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(New page: '''Mersin Province''' is in the eastern part of Mediterranean Turkey, which was formerly known as '''Cilicia'''. Mersin Province is bordered by Antalya Province in the west, [[Kara...)
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[[Wikipedia:{{subst:Mersin Province}}]]
[[Wikipedia:Mersin Province]]

Revision as of 17:11, 17 May 2008

Mersin Province is in the eastern part of Mediterranean Turkey, which was formerly known as Cilicia. Mersin Province is bordered by Antalya Province in the west, Karaman Province in the north, Adana Province in the east, and is bounded by Mediterranean Sea to the south. It also shares short borders with Konya Province and Nigde Province in the northeast. Mersin Province was named İçel Province prior to early 2000s. Since then, it was renamed after its provincial capital, which is the norm in Turkey (with a few exceptions).

Districts (counties)

  • Mersin – the provincial capital. A rapidly growing industrial city in the eastern part of the province.
  • Aydincik (Aydıncık) – a quiet coastal town. Nearby caves are habitat of Mediterranean monk seals and Mediterranean sea turtles.
  • Anamur – the southernmost point of Turkey (near 36° N). Well-known for its banana plantations.
  • Bozyazi (Bozyazı) – another coastal town situated on one of the (rare) coastal plains.
  • Camliyayla (Çamlıyayla)– a town up in the mountains. Once used by people of Mersin as a summer retreat to escape hot weather.
  • Erdemli
  • Gulnar (Gülnar)– home of nomadic Yörük tribes.
  • Mut – a town up in the mountains. When coming from Central Anatolia, this is the first place you’ll feel the Mediterranean climate, and see the subtropical plants of Mediterranean region, such as bananas, palm trees, cacti, eucalypti etc.
  • Silifke – a city near the shore, though not directly on the coastline. Situated about the halfway of two extremes of the province.
  • Tarsus – the second biggest city of the province, once home of Saint Paulus.

Other destinations

  • Heaven and Hell Caves (Cennet-Cehennem) – two huge pits located a few minutes of walk from each other. They are formed when ceilings of two underground caves collapsed. Bigger of them resembles a green, peaceful heaven while the other is a post-apocalyptic abyss full of sharp stalagmites. It is possible to reach the bottom of Heaven Cave (which also has ruins of a monastery) by climbing down ancient stairs (452 of them, and as every descent has an ascend, it is not advisable for those having heart and respiration problems, especially in summer), but it is, quite happily, not possible to go down into Hell Cave. They are situated between Silifke (20 km away) and Erdemli (27 km away), 1 km north of highway.
  • Maiden’s Castle (Kızkalesi) – a quite big and well-preserved castle built on an island off the shore. Story has it that a powerful king built the castle in the middle of the sea to protect his beloved daughter from death after hearing a prophecy told by a fortuneteller, but a snake had found its way to the castle (inside a basket of fruits) and, as you have already guessed, had bitten and killed the princess (quite the same myth with the one of Maiden’s Tower in Istanbul). The castle is also situated between Silifke and Erdemli, very near the Heaven and Hell Caves. It can be reached from the mainland (the town situated across the castle is also named Kızkalesi) by the small boats serving the visitors.
  • Göksu Valley – Between Silifke and Mut. Formed by turquoise Göksu River (known as “Saleph River” in ancient times) by carving the Taurus Mountains in millions of years, this valley, with its deep cliffs, canyons, forests, and lots of citadels dotting the hills has a spectacular scenery. The valley was once used by, among others, the Crusader armies of Third Crusade, on their way to Jerusalem, but the valley also signaled the end to this branch of Crusaders, too, as their leader/German king Frederick Barbarossa drowned in the river when trying to have a bath (in 1190). In the Göksu Delta, where Göksu empties into Mediterranean near Silifke, lives 106 species of birds of international importance, 12 of which are endangered species. The delta is also home to 3 species of sea turtles, all endangered.
  • Tasucu (Taşucu) – a small town with Mediterranean architecture. This is the gateway to Cyprus as there are frequent boats to Northern Cyprus from this town’s harbour.


Although not as widely visited as its western neighbour, Antalya Province, Mersin Province has a lot to offer to every taste. For history lovers, it offers hundreds of castles, city ruins, temples, inns, and artifacts dating back to Roman, Biblical, Crusade, Seljuq, and Ottoman times. For nature lovers, it may mean mountains, mountains, and again mountains covered with pine forests. For green warriors, it holds the last shelters for endangered Mediterranean monk seals (Monachus monachus) and Mediterranean sea turtles (Caretta caretta). For sea&sun seekers, it has hundreds of miles of beaches, both sandy and pebbled, spared from pollution, lying under perhaps one of the sunniest skies of Turkey and also of Europe.

Despite its close proximity to Turkey’s main touristic areas, still “travelling” (i.e., being a “traveller”) is the norm in much of the province (as opposed to “tourism”, i.e., being a “tourist”). If you want to have a cup of tea, then you should head for local coffeehouse, not a touristical/fancy/European-looking café. If you’ll sleep in somewhere, then it would (most likely) be a guesthouse where other regional guests are staying at, not an “all-inclusive” holiday resort as a part of a package tour. This situation has its advantages: people are more friendly, and prices are lower.

Eastern parts of the province are portions of huge Çukurova plain, the biggest lowland of Turkey. Rugged and wooded western and southern parts are dominated by Taurus Mountains with very little (or no) flatland between mountain slopes and the shoreline. Quite surprisingly, this mountainous area has one of the least population densities anywhere in maritime Turkey.

The province is Turkey’s main citrus (lemon, orange, grapefruit…) and banana growing region. Almost always sunny climate also allows intensive greenhouse operations, which cater Turkey’s central and northern regions (and also parts of Europe) with fresh vegetables in winter.


Typical Mediterranean climate: Hot and dry/sunny summers (April to early November), mild and rainy winters (the rest of the year). In Anamur, on only 1 day out of 365 days a year, the temperature is lower than +5° C (+41° F) on the average.


In eastern part of the province, you would probably be fine with a little bit of English, especially in tourism-oriented businesses. Some German can also be useful as Germans are the largest number of foreigners visiting Turkey. In more remote places, such as those in the western and southern parts of the province, you will need at least a few Turkish words. However, Turkish spoken in parts of the province is a bit far away from standard Turkish (i.e, that is spoken in Istanbul), lying in a medium between Konya dialect and Cypriot Turkish (closer to the latter). So, it may be best to ask for written answers as the pronounciations in the phrasebooks are not exactly how the people of the province pronounce the words. They all understand standard Turkish, though.

Get in

By air

Nearest airport for both international and domestic flights is in Adana. For the southernmost part of the province (Anamur and its environs), international airport in Antalya is another possibility.

By train

Only Mersin and Tarsus are served by a rail line in the province. There are no long-distance trains calling at either of these stations, only regional expresses coming from nearby Adana. The station of Yenice town is the nearest place where long-distance trains from many places around Turkey call at (transfer to regional expresses is possible there).

By bus

Mersin, being one of the biggest cities in Turkey, should have bus services from almost any city in Turkey. Other towns are usually served from regional centres.

By car

D400 highway between Adana and Antalya enters the province from its one extreme and follows (or at least tries to follow as long as rugged geography permits) the coastline until the other extreme in the NE-SW axis of the province. It traverses all the towns located along the shoreline. D715 from Konya in the north also joins D400 in Silifke after passing through a pass on Taurus Mountains (Sertavul Pass) and Mut.

By boat

There are scheduled ferries from Cypriot cities of Kyrenia and Famagusta to either Mersin, Tasucu or Anamur.

Get around

By train

As mentioned in get in section, rail network is very limited in the province.

By bus/minibus

Smaller settlements in the province have minibus services to bigger towns/cities, such as Mersin, Silifke, and Anamur.

By car

The main highway of the province, D400, is wide (mostly 4-lane), smooth and straight in the section between Tarsus and Tasucu, 15 km west of Silifke. All other roads in the province are narrow (only wide enough for two cars passing side by side) and very (in some cases, extremely) winding because of the very rugged landscape. But the situation may change rapidly, as there were new road constructions in April, 2008.

By thumb

People are friendly towards hitchhikers. Despite its favourable climate and proximity to Turkey’s main touristic areas (e.g., Antalya Province), there are not as many travelers as you may assume, therefore people treat you like guests (but don’t expect them to do more than giving you a lift and may be offering a fruit). The general problem is that there are not many vehicles in much of the province, and therefore waiting for a lift can take up to 2 hours, under the cruel sun between April and October. Don’t forget to take lots of water and sunblock lotion! The drivers that offer a lift also are mostly driving town-to-town, so there is little chance to find a long-haul lift, but that is not such a bad thing as you will experince more of rural/real spirit of Mediterranean Turkey.







In the western and southern parts of the province, always carry an extra amount of cash with you. Most of the settlements you’ll come across are far in-between, rural and doesn’t have enough population to justify setting up an ATM. Also, supermarkets are rare as well, and the smaller the place you are in, the less chance that your (or any) credit card will be accepted.

Stay safe

Stay healthy

Being located at the same latitude with the Mediterranean African cities such as Algiers or Tangier, sun is very strong in this part of Turkey. Even non-local Turkish people (those from more northerly locations, such as Istanbul) can have hard time. Don’t forget to drink lots of water to stay hydrated, to have more salt in your diet than you are used to for balancing your sodium loss by sweating (or better drink at least one cup of salty ayran evey day), and to use sunblock lotion.


Respect the nature:

  • Much of the province is covered with pine forests. Hot and dry Mediterranean climate, which reigns in the area, makes them very vulnerable to wildfires. In fact, a forest fire in Summer 2007 destroyed an extremely large tract of forest (the width of damaged area is somewhere around 10-15 km) and couldn’t be taken under control for 4 days. Therefore, in wooded areas, be careful with your fire (and your cigarette!), or better, do not use any fire if possible at all.
  • In some places on the road (even on the highway), you’ll see turtle signs. They mean the place in question is used by endangered Mediterranean sea turtles (Caretta caretta) for crossing into their egg-laying area. Don’t ask why on Earth the turtles are attempting to cross the road, they just follow their million-year-old habits, and the road was built in a different era, when habits of turtles (and the turtles themselves) weren’t much of an interest. Be extremely careful when driving in an area with such a sign. Also, be aware that many of the sandy beaches in the province (especially those in the southern part) are used by turtles as egg-laying areas, whether there is a sign or not. So be careful when using these beaches, avoid thrusting sharp things –such as beach umbrellas- into the sand, and do not leave behind even the smallest piece of trash.


The telephone code for Mersin Province is 324.

Get out

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