Saturday, May 25, 2013

Baghras Castle

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The Chapel Wall and five window openings.  This castle was built by the Byzantines in the 10th century and guarded the road to Antioch.

Only at Baghras Castle are there substantial remains of Templar building (1)  Here a rocky knoll is encircled and crowned by fortifications on two levels.  The fabric is of small coarse rubble and there are rounded towers and corners, very much in the Armenian style but quite unlike other known Templar work, and a fine enclosed defensive gallery with arrow slits on the lower level.  The Knights built two large well-lit halls as was their custom.  The Castle is compact and craggy and was to become a major political issue.  It was retaken from the Muslims in 1191, not by the Crusaders of Antioch but by the Armenians, and their possession of this outpost so close to Antoch itself soured the relations between these two Christian powers for most of the early 13th century intil it, like Antioch, fell into Batbar's hands in 1268 (2).

(1) Muller-Wiener, Castles, 48-49, R. Edwards, 'Bagras and Cilician Armenia', Revue des Etudes Armeniennes, ns.17 (1983), 415-455; Sinclair, EasternTurkey IV, 266-271;

(2) Hugh Kennedy, "Crusader Castles," (Cambridge Univer. Press -- 1995), P. 143-144.

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