Living in History

Trip Start May 17, 2006
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Trip End Ongoing


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Saturday, June 17, 2006

We decided to rent a car for two days to do some sightseeing of places a little harder to get to. It was a very good trip.

We started by going east to Misis to see a mosaic of Noah's Arc. The pieces that you could see were very beautiful. It was hard to really tell it was Noah's Arc though. But it was still worth the drive there. From there, we headed east a little bit more to look at Snake Castle. This castle is located on a mountain and there is a bit of a hike to get to it. But the hike was well worth it as well. The structures are amazing to look at. It makes you wonder how they were able to build such things. The castle was built in the 11th century and the castle was named Govara, but introduced as Sahmaran (Medusa, the Gorgon).

From there, we drove west to Tarsus where we saw Cleopatra's Gate. This is the gate that Anthony and Cleopatra went through when they came to Tarsus to meet. At that time, the sea was right up to the gate and it was the main port entryway into the city. Now, it stands in the centre of the city.

We then went to Tarusu Selalesi, Tarsus Waterfalls. They were very beautiful. The water here is so colorful. They have restaurants all around the waterfall area. There are underground rock graves from the Romans here. The graves can be seen depending on the water levels. I couldn't see them when I was here.

Next, was Saint Paul's Well. Tarsus is the birthplace of Saint Paul after the birth of Jesus. Beside the well is what is left of the foundation of his house where he was born.

There is also an ancient city that was found in Tarsus. It has a paved road and a sewage system underneath.

St. Paul's Church is also in Tarsus. It was founded in the 17-18th century with frescos of Christ, John, Matthew, Mark, and Luke on the ceiling.

After all that we saw on the first day, we drove the rest of the way to Mersin to get hotel and swim in the Sea. We went to Kizkalsei, where there is a castle on an island 200m from the beach. We rented a paddle boat and went over to the castle. It was absolutely beautiful. The government has been doing renovations on the castle to restore and preserve it. There is also another castle that is across from this island, Korykos Castle, and the two were once joined by a sea wall. I never got to see the second castle. It is quite large and we didn't have enough time to explore it, but I would have liked to have seen it.

After spending half the day at the beach swimming and exploring the castle, we checked out of our hotel to start the rest of our sight seeing. We started by going to a cave, Asthma Cave. It is said that the air in the cave is supposed to cure respiratory illnesses, although it doesn't seem to have an effect on Sait's asthma. There is a store built over the entrance to the cave, and you go down 78 iron steps. From there, you can walk all around the cave, which is quite large.

Down the hill from the cave, there is Cehennem Cukuru and Cennet Cokugu, The Pit of Hell and the Chasm of Heaven. The Pit of Hell is where Zeus had a Typhon (a 100-headed fire-breathing monster) imprisoned before putting it under Mt. Etna. The Chasm of Heaven was a large cave that collapsed due to the erosion of an underground stream. There is a pathway of 452 stairs to the bottom (which we climbed) to see an ancient chapel at the entrance to the caves below. It was build by a man named Paulus in the honor of Saint Mary in the 5th or 6th century A.D. The stream cannot be seen anymore unless you go deep into the cave. While we were here, I got to RIDE a CAMEL. It was so much fun. I have never seen a camel before. There was a guy here that had two camels that he gave rides to the tourists for 5 lira. I think that is one of my favorite things that we did. They have sharp teeth and the one camel I pet was wanting me to feed it something but I didn't have anything and I was afraid it was going to bite my hand.

From here, after our long hike, we went to a Museum just at the bottom of the hill that has the Mosaic of the Three Graces (the Daughters of Zeus). On top of this mosaic, there used to be a really old café that had a dirt floor. The shop owner was cleaning and sweeping the floor and saw a part of the mosaic. The archaeologists came and started digging up his floor and that was how the mosaic was found. They built a museum on top of it, and in excavations around the mosaic, they found a bath. The mosaic used to be the floor of a bath house. The water that came from the caves in Heaven run down and supplied that bath house with its water. The water now runs out to the sea underneath a restaurant. This is from the 4th century A.D.

From here, we went to Adamkayalar, The Roman Reliefs. These are on the rocky slope of a valley called Devil's Glen. These reliefs are 19 in number, and are sculptured in the niches and caves and they have characteristics of Roman work from the 1st and 2nd century.

Just up the road, there is an active archaeology dig with excavations continuing in August around a theatre and monumental area. This was an impressive site. We couldn't walk around it or really look at anything but there was a lot that was uncovered. They found it when they were digging to start building a new house. The area between Mersin and Kizkalesi is very impressive. The landscape is actually littered with ruins and beautiful evidence of a culture that lived thousands of years ago. They think that this area was once a large city. There was just so much to see.

Our next stop, Kanytelleis-Kanli Divane. This was so amazing. Around this huge sink hole, a whole city was built. It was founded in the 3rd century B.C. There are ruins of a Hellenistic tower, a monastery, and a castle. It is believed that people found guilty of crimes were put at the bottom of the hole and the king gave them a choice; there were two tunnels, one with a woman in it and the other with lions. Depending on what the person chose, they got freedom or death. The king would watch this from his castle at the top. You can see evidence of stairs down to the bottom, and there are paintings of the royal family on one of the walls. Carved into the wall was a gladiator holding his sword. This was very nice to see. Just down the road from this site is the Tomb of the King, his bodyguard and servants and one tomb for a woman.

Our last stop was at a small set of ruins that we aren't sure what they were; possibly an old castle. This was such a good trip. I can't believe that I was actually in a castle. The food was okay. My order at one of the restaurants was totally wrong. Sait and I both felt sick when we got home. We did have a nice dinner on a boat in Mersin where we had fish.
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