Yılankale (Snake Castle)


Yılankale is an important part of the chain of castles in Adana. Along the vast plains of Çukurova the hills were rare and castles for communication and security were built on those hills. All of the castles such as Anavarza Castle, Kozan Castle, Tumlu Castle and Yılankale  can see each other by rising like an island on the plain. For example, news of a ship docking in Ayas (Yumurtalık) port can be transmitted from castle to castle within minutes.

Yılankale is in a position dominating the Silk Road, which starts from Gülek and extends to the east through the Amanos Mountains. Again, it overlooks the Ceyhan River with its 3 fronts. Although it is claimed that its name comes from Şeyh Meran, who raised snakes here, it is also claimed that it is called Snake Castle or Snake Castle due to its curved shape. (Yılan means snake in Turkish)  Evliya Çelebi stated in his Travel Book that it was called Şahmeran Castle.

It is difficult to determine exactly by whom Yılankale was built. Because various civilizations have built castles on the rare plains in Çukurova for security and communication purposes. In this way, both the cost of castle construction was reduced and the walls and towers were made more durable. Over time, as new states conquered Çukurova, each of them made new additions and repairs on these castles. The Mamluk State, which conquered Çukurova last, made additions here with its own styles. Since the castle was abandoned during the Ottoman period, the architectural style of the castle bears the traces of the Mamluks, who made the final repairs here.

Yılankale Story & Legend

When Yılankale is mentioned, Şahmeran should also be mentioned. Şahmeran, one of the important motifs of Çukurova culture, is represented as a creature with a human body and a snake shape. With her head in the appearance of a very beautiful woman, she represents beauty and goodness, with her snake-shaped body, ugliness and evil.

A young man named Cemşab is imprisoned in a well as a result of the betrayal of his friends. While trying to get rid of the well by digging around, he reaches the place where Şahmeran reigns underground. Şahmeran loves Cemşab very much and treats him well. In time, Cemşab wants to return to the earth again and asks Şahmeran's permission. Şahmeran releases Cemşab after making him swear not to tell anyone about his place. After a while, the vizier's daughter becomes ill and Sahmeran's blood is needed for her recovery. Cemşab does not give his secret to anyone, but the vizier wants to check all the people in the bath and find the person who has scales on his body and therefore sees Şahmeran. Thus, it is understood that Cemşab knows the location of Şahmeran. Although Cemşab resists for a long time, he is deceived by the latest promises of wealth and tells the vizier where Şahmeran is. Şahmeran tells Cemşab to boil his body and make the vizier drink the water of his tail, to make the vizier's daughter drink the water of his body, and to drink the water of his head himself. Thus, the vizier dies, his daughter recovers, and Cemşab acquires knowledge of medicine and becomes famous as Lokman Physician. Şahmeran still wants to hide that he is dead because if the snakes hear that he is dead, they will invade Çukurova.

The saying, "Adana will go away from the flood, Ceyhan from the wind, Misis from the snake", which is very common in Yaşar Kemal's books, also points to this situation.

According to another legend, there were many snakes feeding on milk in Yılankale, and one day these snakes would be without milk and would go down to the plain and bite the people living there.

Where is Yılankale? Directions Information. How to Get to the Ancient City?

Yılankale is 13 km from Ceyhan and 47 km from Adana. Yılankale is 3 km from the main road on the Adana-Ceyhan road, E-5 highway. You can go by private vehicle or if you want to go by public transport, Adana-Ceyhan vehicles should be preferred.

At the foot of the castle, there is the opportunity to eat & drink by watching the scenery in an establishment overlooking the Ceyhan River. We recommend you to see this historical value, which can be reached in a short time due to its close proximity to Adana Center, in the cool of the afternoon. The endless view of Çukurova and Ceyhan River will impress you. In Misis, which is located close to here, you should also try the famous ayran and sıkma a local food.

Entry to Yılankale is free.

Places to be seen around Yılankale:

Misis Bridge: 16 km

Kurtkulagi Caravanserai: 30 km

Anavarza Ancient City: 37 km