Yılankale in 2011
|Location||Mersin Province, Turkey|
|Builder||Leo I, King of Armenia|
Yılankale ("Castle of the Snakes"), also known as Levonkla (Armenian: Լևոնկլա "the castle of Levon") is a medieval castle located east of Adana in modern Turkey, built on a rocky hill overlooking the east bank of the Ceyhan river by Cilician Armenian king Leo (Levon) I. Its medieval name is unknown - the current name "Castle of the Snakes" is either due to a Turkish legend in which it belongs to the king of the snakes (Youngs 1965) and its construction and use are associated with Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia (Boase, p. 185). The castle contains many manuscripts in Armenian libraries about this castle.
The castle and its impressive towers are visible from the highway E5 from Adana to Iskenderun. Yılankale is one of many castles in the Çukurova region. It was built in the 11th or the 12th century by the Armenians and was also most likely used by the Crusaders .
Yilan has a lower, middle and upper ward enclosed by curtain walls. The upper ward has seven horseshoe-shaped towers, up to 15 m in height, projecting from the curtain wall. The gate to the upper ward is flanked by two towers with a gatehouse containing the bent entrance between them. (Youngs 1965). The upper gate can only be reached via a narrow ramp. The castle also contains a chapel and cisterns.
The horseshoe-shaped towers projecting from the curtain wall are characteristic of Armenian castle architecture (Molin 2001), as is the absence of a central donjon. Like many mountain Armenian castles, Yilan makes good use of the local topography for its defence. Its walls closely follow the top of the rock on which the castle is located.
Comparable castles include:
- Adalian, Rouben Paul (2010). Historical Dictionary of Armenia. Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press. p. 90. ISBN 978-0-8108-7450-3.
- Sarkissian, H. G. (1989). "Միքայել Վ. Հովհաննեսյան, Հայկական Կիլիկիո բերդերն ու բերդաքաղաքները [Mikael V. Hovhannisian, Fortress, city-fortress of Cilicia Armenia]". Patma-Banasirakan Handes (in Armenian) (Yerevan: Armenian National Academy of Sciences) (11): 92–93.
- The Cilician Kingdom of Armenia by T.S.R. Boase et al., Edinburgh : Scottish Academic Press, 1978, ISBN 9780707301457
- Unknown crusader castles by Kristian Molin, Hambledon Continuum, 2001
- "Three Cilician Castles" by G. R. Youngs. Anatolian Studies, Vol. 15, (1965), pp. 113–134. Published by: British Institute at Ankara. Stable URL: