The mound, next to the Kara Suyu stream, gives a commanding view into the junction of five major roads; the roads to Osmaniye, Iskendrun and Kadirli and 2 roads to Adana. From this location the castle has clear intervisibility with the castles of Tumlu, Anavarza, Amuda, Bodrum and Çardak.
When exactly Toprakkale Castle was built is not known. The first major building period, most probably on the remains of an earlier fortification, which gave the castle its rectangular shape, can belong to either the Arabs, Byzantines or Franks.
The castle was first mentioned as "T'il" during the First Crusade at the end of the 11th century. In 1137 it was taken by the Byzantine Emperor John II Komnenos during a campaign through Cilicia. The Armenian Baron Thoros II captured and garrisoned the castle in 1151. In May 1154 the Byzantine emperor invited Masud I, the Sultan of Konya, to attack Toprakkale, but the sultan failed to dislodge the Armenian garrison which was assisted by Frankish knights. It was recaptured by Byzantine troops under the Byzantine Emperor Manuel I Komnenos four years later.
Sometime before 1170 it again came under Armenian control. In 1185 Toprakkale Castle was ceded to the Principality of Antioch as ransom for the return of Baron Ruben. Bohemond III, Prince of Antioch, became the castle's new lord. Within nine years it was back in Armenian hands. In the first part of the 13th century the castle was known as "Thila" and considered an impressive fortified complex also known as the Royal Black Castle.
In 1266 the Mamluks successfully laid siege to Toprakkale Castle and dislodged the Armenian troops. On a number of occasions thereafter it was reoccupied by the Armenians, until it became a permanent Mamluk possession in 1337. The Mamluks are credited with the second major building period, giving the castle its present appearance. The Egyptians held it until 1491 when the Ottomans secured control of Cilicia. Thereafter it was used as a barracks and abandoned.
Toprakkale Castle is freely accessible. You will enjoy your visit through all the halls and alleys, recommended.