Mersin is a sprawling modern city built half a century ago. The city has a population of about 950,000 and is the capital of the province of İçel. Like so many other cities in Turkey, Mersin has changed its name and is now officially called İçel, but everybody sticks to the old name. The Turks nickname it as "Pearl of the Mediterranean" (Akdeniz'in İncisi). The port of Mersin is Turkey's largest port in terms of container volume and is Anatolia's gateway to the Mediterranean. The port with all its modern facilities was put into full operation in 1962. The presence of this large port is of particular importance to nearby Adana and its rich agricultural hinterland of the Çukurova. The port functions also as the transit centre of the Middle Eastern countries. With its 48 docks, it can accommodate loading and unloading of approximately sixty ships simultaneously.
Excavations at nearby Yümüktepe have revealed remains of neolithic settlements from as early as 6300 BCE. Later, Mersin was part of the empires of the Hittites, Assyrians, Urartians, Persians, Greeks, Armenians, Seleucids and Lagids. The Romans made it part of their province of Cilicia and called it Hadrianopolis to honour their emperor Hadrian. It functioned as the major port for Tarsus, the provincial capital. At the division of the Roman Empire, it became part of the Byzantine Empire. Later, it was conquered by the Arabs, the Armenians, the Seljuks and finally annexed by the Ottoman Empire under Selim I in 1517.
Sights & Photos of Mersin
Mersin has a charming city centre with the pedestrianized Atatürk Caddesi and a broad boulevard along the waterfront where there's also a large marina.
Travel Information & Travel Tips
Mersin is a pleasant stopping point along the Mediterranean coast close to Adana, Tarsus, and Kızkalesi. We came to Mersin in 2004 and stayed two nights at the Hotel Gökhan at Soğuksu (Cold Water) Caddesi 20 (Tel. +90-(0)324/231 6256). We paid about 17 € for a large, actually huge, single with air-con and TV. Close to the hotel are some fish restaurants of which the Balıkçı Yaşar Fish Restaurant serves tasteful portions of small fish. The çiğ köfte sold by an elder man in the adjacent street proved to be not only safe but moreover extremely delicious. Also recommended is the Taşhan Antik Gallerya between Uray Caddesi and Ismet Inönü Caddesi, which is a popular collection of bars and cafes where you can sit outside.