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Aydincik / Kelenderis

“Go there and unload your ship, you will sell everything.” Strabon

Aydıncık, between Silifke - Taşucu and Bozyazı - Anamur has always been a port, from ancient until recent times.

There is no precise information concerning the founders and founding dates of this town, nestled in a small plain between the mountains and the sea.

Before being named Aydıncık it was known as Gilindire, which is thought to derive from ancient Kelenderis.

The county has a 38 km. long coast, but in places the mountains are so close to the sea that the seashore cannot be reached from the land.

Its best beach is İncekum at the foot of Tülüce Hill. At the Nazilli area of its Central District, there is a small beach that ends in a rocky coast.

To the south of the pier there is a promontory with an altitude of 25 metres and a length of 200 metres. The promontory has been artificially lengthened to create a fishermen’s refuge. This shelter is suitable not just for the fishing boats, but also for the yachts that come to the area.

At the point of the promontory there is also a lighthouse.

A little further on there is the Soğuksu Stream that provides Aydıncık with its irrigation and drinking water. The stream flows into a nice inlet.

The port city of Kelenderis
The ancient city of Kelenderis managed to maintain its independence for a long time. It lived through a glorious period between the 5th and 4th centuries B.C., notwithstanding Persian domination.

It lived through its second golden period during Roman times, when the pirates had been defeated and the security of Mediterranean commerce was established. Kelenderis also continued being a port during medieval times. It was an important port on the trading route between the Anatolian landmass, and Cyprus and Africa, during Byzantine, then Seljuk and finally Ottoman times, up to the very beginning of the 20th century. It began to lose its position from the 19th century onwards as the importance of the port of Mersin increased.

The coins and ceramic ware found at Kelenderis are considered very important for Mediterranean archaeology. Bowls with black firnis (a transparent surface coating, which is applied as a liquid and then changes to a hard solid) and lekythoses from Attica are among the most important findings.

The fact that in Kelenderis amphorae from places as far away as Phoenicia and Taşoz were found shows that this port had trading relations with many cities.

There are very few buildings of Kelenderis to have survived to our days even though the city was settled uninterruptedly for many centuries.

The bath at the port: The bath at the entrance of the port is one of the ancient buildings to have survived, even if only partially. Three main halls have survived. It clearly was a big building. A mosaic of the port from the 5th century AD provides us with information about the bath. During the enlargement of the Mersin – Antalya highway, part of the bath was demolished.

The theatre: The theatre is completely buried, but surface and sounding studies have been done. In later excavations Roman elements were found.

The Kelenderis Mosaic – The oldest city plan of the world
Probably the most exciting of the findings in Kelenderis is a mosaic known as the “Kelenderis Mosaic”.

This mosaic is probably the oldest city plan. In the mosaic, buildings that might be a shipyard are visible. Excavations have come up with findings that might be related to this shipyard.

The fact that the mosaic is very well preserved is very nice. However not all of it has been found and excavations to find the rest of the mosaic, which is thought to have been made in the 5th century, are proceeding.

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