Tarsus is a historic town in Mersin that has witnessed countless battles, civilizations, and, of course, some of the most epic love tales in its 6000-year (known) history! It is also one of the cities whose name has remained unchanged for centuries. The name of the town is derived from a pagan god, "Tarku from the Hittites." This magnificent metropolis was home to some of the most prominent civilizations, including the Roman Empire, the Byzantine Empire, the Ottoman Empire, and many more. It is also a popular pilgrimage site for Christians due to the magnificent St. Paul Church.
Throughout the ancient and medieval centuries, Tarsus was a particularly significant religious city. Saint Paul was born as a Jew in Tarsus but converted to Christianity after Jesus performed a miracle on him on his way to Damascus; he was blind, and Jesus helped his sight again. If you read the Bible, you'll notice that he wrote 14 letters. He went on several missionary travels and was a pivotal figure in Christian history. A Greek Orthodox Church dedicated to St. Paul was constructed in 1102 and rebuilt several times over the ages. The frescoes of Jesus with Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John may be found on the church's ceiling.
Tarsus does not have a shoreline anymore, but it was a vital city port under the Roman Empire, surrounded by a set of concentric fortification walls. There were three gates on these walls: a mountain entrance to the Toros Mountains, a port gate to the Mediterranean shoreline known as Cleopatra's Gate, and the Adana Gate to the neighboring city of Adana.
No trip to Tarsus would be complete without exploring the Old City, which features a fantastic 60-meter-long Roman road and medieval stone dwellings reminiscent of other well-known Turkish cities such as Safranbolu. The ancient city, located between Adana Bulvar and Hal Caddesi, is also home to Eski Cami, a medieval chapel eventually converted into a mosque.