Çandır Castle

Çandır Castle

Çandır Castle, locally known as Çandır Kalesi, lies on a mountain north of a village with the same name, in the province of Mersin in Turkey. The medieval Armenian name of the castle is Paperōn/Barbaron.

Çandır Castle was first built by the Byzantines, possibly even dating as far back as the 5th century. If so, it was the fortification were the Byzantine Emperor Zeno sought refuge in 475/6.

In the 3rd quarter of the 11th century many Armenian nobles in the regions north and east of Van fled the Seljuk invaders and settled in this region called Cilicia where they would create an Armenian kingdom which would last until the late 14th century. The castle of Çandır was also taken over by them from the Byzantines and the Armenian governor Abul-Gharib Arsruni maintained it as his treasury. He later died here and was buried in the castle.

By the late 11th century Çandır would become one of the main seats, together with Lampron Castle, of a great Armenian family; the Hethumids. Only in 1329 the castle would become a royal possession. In the mid-14th century it was briefly occupied by the Karamanids, a Turkish principality. In the late 14th century it was definitely conquered by the Mamluks and probably became a headquarter of a district. After that the castle disappears from the historical records.

The castle was built on a lofty, somewhat triangular, plateau at the summit of a limestone mountain in the Taurus Mountains, at an altitude of 1.450 m. The sides of the plateau consist of almost vertical cliffs. Since this natural defense was impregnable, defensive walls or towers were not needed. The walls at the edge of the summit functioned more as revetments. Access to the plateau was through a winding staircase cut into a cliff on the east side of the mountain.

The main building remnants on the summit are the ruins of a church, dating back to the mid-13th century, and a beautiful ruined 2-storey residence. There is also a modern ruined building somewhat in the center of the plateau which once served as the residence of a fire warden for the Turkish Ministry of Forestry.

At present Çandır Castle can freely be visited. You will however definitely need a 4WD because there are only unpaved mountain roads leading to foot the castle mountain. The shortest will still take over 40 minutes of driving. To enter the castle you will have to find the entrance of the staircase cut into the east side of the mountain. So it may be quite of the beaten path but a visit is very much worth it.


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Çandır Castle

Çandır Castle

Çandır Castle, locally known as Çandır Kalesi, lies on a mountain north of a village with the same name, in the province of Mersin in Turkey. The medieval Armenian name of the castle is Paperōn/Barbaron.

Çandır Castle was first built by the Byzantines, possibly even dating as far back as the 5th century. If so, it was the fortification were the Byzantine Emperor Zeno sought refuge in 475/6.

In the 3rd quarter of the 11th century many Armenian nobles in the regions north and east of Van fled the Seljuk invaders and settled in this region called Cilicia where they would create an Armenian kingdom which would last until the late 14th century. The castle of Çandır was also taken over by them from the Byzantines and the Armenian governor Abul-Gharib Arsruni maintained it as his treasury. He later died here and was buried in the castle.

By the late 11th century Çandır would become one of the main seats, together with Lampron Castle, of a great Armenian family; the Hethumids. Only in 1329 the castle would become a royal possession. In the mid-14th century it was briefly occupied by the Karamanids, a Turkish principality. In the late 14th century it was definitely conquered by the Mamluks and probably became a headquarter of a district. After that the castle disappears from the historical records.

The castle was built on a lofty, somewhat triangular, plateau at the summit of a limestone mountain in the Taurus Mountains, at an altitude of 1.450 m. The sides of the plateau consist of almost vertical cliffs. Since this natural defense was impregnable, defensive walls or towers were not needed. The walls at the edge of the summit functioned more as revetments. Access to the plateau was through a winding staircase cut into a cliff on the east side of the mountain.

The main building remnants on the summit are the ruins of a church, dating back to the mid-13th century, and a beautiful ruined 2-storey residence. There is also a modern ruined building somewhat in the center of the plateau which once served as the residence of a fire warden for the Turkish Ministry of Forestry.

At present Çandır Castle can freely be visited. You will however definitely need a 4WD because there are only unpaved mountain roads leading to foot the castle mountain. The shortest will still take over 40 minutes of driving. To enter the castle you will have to find the entrance of the staircase cut into the east side of the mountain. So it may be quite of the beaten path but a visit is very much worth it.


Gallery