Updated:
7-nov-2011



I visited this castle in 2010.

Lampron Castle, locally known as Namrun Kalesi, lies on a small mountain in the village of Camliyayla in the province of Mersin in Turkey.

Like many castles in the mountainous landscape of the former Kingdom of Armenia, Lampron is a spur castle. It was built, covering an area approximately 330 by 150 meters, on an outcrop of limestone, that projects from the southern tip of the Bulgar Dagi mountain. It is conveniently situated at the intersection of three highland valleys and has a commanding view to the north and to the south. There is a drop of more than 50 meters from the side of the hill to the river valley below.

The castle is divided in a lower and an upper ward. The upper ward is accessible only via rock-cut stairs, and through a narrow turning entrance passage. Many of the buildings in the inner ward have collapsed into rubble, but one building, consisting of a bastion an a hall, probably used as a chapel, is still standing

The first fortification at this site was probably a Greek outpost which was later used by the Arabs.

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 Cilicia. One of these was Oshin, an Armenian Lord. He was given the fief of Lampron by his father-in-law Apllarip Acruni, an Armenian king who had been made governor of Tarsus by the Byzantine emperor Alexios I Komnenos.

Oshin's son, Hethum II, gave his name to the dynasty of the Hethumids that was to reign from Lampron through the 14th century. In 1171, 1176, and 1182 the Rubenids, another great Cilician family, failed to capture Lampron Castle by direct assault and long-term siege because of its impregnable nature.

Around 1198/99, Leo I, a member of the Rubenids, was coronated as King of Armenia and Hethum visited not as a vassal but as the autonomous Lord of Lampron. In 1201, King Leo finally used the subterfuge of marrying his niece to one of the Hethumid barons in order to draw the Hethumid knights to the wedding feast at Tarsus. During the feast Leo's forces overran Lampron Castle. Afterwards Leo gave the castle to his mother for her summer residence.

In the early 1230's the baron of Lampron, Constantine, made an alliance with the Sultan of Konya. In 1245 Constantine even joined Kaykhusraw II, sultan of the Seljuks of Rum, and fought against King Hethum I. They lost and Constantine was executed in 1250 for his high treason. Lampron Castle was seldom referred to after the death of Constantine.

In 1309/10 Lampron Castle functioned briefly as the prison for the Lusignan King of Cyprus, Henry II. Sometime in the late 14th century a Mamluk garrison occupied the outcrop.

Lampron Castle is freely accessible. A mountain-top castle on a great location. Because of its location, in the Taurus mountains, the village below the castle, Camliyayla (also known as Namrun), is a popular summer resort for people wanting to escape the scorching summer heat of the plains.

A plan of Lampron Castle taken from 'The Fortifications of Armenian Cilicia' by RW. Edwards.

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