Mersin is a modern town and a busy port with palm avenues, parks, modern hotels and a good base for visiting many nearby historical sites and beaches, in the Çukurova region on the Mediterranean coast of Turkey.
It has the largest port on the Turkish Mediterranean with a free zone and many businesses of all sizes. Mersin also offers all the comforts of a modern metropole as well as all the characteristics of the Mediterranean cities.
Mersin is located on coast that has been inhabited since the 9th millennium BC. Excavations have revealed 23 levels of occupation, the earliest dating from ca. 6300 BC. In the following centuries the city became a part of many states and civilizations including the Hittites, Assyrians, Persians, Greeks, the Macedonians of Alexander the Great, Seleucids, Lagids and also Romans. In the following years came the Arabs, Egyptian Tulunids, Seljuk Turks, Mongols, Crusaders, Armenians, Mamluks, Anatolian beyliks, until the city was finally conquered by the Ottomans . In 1918 Mersin experienced an occupation by French and British troops until it was liberated by the Turkish army in 1920.
In a fast developing country, Mersin has been spreading out along the coast, with 52 floor MERTIM Tower (Turkey’s second tallest skyscraper), huge hotels, an opera house, expensive real estate near the sea or up in the hills, many other modern urban amenities and a population of roughly 850,000.
Although Mersin dates only from the 19th century, it occupies an extremly ancient site. At Mount Yumuktepe the excavations proved that there had been twelve successive settlements beginning from the Neolithic Period. The stretch of coastline near Mersin is absolutely littered with ruins, Roman from pre and just post Christ, Byzantine from the post Roman era and lots of Castles form the ages of the Crusades around 1100-1200 AD.
This province has a very wide variety of special dishes that vary from vegetarian to meat, lots of kabas of chicken, goat, lamb and beef. Fish is most delicious in this region and in the Mersin fish market you will find inexpensive fish restaurants which are really enjoyable for those who love fish and “Raki” or wine.
As for transportation, the municipality provides punctual, modern and economical bus services
Silifke, 90 kms from Mersin is on the site of the acropolis of ancient Selcucia and Colycadnos. The old bridge crossing the Goksu River, the theatre and the temple from Roman times are of interest.
To the north of Silifke there is an excellent excursion opportunity, to Uzuncaburc. The road up to the magnificent ancient site of Olba-Diocaeserela is lined with large tombs. In the ancient city there are the ruins of the Temple of Zeus, Olbius and the Temple of Tychaion, and numerous arches, theater, Byzantine church and tower.
Outside Silifke, on the road to Tasucu is the archeological museum, while further on AyaTekla is the tomb and church of St. Thecla who is the first female martyr.
Tasucu is a pleasant resort town with good accommodations and fine sandy beaches, especially the Aphrodite Beach. The harbour includes regular sea bus services to Girne in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. Between Silifke and Mersin there is the little fishing village Narlikuyu which you should not pass by without tryirig the delicious fish by the turquoise bay In Narlikuyu you can see a Roman mosaic depicting the Three Graces. Around Narlikuyu an exciting excursion is to Cennet Cehennem, (Heaven and Hell), and the Astim Dilek Caves which are deep chasms, one of which has a chapel. They are really fascinating and you will understand why they carry these names once you visit.
60 kms from Mersin, to the west is the ancient city Korykos, which is now the resort town of Kizkalesi, with sandy beaches and camping sites. There are important remains which are symbols of that region like The Castle of Korykos on the beach faces the Kizkalesi (Maiden’s Castle) which stands on an islet 200 m offshore. The two castles once used to be joined by a sea wall but now they are separated. The road from Silifke to Mersin is very enjoyable along the coast; the ancient basilicas, tombs and ruins are on one side of the road and lie beautiful coves with sandy beaches on the other. Ancient Pompeiopolis, founded by Rhodians in 700 BC, provides many remarkable ruins. The modern name of the city is Viransehir and it is 13 kms west of Mersin. At Kanlidivane you will see the ruins of the ancient city Kanytelis clinging on the sides of a deep chasm.
Tarsus is the birthplace of St. Paul. Situated on the edge of the fertile Cukurova plain in the city is middle of cedar groves. The city is also the meeting place of legendary loves Antony and Cleopatra, and there is the commemorative Cleopatra Gate. To reach St. Paul’s Cistern you pass through narrow streets of the city; the old houses on the sides will prepare for the things you will see . Then you may head for a rest by the Tarsus watedalls and shady trees. The tombs of Prophet Daniel, Lokman Hekim, a famous legendary medical doctor, are here. There are also many historical places to visit like, Cleopatras Gate, the Gozlukule, Justinians Bridge, on the Tarsus Museum.