Misis (Mopsuestia), Turkey
Eastwards from Adana the road to Iskenderun crosses the Cilician Plain (Çukurova), to arrive after about 25km/15mi at Misis (Yakapinar), the site of ancient Mopsuestia. The town extends on both banks of the Ceyhan, here spanned by a nine-arched Roman bridge. The main feature of interest in Misis is the Mosaic Museum, erected over the mosaic pavement of a small church, the latter having presumably been destroyed during the Arab incursions of the eighth century. The mosaics, built up from pieces of variously colored stone and glass, date from the time of Bishop Theodore (fourth century)
About 11km/7mi east of Misis, on the steep southern bank of the Ceyhan, a figure of the Hittite king Muwatalli (1315-1282 B.C.) can be seen carved into a smooth rock face rising above the river. On the top of a steep-sided crag on the north bank stands Yilanlikale ("Snake's Castle"), an Armenian stronghold and Crusader castle of the 12th century. According to legend it was the residence of Sheikh Meran, half man, half snake, who was killed in the baths at Tarsus while seeking to carry off the king's daughter.
The main road from Adana continues from Yilanlikale to the chief town of the district Ceyhan (a short distance off the road to the right), some 35km/22mi south of which, on the Gulf of Iskenderun, lies the little port of Yumurtalik (previously called Ayas). In Marco Polo's time it was known as Layaze and was once the chief port of Lesser Armenia. In addition to being a seaside resort popular with the local people, it is now the terminus of two oil pipelines from Iraq.
Toprakkale Pass (Toprakkale)
About 27km/17mi east of Ceyhan the road to Iskenderun branches off to the right over the Toprakkale Pass. Describing Darius' march along this route through the foothills of Mount Amanos and the Misis Hills, the second century historian Arrian refers to the 2km/1.25mi-long defile between sheer rock walls 40-50m/130-165ft high as the Amanian Gates (Amaniae Pylae). Just off the Osmaniye road to the north, on a steep-sided basaltic cone some 76m/250ft high, are the conspicuous remains of a medieval settlement, possibly built on the site of ancient Augusta.
Along the Osmaniye road beyond the Toprakkale Pass, a side turning branches off on the left to Karatepe (Black Hill), some 28km/17mi north on the right bank of the Ceyhan Nehri. Excavated from 1949 onwards, the site has been extensively restored.Karatepe was the walled stronghold of an eighth century Hittite ruler called Azitawadda. The two main gates, on the north and south sides, are flanked by massive sphinxes while reliefs on the sills depict various gods, battle and hunting scenes, a ship with oarsmen, etc. There are two parallel inscriptions, one in Hittite hieroglyphic script, the other in Phoenician; these proved a valuable starting point for deciphering the hieroglyphic script. Little survives of the buildings within the town.
From Sakarcali (on the Ceyhan, 30km/19mi south of Kadirli) a track follows the river to Hamide and, 70m/330ft above the village, the medieval Armenian castle of Amuda. In 1212 the Lesser Armenian King Leon I handed over the fortress with its massive keep and large courtyard to the Knights of the German Order. They built the tower, continuing in occupation (at Akkon's behest) until about 1291 (no later). Down at river level below the south side of the fortress can be seen the poorly preserved remains of a Hittite rock relief. Carved in the 13th century B.C. it shows a warrior armed with a bow and lance.