ANAZARBUS was an ancient CILICIAN city, situated in ANATOLIA, in modern Turkey ( in Turkish : ANAVARZA), about 15km west of the mainstream of the present CEYHAN River (or classical PYRAMUS River) and near its tributary the SEMPAS SU.

A lofty isolated ridge formed its Acropolis.  Though some of the masonry in the ruins is certainly pre-Roman, its identification with CYINDA, famous as a treasure city in the wars of EUMENES of CARDIA, cannot be accepted in the face of STRABO’S express location of CYINDA in Western CILICIA.
It was founded by Assyrians.  Under the early Roman Empire, the place was known as CAESAREA, and was the metropolis of CILICIA SECUNDA.  It was the home of the poet OPPIAN.  Rebuilt by Emperor Justin -1, after an earthquake in the 6th century, it became JUSTINOPOLIS (525), but the old native name persisted, and when THOROS -1, King of Lesser Armenia, made it his capital early in the 12th century, it was known as ANAZARVA.

Anazarbus scenery

Its great natural strength and situation, not far from the mouth of SIS PASS and near the great road which debouched from the CILICIAN GATES, made ANAZARBUS play a considerable part in the struggles between the Byzantine Empire and the early Muslim invaders.  The MAMLUK Empire of Egypt destroyed the city in 1374.

The present wall of the lower city is of a late construction.  It encloses a mass of ruins conspicuous in which are a fine TRIUMPHAL ARCH, the Colonnades of two streets and a gymnasium.  A stadium and a theatre lie outside the walls to the south.  The remains of the Acropolis fortifications are very interesting, including the roads and ditches hewn in the rock, and there are the ruins of two churches and a gatehouse.  There are no notable structures in the upper town.  For picturesqueness the site is not equalled in CILICIA, and it is worthwhile to trace the three fine aqueducts to their sources.  A NECROPOLIS, on the escarpment to the south of the walls, can also be seen complete with signs of illegal modern excavations.


A visit in December 2002, showed that the three aqueducts have been nearly completely destroyed.  Only small isolated sections are left standing with the largest portion lying in a pile of rubble that stretches the length of where the aqueducts once stood.  A powerful earthquake that struck the area in 1945 is thought to be responsible for the destruction.

A modest Turkish farming village (DILEKKAYA) lies to the southwest of the ancient city.  A small outdoor museum with some of the artefacts collected in the area can be viewed for a small fee.  Also nearby are some beautiful mosaics discovered in a farmer’s field.
ANAZARBUS / ANAVARZA was one of a chain of Armenian fortifications stretching through CILICIA.  SIS CASTLE lies to the north, while TUMLU KALE (TUMLU CASTLE) lies to the southwest and AMOUDA CASTLE lies to the southeast.

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  1. Pingback: Anazarbus | oshriradhekrishnabole

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