The pearl of the Mediterranean, Mersin

Alara Benlier | Live the World

November 23, 2022

Mersin is a gorgeous ancient city located in the Mediterranean coast of Turkey. Very close to Adana, this city is often called "The Pearl of the Mediterranean", because it is not only an important hub of Turkey's economy but also it is covered with history, ancient sites and gorgeous old castles! Let's not forget about its amazing nature! If you want to visit Turkey -and don't feel like going to Antalya (let's face it, Antalya is never boring)-, then Mersin is definitely the perfect option for you. Speaking of amazing beaches and historical places...

This ancient tower, named Erdemli, is located in the beautiful town of Mersin. It said to be one of the most attractive tourist destinations in Mersin. Also known as "Deniz Kalesi" aka "Sea Castle" in English, the castle's original name is "Maiden's Tower", or simply in Turkish, "Kızkalesi". If you ever visited İstanbul, you know there is also another Maiden's Tower in the middle of the Marmara sea. The story of these two castles is more or less the same; the legend has it that the emperor built this tower for his beloved daughter's protection, since one day, an oracle had** **prophesied that she would be killed by a venomous snake on her 18th birthday. So he locked his daughter in this tower and visited her frequently. On her 18th birthday, the emperor brought her a basket of exotic fruits, without though realising that there was a snake hidden inside these exotic fruits; as a result, the snake bit the princess who later on died in her father's arms, as the oracle had previously predicted.

This gorgeous castle was built during the times of the Byzantine Empire but it was rebuilt in the 13th Century. It is 600 meters away from the coastline, so to get there, you can swim or just rent a water bike!

Picture © Credits to Hipokrat

Another ancient castle in Mersin is the Mamure Castle! This amazing castle is a bit older than the Maiden's Tower. It was built in the 4th century in order to protect the city from the pirates of the Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia. It has changed hands throughout the centuries but lastly, it was annexed by the Ottoman Empire. After being repaired for 3 centuries, it was eventually used as a caravanserai. The Mamure Castle has 39 gorgeous towers, three main courtyards, a lighthouse, a little mosque and of course ancient Turkish baths. It is one of the most picturesque stops in the ancient Mersin!

Picture © Credits to canaran

This natural phenomenon is definitely worth checking, since it is one of the most visited places in Mersin. After driving in the road from the Mediterranean coastal highway, you will reach the Temple of Zeus! You can park your car around there and start exploring this otherworldly archeological site! Known as the "Caves of Heaven and Hell", it consists of two ponors which took their shape after a big cave collusion, 23 million years ago! Eve*n before the humans appeared on Earth!* The Cave of Heaven can be reached by stairs; at their end, a cave with a gorgeous church welcomes its visitors. This cave is named "Heaven", since it is very airy, bright and very easy to access; however, the Cave of Hell is the exact opposite! In order to reach the cave of hell, a special climbing equipment is required. It is also a very hard and pretty dark cave to discover. The cave of Hell is 128 meters long, which is approximately high as a 35-storey building!

Lastly, while there, don't forget to try the delicious traditional meals like "tantuni", which is julienned lamb stir-fried on a sac wrapped in hot lavaş, and "cezerye" which is a lokum made of sweet carrots, covered in ground pistachios or coconuts. In the end, drink "boyan" which is a typical liquorice drink!

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