The western part of Mersin province -
A long shore, beaches and the blue sea
Mersin has a very long shore extending from the city centre towards the west. The coastal
plain, the border of which consists of the verdant foothills of the Taurus range, presents
different characteristics in its various areas.
At times the coastal plain disappears as the mountains extend all the way down to the sea
with steep cliffs. However in general the range of mountains is at some distance from the
shore and parallel to it and the plain meets the deep blue sea in the guise of long beaches
with fine sand.
On one side there is the blue Mediterranean and on the other banana plantations, and orange
and lemon groves, through which streams originating from the mountains flow into the sea.
Beyond them there are the forests on the foothills.
The beach resorts begin with Erdemli, which by now has become part of the urban expansion
of Mersin and end at Anamur, on the border with the province of Antalya. All along this
shore there are no polluting industries. For miles and miles after the end of the urban
landscape, orchards and vegetable gardens are the undisputed masters of the land. The sea
seems to be reserved for fishing boats and yachts and of course the ferries sailing towards
Cyprus. Ports, marinas and pleasant inlets are full of fishing boats.
One must not forget the protected giant sea turtles known as Caretta caretta and the cute
Mediterranean seals, known as Monacus monacus.
In addition, there is a rich architectural history inherited from ancient Kilikia: cities and their
walls, forts and their bastions, and churches and monasteries.
Also elements of the traditions of the first Turkish tribes that came to the area have survived.
Kanlıdivane (Kanytelleis, Neapolis)
The reason why this ancient city has been called Kanlıdivane (bloody suffering) is based on
the belief that in ancient times convicts used to be thrown down a deep gully in the area, to
be devoured by savage beasts.
There are the Kanyteleis - Neapolis ruins on the 15th kilometre of the road leading to Silifke,
in the Ayaş area, at a distance from the centre of Mersin of 45 kilometres. A three kilometre-
long paved road leads to the ancient city. This road was first built by the ancient Romans.
This archaeological site, which became known in the Western world during the 19th century,
was established around a large depression of the land as the sacred site of the Kingdom of
Olba. Later, in 408 AD , the Byzantine Emperor Theodosius II rebuilt this site as a city and
named it Neapolis (New City). The city experienced its most glorious years during the 5th
The impressive necropolis of Eliaussa – Sebaste
The city was founded during the Late Hellenistic Period (second and first centuries B.C.).
The city lived through its most glorious period during Roman and early Christian times. Its
natural harbour and fertile agricultural lands gave the city advantages that brought about its
development and its wealth.
The city was established on a hilly peninsula and later expanded towards inland. The period
of peace that began after Pompeius eliminated the danger of pirates favoured the
development of the city. However, the most important factor in the development of the city
was the fact that the city was ceded to the Cappadocian king Archelaos, during the reign of
Emperor Augustus, and that consequently the king moved here. As a sign of his gratitude
and loyalty to Augustus, Archelaos renamed the city Sebaste.
The most interesting place of this archaeological site is its vast cemetery. The great
necropolis that nowadays is surrounded by lemon groves is one of the best preserved
necropolises of Anatolia. The cemetery and its monumental tombs occupy a vast area.
There are family tombs in the shape of houses or temples, sarcophagi that are simple or that
are placed on pedestals, dug out tombs in the shape of a niche and chamasoria (sarcophagi
dug out in rocks) and many more tombs in various shapes.
Some of these imposing tombs ended up being used as dwellings. Even nowadays some are
used as stables or barns. As a result of continuous and inappropriate usage, their external
decorations consisting of paintings or sculptures have disappeared. All the same these tombs
show us how rich the city grew as a result of its agricultural and commercial activities.