One of the lesser-known provinces of Turkey, Mersin has an astounding amount of historical sites, which stand as testimony for the many civilizations that inhabited its plains throughout the centuries. From stunning castles to the remnants of once flourishing ancient cities, exploring Mersin is a dream for history buffs.
The rulers of the Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia built this amazing castle, located on the Mediterranean coast, using the foundation of an already existent Roman structure constructed in the 4th century. A sturdy protector against pirates, the castle was enlarged by the Seljuk Turks and changed hands numerous times until it was annexed by the Ottoman Empire in 1469.
The Canbazlı ruins, located in the village of Canbazlı, are composed of mausoleums, rock tombs, and cisterns. However, the most striking of all the remains is a mysterious basilica that dates back to the early Byzantine era in the 5th century.
Quite the sight from the shore, Kızkalesi (Maiden’s Castle) is on a small island, and experts believe it was built during the Byzantine Empire. The structure was developed further during the Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia, and by 1471, the Ottoman Empire captured it.
Formerly an ancient city in the Roman province of Isauria, Olba is most famous for the striking Temple of Zeus and its many remaining columns that speak of a past when the area was a flourishing community.
As it is famous for its statues carved right into the rock surface, it’s no surprise that Adamkayalar literally translates to “man rocks.” Located on the southern end of the Toros Mountains, there’s no documented evidence regarding the origins of these ancient stone figures.
Founded around 700 BC, Soli was an ancient city and port in Cilicia until it was destroyed in the 1st century BC. It then became Pompeiopolis after Pompey the Great, a military and political leader of the late Roman Republic, rebuilt the city.
Located around an astounding sinkhole, Kanlıdivane is an ancient city that was built during the pre-Roman era and later turned into a Christian religious center named Neapolis, with the remains of many basilicas and cisterns still present.
Located close to the city of Anamur, Anemurium is an ancient city that belonged to the Roman province of Isauria. Nowadays, the beautiful ruins include a large theater, small odeon, public baths, churches, and an extensive necropolis.
Aya Tekla Cave Church
A popular site for religious pilgrimages, this ruined historic church within a cave was built during the Byzantine era and is dedicated to the saint Thecla, who was a saint of the early Christian church.
These two sinkholes, the names of which translate to heaven and hell, are absolutely stunning, especially because the natural cavities also have the remains of a monastery from the 5th century.
Believed to have been built in the 1st century AD by the Roman Empire, this historic stone pavement may have been part of the main road that connected Cilicia to Cappadocia.