Friday, December 18, 2009


Useful Information for Mersin

Tourism Information Telephone: (0324) 237 26 67

Population: 283.000

Mersin Museum:

Atatürk St. Kültür Merkezi (Cultural Center Telephone: (0324) 231 96 18

Open Everyday between 08.00 - 12.00 / 13.00 – 17.00 except for Mondays.

The museum which was set up in 1978 at a small section of the old Community Center (Halkevi) has grown bigger with the restoration of the building in 1991 when it was turned into a Cultural Center.

The objects on display at the Museum which also has an Ethnography Section include the finds excavated at Yumuktepe and Gözlükule, the earliest human settlements in Anatolia dating back to Calcolithic Age.

Atatürk House and Museum Telephone: (0324) 714 10 19 Open everyday except Mondays between 08.00 - 12.00 / 13.00 – 17.00.

State Museum of Art and Sculpture:

Inside the Atatürk Park Telephone: (0324) 231 56 21

This 19th Century building which was used as a residence and a hotel was later restored and refurbished as an attractive gallery. The building is worth seeing as much as the objects of art on display inside.

Mediterranean is not as docile as it seems

The Mediterranean was suitable for the development of maritime operations. And it developed in this direction throughout the history. However, this “suitability” does not necessarily mean that it was a sea of serenity. It is known since the Antiquity that the Mediterranean can be full of surprises any time.

In the 7th Century B.C. Hesiodos, one of the chroniclers of the Antiquity wrote in his “Works and Days” addressing his brother who was a seafarer and a farmer at the same time:

“Work the soil when the winter comes instead of going out to the sea where winds blowing from every direction turns its waters to the color of wine. Haul your vessel onto the shore and surround it with rocks … fold your sails heedfully, hang your rudder above the fireplace and wait for the season for going out to the sea to come.”

Famous Genovese Admiral Andrea Doria did not trust the Mediterranean either. He had this to say about it:

“There are three havens in the Mediterranean: Carthage, June and July!”

Museum of Mersin

There are three exhibition rooms of the museum at the city center where archeological and ethnographical objects are on display. The most important archeological objects are the finds at excavations at Yumuktepe and Gözlükule tumuli. In addition to these, artifacts from the Hittite, Hellenistic and Roman civilizations can also be seen.

The exhibition room in the upper floor is allocated to ethnographic works. Works sculptured from large rocks are placed in the courtyard.

The museum is open every day except Mondays between 08:00 to 17:00. On the first day of religious holidays, the museum is closed for half a day.

Telephone : (0324) 231 96 18

The Atatürk House

This is one of the most beautiful buildings in Mersin. It was built in 1897 for the German Consul who married a lady from Mersin as his residence. Later, the building was used as a school. In 1976 the building was donated to public ownership by its owners and it was named The Atatürk House because the founder of modern, Turkey Kemal Atatürk stayed here as a guest for two weeks with his wife in 1925.

Work for renovating the building began in 1980 and in 1992 it was inaugurated as a museum.

On the ground floor of the house, which also has a beautiful garden, photographs and documents are exhibited. On the second floor there are bedrooms and a sitting room. Some personal effects of Atatürk are also on display on the second floor.

A Source of Energy: Cezeriye

It seems that there is a neck-to-neck competition in Mersin between the cezeriye and tantuni vendors. It is hard to decide which of the two beats the other in numbers. At every step there is a shop selling either of the two delicacies.

The recipe for cezeriye, which is rich in A, and B vitamins goes like this:

Carrots are cleaned and cooked in big boilers. (For selling purposes the usual measure is 50 kilos of sugar to 100 kilos of carrots. Then 250 grams of citric acid crystals are added. Walnuts, chestnuts or pistachios are mixed with the cooked carrots. Then the thick paste is cut either by hand or by the machines. Pieces of cezeriye are sprinkled with coconut powder so that they don’t stick to each other. If you want to make cezeriye at home, cut half a kilo of carrots in small cubes, add 2 glasses of sugar and water just to wet the sugar and cook it until the mixture gets soft. Mash the mixture with a wooden spoon and make it into a puree. When it becomes a thick paste take it from the fire. If the paste sticks to your finger then it is done. Separate 1.5 of five full glasses of very coarsely ground chestnuts. Add 3.5 glasses to the mixture and squeeze it firmly in a deep glass vessel. Sprinkle the rest of the chestnuts on the mixture and leave it to cool off. When it cools off, cut it into half a centimeter thick pieces with a wet knife and sprinkle coconut powder on them.

Bon Appetite!

Public Baths

Public baths are inevitable structures of a port city. This is the result of a human need that existed since the antique times. The public baths of Hadra at the Kiremithane neighborhood (1903), the Küçük Hamam (Small Bath) near the Hospital Street and the Büyük Hamam (Big Bath) in the marketplace at the city center were all built during the period when Mersin was developing as a port city in the 19th Century. None of these public baths are now functional.

Monumental Structures

Almost all the monumental structures within city limits come from the 19th Century. Majority of these buildings that are found in the old quarters of the city belong to Turkish-Islamic period.

The Fountain of Bezm-i Alem Valide Sultan

Bezm-i Alem Valide Sultan was the mother of the 19th Century Ottoman ruler Sultan Abdulmecid. She was considered the patron of Mersin because she played an important role in the development of the city. The fountain is the earliest Islamic structure in Mersin. The inscription on the fountain says that it was built by Sultan Abdulaziz in 1861 in the memory of Bezm-i Alem. It is located on the corner of the Eski Cami (Old Mosque). With its triangular frontispiece and piers it displays local architectural characteristics.

Old Mosque (Eski Cami)

The mosque is again dedicated to Bezm-i Alem Valide Sultan, the protector of Mersin. The building was constructed in 1870. It is a rectangular, wooden, gable roofed structure with a single minaret. The mosque was renovated in 1901.

Mufti Mosque

This mosque was built by Mufti Emin Efendi in 1884 next to the stream and the bridge over it having the same name as the mosque: Mufti. The building was also used as a madrasa, religious school. The mosque has Baroque style ornamentation. Its altar carries the tugra, or the seal of the Ottoman sultan.

The Avniye Mosque

Because its minaret is wooden, this mosque was also known as “Wooden Mosque.” It has been built in 1898.

There are two more mosques that would attract your attention as you go on a city tour in Mersin. But these mosques are not historical; they are the structures of more modern times.

The Ulu Mosque (Grand Mosque)

This is a new mosque. The location was called the Customs Square in the old days. Now it is known as Ulu Çarşı. There was an old mosque built in 1898 called the Yeni Cami (New Mosque) at this spot. This mosque was torn down and the new structure was built on the same place. About 2000 worshippers can pray at the same time in the mosque which is decorated with Kütahya tiles.

The Italian Catholic Cathedral

The construction of the cathedral was begun in 1853 when the authorities gave permission to the Catholic merchants and Levantines who settled in Mersin after the development of maritime trade in the city. The church, which is run by Capuchin friars, is located on the Uray Street. The construction of the complex with its auxiliary sections and the clock tower was only completed in 1991. The Italian Catholic Cathedral is open to worship.

The Arab Orthodox Church

This is the oldest church still functioning in Mersin. It was built in 1878 on the street now named after Atatürk. It is open to worshippers.

Anchiale (Black Wall)

Historian and geographer Strabon also mentions the ruins found east of the city. Strabon writes that the Assyrian King Sardanapal built these walls together with the city of Tarsus in a single day. He also mentions King Sardanapal’s tomb, a lion’s statute and the inscription of the city, but all these have not been found yet. The remnants of aqueducts, parts of building structures, a Roman bath can also be seen around the tumulus, but unfortunately these bits and pieces do not tell much to the eyes of the amateur visitor.


There is very little information about this ancient city considered the first urban settlement in Mersin. The walls, marble columns and different structural elements uncovered during the construction of the present Cultural Center and Health Department buildings in the Çavuşlu neighborhood are the only remnants of the ancient city of Zephyrium that were able to survive until today. It is believed that further archeological work to be carried out on this tumulus would reveal important information that would shed light on the history of Mersin, Cilicia and the history of civilization in general.