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This article is about the city of Mersin, see 'Mersin Provincemarker, (named ─░├žel provincemarker until 2002), for information about the surrounding area.

Mersin is a large city and a busy port on the Mediterraneanmarker coast of southern Turkeymarker and is the capital of the Mersin Provincemarker. It is part of Adana-Mersin Metropolitan Areamarker and lies on the west part of Çukurovamarker, a geographical, economical and cultural region.


This coast has been inhabited since the 9th millennium BC. Excavations by John Garstang of the hill of Y├╝m├╝ktepe have revealed 23 levels of occupation, the earliest dating from ca. 6300 BC. A fortification was put up around 4500 BC, but the site appears to have been abandoned between 3200 BC and 1200 BC.

In the following centuries the city became a part of many states and civilizations including the Hittites, Assyrians, Persiansmarker, Greeks, the Macedonians of Alexander the Great, Seleucids, Lagids. During the Ancient Greek period, the city bore the name Zephyrion (Greek: ╬ľ╬Á¤ć¤Ź¤ü╬╣╬┐╬Ż) and was mentioned by numerous ancient authors. Apart from its natural harbor and its strategic position along the trade routes of southern Anatoliamarker, the city profited from trade in molybdenum (white lead) from the neighbouring mines of Coreyra. Ancient sources attributed the best molybdenum to the city, which also minted its own coins.

Later, the area became a part of the Roman province of Cilicia, which had its capital at Tarsusmarker, while nearby Mersin was the major port. The city, whose name was Latinized to Zephyrium, was renamed as Hadrianopolis in honor of the Roman emperor Hadrian.

In 395 the Roman Empire was split in two and this area fell into the half ruled by Byzantium (later Constantinoplemarker), which became the centre of trade in this part of the world, drawing investments and trade, and causing Mersin to lose its attractiveness.

The city was Christianized early; and was the see of a bishop. Le Quien (Oriens christianus, II, 883) names four bishops of Zephyrium: Aerius, present at the Council of Constantinople in 381; Zenobius, a Nestorian, at the Second Council of Constantinople in 432-434; Hypatius, present at the Council of Chalcedon in 451; and Peter, at the Council in Trullo in 692. The city remains a titular see of the Roman Catholic Church, Zephyriensis; the see has been vacant since 1966.

Then came the Arabs, Egyptian Tulunids, Seljuk Turks, Mongols, Crusaders, Armenians, Mamluks, Anatolian beyliks, and finally the city was conquered by the Ottomans in 1473.

During the American Civil War, the region became a major supplier of cotton to make up for the high demand due to shortage. Railroads were extended to Mersin in 1866 from where cotton was exported by sea, and the city developed into a major trade center. By 1900, the Catholic Encyclopedia reports the city having about 18,000 inhabitants, of whom 8,000 were by ethnicity Greeks, 1,000 Armenians, and 2,000 Roman Catholics; the remaining approximately 7,000 inhabitants were presumably Muslim. The Roman Catholic parish of Mersin was administered by Capuchin; there were also Sisters of St. Joseph of the Apparition; schools for boys and girls, and hospitals.

In 1918 Mersin was occupied by Frenchmarker and Britishmarker troops in accord with the Treaty of Sevr├Ęs. It was liberated by the Turkish army in 1920. In 1924, Mersin was made a province, and in 1933, Mersin and ─░├žel provinces were joined to form the (greater Mersin) ─░├žel province.

Up until the 1970s Mersin had a population of 580,000 and a classy feel to it, with carriages parading under palm trees. The seafront was all orchards of oranges and lemons, perfect for a quiet stroll, and you could play on the beach. The heart of this tree-lined bourgois establishment were the patisseries along Flamingo road, a name that evokes nostalgia among those who lived here through the 60s and 70s.

Mersin today

Mertim Tower

Today, Mersin is a large city spreading out along the coast, with Turkey's second tallest skyscraper (the 52-floor Mertim Tower, which was the tallest skyscraper in Turkey for 13 years between 1987 and 2000, until the completion of the ─░┼č Bankas─▒ Towers in Istanbulmarker), huge hotels, an opera house, expensive real estate near the sea or up in the hills, and many other modern urban amenities, although still nothing like the long-established nightlife and culture of Istanbul or Izmir. The population of the city is 807 694 according to 2008 estimates.

The municipality is now trying to rescue the sea front with walkways, parks and statues, and there are still palm trees on the roadsides especially where the young generation like to hang out in the caf├ęs and patisseries of smart neighbourhoods such as Pozcu or ├çaml─▒bel. These are established neighbourhoods where there are many well-known shops and restaurants with years of experience and reputations to protect. The city centre is a maze of narrow streets and arcades of little shops and cafes, with young people buzzing around on scooters. The old quarter near the fish market is where you will find the stalls selling tantuni and grilled liver sandwiches.

One of the most distinctive features of the city as a whole is the solar heating panels, they are everywhere, on top of every building.

Turkey now plans to construct its first nuclear power plant some 80 miles west of Mersin. In March 2008, Turkey opened the bidding for the construction of the plant. Environmental groups, such as Greenpeace, oppose this plan.


The local cuisine is famous, and restaurants specializing on the Mersin Region can be found all over Turkeymarker, and includes specialties such as:


The port is the mainstay of Mersin's economy. There are 45 piers, a total port area of , with a capacity of 6,000 ships per year.

Adjacent to the port is Mersin Free Zone established in 1986, the first free zone in Turkey, with warehouses, shops, assembly-disassembly, maintenance and engineering workshops, banking and insurance, packing-repacking, labelling and exhibition facilities. The zone is a publicly owned center for foreign investors, close to major markets in the (Middle East, North Africa, East and West Europe, Russian Federationmarker and Central Asia. The trading volume of the free zone was USD 51,8 billion in 2002.

Mersin has highway connections to the north, east and west. Mersin is also connected to the southern railroad. Adana airport is .

70% of the male population and 46% of the female population is employed. Unemployment is about 6.7%

Mersin port is an international hub for many vessels routing to European countries.Its now operated by PSA.

Mersin University

Mersin University was founded in 1992 and started teaching in 1993-1994, with 11 faculties, 6 schools and 9 vocational schools. The university has had about 10 thousand graduates, has broadened its current academic staff to more than 2100 academicians, and enrolls 22,000 students.


Because the city has been a crossroads for centuries the local culture is a medley of civilizations. Mersin has a State Opera and Ballet, the fourth in Turkey after Istanbulmarker, ─░zmirmarker and Ankaramarker. Mersin International Music Festival was established in 2001, and takes place every October. The photography association Mersin Fotograf Derne─či (MFD), is one of the most popular and active cultural organizations in the city. Some cultural activities are sponsored by the ─░├žel sanat kul├╝b├╝ (ie., Art club of Mersin) There is a great museum in the city centre.

The municipal cemetery is interesting as people of all faiths and denominations can be buried here.

In order to swim in clean water you need to get out of town, perhaps an hour along the coast. The beaches at K─▒zkalesi, Aya┼č,Susano─člu (app. 50ÔÇô70 km west) are popular with families while young people prefer Akyar,Yaprakl─▒ koy,Narl─▒kuyu or quieter bays along the coast, some of which are very attractive indeed.


Image:Mersinnn.JPG|Atat├╝rk's House and Peace StatuesImage:Mersin_Peace_Sculpture.jpg|Peace SculptureImage:Mersin_Church.JPG| One of the churches in MersinImage:Mersin Night.JPG| Mersin at nightImage:Mersin Wiki 1.jpg| Bird's-eye view of MersinImage:Mersin_with_Medi.Sea,_Turkey.jpg|Bird's eye view of Central MersinImage:Mersin Wiki 12.jpg| Bird's-eye view of Mersin 3Image:Mersin Wiki 11.jpg| One of the marinas in MersinImage:Mersin Wiki 3.jpg| "Running Horses" SculptureImage:Mersin Wiki 4.jpg| Decorative ArchImage:Mersin Wiki 5.jpg| One of the fountains in MersinImage:Mersin Wiki 6.jpg| Decorative Lake SetImage:Mersin Wiki 7.jpg| The Entrance of the Culture Park, MersinImage:Mersin Wiki 8.jpg| Mersin Cumhuriyet Meydan─▒ (Republic Square)Image:Mersin Wiki 9.jpg| Mini Open TheatreImage:Mersin Wiki 10.jpg| Fountains

International relations

Twin towns ÔÇö Sister cities

Mersin is twinned with:

Notable natives

See also


  • Blue Guide, Turkey, The Aegean and Mediterranean Coasts (ISBN 0-393-30489-2), pp. 556ÔÇô557.
  • Blood-Dark Track: A Family History (Granta Books) by Joseph O'Neill, contains a detailed and evocative history of the city, viewed from the perspective of a Christian Syrian family long resident in Mersin.
  • Richard Talbert, Barrington Atlas of the Greek and Roman World, (ISBN 0-691-03169-X), p. 66

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