Mersin, located on the East Mediterranean coast, is an important port city. The length of the beach of Mersin is approximately 108 km. This province is an outstanding tourism region of Turkey with its sandy beaches like Kulakkoy, Tasucu, Susanoglu, Kurucay, Lamas, Yemiskumu, the Maiden Castle, Cesmeli, Oren, Balikova, Iskele, Yenikas, Ovacik, Big Eceli, and Anamur; its modern hotels and its historical assets.
The ancient name of the city, which was changed as Icel in the year of 1933, was Zephyrium. We have limited archeological documents and information related to the city called as Zephyrium, accepted as the antique settlement of Mersin. The name of the city appears in the sources containing the observations of the western travelers of the 19th century. It was stated that the name Mersin originated from the Mersin tree. Second point of view is that the name is due to the Turcoman rooted Mersinogullari who established a village in this region.
The most important evidence, which shows that the history of Mersin dates back to the Neolithic Ages, is the Yumuktepe Tumulus 3 km northeast to the city. The layers here continued without interruption from the Neolithic Age to the Islamic times. In addition to the information in the Yumuktepe Tumulus, the collective history of the Mediterranean and the neighborhood of Mersin throw a light on the history of the city. Accordingly, the city lived through the ages of the Hittite, the Cilicia, the Assyria, the Synnesis, the Dorians, the Persians, Alexander the Great, the Seleukhos Kingdom, the Roman Empire, and the Byzantine rule; and it was captured by the Anatolian Seljuk, the Mongols, and the Mameluke in the 13th century. In the period of the Anatolian Beyliks (beylik is a tribal organization, ruled by a chief). The city lived successively the sovereignty of the Karamanid and the Ramazanogullari (1353- 1378). At the end, it was added finally to the Ottoman domain by Yavuz Sultan Selim in 1516. The son of the Kavalali Mehmet Ali Pasha, Ibrahim Pasha occupied the city at the beginning of the 19th century, but he had to give back the city to the Ottomans with the Kutahya Treaty, in 1839. Mersin became a sub-district in 1852, a county in 1864, and the center of a Sanjak in 1888. Lastly, the city was subjected to the French and the Armenian occupation between the years of 1918- 1922.
The Mersin City and its environment with their places to visit present various alternatives to people who are interested in history, archeology, and nature. The ancient Pompeipolis City is 10 km southwest to Mersin, near to Mezitli and the seashore. In the anterior Roman times history; the city has in its history the names of the Rhodesians or the Seleukhosians. The oldest name of the city, ruled for some time by the pirates, was Soloi (the sun). Instead of the destructed city, Pompeipolis was established again at the same place by the Roman General Pompeus in 1st century BC. After that time, the city was called as Pompeipolis resembling its founder. Pompeipolis, which turned to the patriarchate center during the Byzantine era, collapsed due to a huge earthquake, and soon after was abandoned by people. The historical Pompeipolis is called today as Viransehir. Some of the remains like waterways, the public bath, the necropolis, the temple, and the theatre are still in good-condition today.
Dikilitas is northeast to Mersin, and between the Dikilitas Village and Mersin. It was put up by the Assyrian King Aszurbanipal on the old Roman road in 7th century BC.
Baths with Mosaics are 4 km east to Mersin, in the Karaduvar Village, they belong to the Roman times and there is a ruin of a bath adorned with mosaics. It can be seen even the pieces of the marble basin in the bath. The other bath ruin is the one near to Narlikaya.
The Ottoman buildings in Mersin date back to the 19th century. The oldest mosque among the other ones is called Eski Cami (the Old Mosque), was constructed in the name of the Mother Sultan Bezm-i Alem, the mother of Sultan Abdulmecid, in 1870, and restored at various times. The mosque was planned perpendicularly. The Mother Sultan Bezm-i Alem Fountain is located on the southwestern corner of the mosque, dates back to the Sultan Abdulaziz period, precisely to 1861. The Mufti Mosque, close to the Mufti Bridge, was built as a mosque and the madrasah in 1884. In convenience with the Ottoman architecture, the Baroque adorn are outstanding. The Ulu Mosque was built at the time of the reign of Sultan Abdulhamit II, in 1898. Later on, the mosque was destructed, and instead of it today existing great mosque with its three storeys was constructed. Tahtali Mosque, the other mosque, built in 1898, was known also as the Avniye Mosque. Built in 1913, The Harda Bath and the Big Bath, which is in the city center, aren’t used today.
Arslankoy, Belenkeslik, Candir, Dumbelek, Evciler, Gozne, Hebilli, and Tirmil Castles were established as the garrison duty, the observation point or the settlement. Most of these castles date back to the Byzantine or the Cilicia Armenian Kingdom times.
Italian Catholic Cathedral Church was built upon the demand of the Sultan Abdulmecid in the city, in the year of 1853. The collection of buildings including the clock tower was finished in 1898. The church is open for worship. The Arabian Orthodox Church dates back to 1878 and is open for worship, too.
Mersin Museum; is the most important point during the sightseeing. The archeological and ethnographical artifacts are exhibited in three separate galleries. In the first gallery, marble human heads, statues, stone artifacts like steles and amphora, and the tombs made by using fired clay (Terracotta) and found in the ancient city Pompeipolis are exhibited. In the second gallery, the artifacts, which belong to the Neolithic, the Chalcolithic, and the Old Bronze Ages, obtained from the excavations in some of the oldest settlements of the Anatolia, Yumuktepe and Gozlukule are exhibited. Besides, some objects of the Hellenistic, the Roman and the Byzantine periods are in the second gallery, too. The ethnographic artifacts of the museum collection are displayed in this gallery, on the third floor. It’s possible to see silver ornaments, women clothes embroidered, peskirs (a kind of cotton towel), furniture out of wood and copper, rugs, amulets, or guns, daggers, and powder flasks in this section. In addition to these, there are stone artifacts belonging various ages in the museum courtyard.
Besides, a house remained from the 19th century was restored in 1997 and Icel Art Gallery of State began to serve in 2002. The Ataturk monument in Mersin was sculptured by Kenan Yontuc in 1944.
Organized regularly the scheduled ship service to the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, Mersin has the outstanding characteristic of being an important trade and industrial city developed in export. Nowadays, Mersin has advanced in being one of the major cities of the Mediterranean with its free trade zones. The International Festival and Fair of Mersin is annually organized in the months of September and October in the city.
We suggest that you taste cezerye, peppered bread, and tantuni special to the region during sightseeing in Mersin. Besides, you can eat many kinds of fresh fish for reasonable prices. Zahter, a specie special to the area, is mostly eaten in the breakfasts. Carpets and rugs weaved in the environment of Mersin, and various handicraft works are presented for the appreciation of tourists. Ulu Bazaar, established by the Ulu Mosque, is two storied, and has jewelers and stores in it. Feeding the pigeons, which live crowded with the artisans in the middle of the Ulu Bazaar, can add to your Mersin tour different colors.
In addition to Silifke and Tarsus, Mersin has other counties like Anamur, Aydincik, Bozkaya, Camliyayla, Erdemli, Gulnar, and Mut which have contributions to the tourism of Turkey.www.mersin.gov.tr www.mersin.bel.tr