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We will send regular newsletters to our members who have signed up for receiving it during the registration. In 'mymerhaba' newsletter, our editorial staff provides updates, with regard to any information related to places worth visiting, viewing, or otherwise worth knowing, for those who care to know more....

Fred´s Tarsus

by Fred Moore - April 2010

It’s Sunday morning, it’s a lovely day and Carol and I decide to go for a drive toward Tarsus. Tarsus is about an hour’s drive depending on what route you decide to take from Adana. We make our way to the autobahn and head west through Adana. We get off at the airport exit (that’s really one exit too soon we decide later in the day) and drive south to E-5 (it’s D400 on the map, I’m not sure why it’s called E-5 by people who live around here) the main road from Adana to Tarsus, IF you don’t take the autobahn. This highway isn’t a great piece of asphalt but it’s a four-lane running east and west along the south coast, although it’s not that close to the coast along here. Once you pass Mersin however, the highway skirts the sea coast far more closely and your view of the Mediterranean is mostly unobstructed.

Our goal today is to find a chicken restaurant, Yildirimlar, that our friends have told us about so many times over the last year. We find it fairly easily and simultaneously discover it’s located nearly at the end of an exit ramp from the autobahn. (We learn later in the day it’s at the end of the first exit past the toll booth traveling west on the autobahn.) Just minutes after we pass the restaurant, we’re in Tarsus. Here’s a built up overpass but we veer right off the highway, turn right as we come to the street and then make a quick left and drive into the southern part of the city. The Tarsus sign indicates their population is just over 233,000 people (I hadn’t thought it was so large a city.) Tarsus is an ancient city by all accounts, said to date from 7,000 years ago. An archeological site called the Mound of Gozlu Kule has been excavated 33 levels to the Late Neolithic period gives us the 7,000 year date – there are thought to be more levels of history below those exposed, but funding for more excavation remains difficult to secure so what’s below is still a mystery! The last excavations on the mound date from the late 1940s.

Tarsus was and remains primarily an agricultural city and was first exposed in the written record by the Hittites of the Old Testament. Tarsus is also the home of St. Paul the Apostle and there’s a church named for him in the city and a water well purported to have been where his house once stood which can be visited today, if you wish. Most visitors who come to Tarsus today visit the most popular sites: Cleopatra’s Gate; St. Paul’s Church; St. Paul’s well, the World-renowned Tarsus American College built in 1910, the covered bazaar, the tomb of the Old Testament Prophet Daniel currently under excavation, the Tarsus ‘eski’ houses and the Roman Bath, Roman Temple complex. Fourteen kilometers north of city you can visit the Cave of the Seven Sleepers – according to the Koran, 7 young men ‘hid’ from religious persecution for over 300 years in this cave. It’s a site frequented by both Moslems and Christians visitors; it’s fairly easy to find, simply look for the tallest minaret you’ve ever seen on the hillside as you drive north. Remember too, the site holds religious significance, so approach it with reverence.

On the street into the city, we immediately pass the Justinian Bridge, constructed by the emperor as part of a flood prevention project; it’s now incorporated in a city park on our right. Take a moment and stop - you can walk over the ancient bridge if you like. We don’t stop today but drive into the city center looking for historical signs. There, look over there, Carol says, pointing to a post with five or six brown signs stacked one above the other. We drive straight toward the signs then turn right and drive toward the Roman road site. This stretch of ancient road was discovered in 1995 when the city was excavating for a new center market place. We pull to stop at the curb near the site and walk to the entry fence gate. It’s still locked and it’s 10:30, apparently not open today; no matter, we walk around the outside and view the road through the chain-link barrier. This is a very interesting site; the road is well preserved and its fine construction is easily seen. The literature tells us the road is nearly 7 meters wide and built with a crown to ensure the water ran to each side where gutters were also constructed to aide in run-off. The paving slabs are black basalt, a volcanic rock found quite plentifully in this region of Turkey. Excavations have further exposed a ‘storm sewer’ (remember, this IS a Roman road!) that is thought to have run to the harbor some distance to the south of Tarsus.

While standing by the tourist booth, we notice a map taped to the window. I point out to Carol a museum shown on the map; we’ve not been to the museum in Tarsus (hadn’t realized there was one) and we decide to find it. We drive through Tarsus trying to locate the street for the museum; Carol has taken a photo of the map with her digital camera and she moves the map across the camera’s viewing screen to help guide us. We come upon an Ataturk statue in the round-about here and I stop in the middle of the street for a photograph (nearly every village in Turkey has one and this one like many others is most impressive). Then we come to the train station and notice a static train display with an Ataturk car attached; this too is a museum. I would very much like to visit and I drive around a moment, however the car does not appear to be open today. We drive on and miss the location of the museum by a few meters, initially, but make a u-turn and drive right up to it. I park across the street from the building and we walk across to the entrance. Surrounding the entry to the museum is an amphitheater-like set of steps descending to it from the sidewalk above. To the left of the entry is a lovely sarcophagus and to the right are a few artifacts worth your notice. The sarcophagus is decorated with a carving of draped garland held in place by children. The back has a massive hole smashed through the roof and lip where tomb raiders have gained access to extract whatever treasure may have existed within.

Inside we’re welcomed warmly and directed to the initial exhibit hall through a door to our right. Entry today is FREE; I don’t believe that is usual but we simply walk into the exhibit hall and begin our discoveries. There are some white arrows on the floor and we instinctively follow them. Immediately on our right we see some very lovely kilims mounted on a white tilting display board and then cases filled with other textile exhibits. Lighting on the kilims is unfortunately non-existent but the other cases come to life with illumination. We walk slowly viewing each display's content:  prayer beads, Korans, watches, jewelry, weapons, household items, clothing items and numerous other era artifacts, all tastefully arranged for viewing ease (both Turkish and English placards exist). In the corner on the left opposite the entry to the hall is an Ottoman sitting room exhibit; there’s an incredibly beautiful antique Kilim on the floor here, don’t miss it. The red and black woven design is bold and beautiful. The costume of the lady mannequin seated in the display is classic Ottoman style, again lighting is a challenge but our eyes do adjust after a few minutes. The traditional dinning tray with a copper rice dish and brass cups makes a fine contribution to authenticity, but don’t miss the beautiful Kirsehir carpet the mannequin is sitting on! These small museums are a wonderful time capsule of an ancient past that is truly difficult for us to imagine in today’s culture.

The gentleman who directed us into the exhibit hall has now come to point us down stairs; he waves his arm over the open space to the left of the entry and indicates there’s more to see below. We thank him and descend the stair case immediately behind us as we view the Ottoman room exhibit. Once more we confront the absence of adequate lighting. At the foot of the stairs in front of us are some stone ruins, frustrating for viewing without adequate lighting. As we move around the hall, following the arrows, cases begin to illuminate and the center exhibits are all coins from the ancient past through to the Ottoman period (bronze, brass, copper, silver and gold). There are two pottery pieces with coins spilling from their throats, one with silver coins, the other bronze, both Greco/Roman period pieces. We view wall cases filled with ancient pottery and glass (one extraordinary blue/green Roman era bowl). There are terracotta figures of goddesses and other deities and then a full wall of marble statuary; one of Asclepius especially nice in my view.

This exhibit reflects remarkable imagination by the curator; these creamy white marble statues (heads, bodies and other fragments) are set within a highly polished black marble encasement. Each statue sits atop a marble pedestal on the marble floor with a marble wall backdrop that if viewed from different angles give you the statue’s almost mirror reflection. This exhibit traverses the entire back wall, a distance of 40 to 50 feet. The contrast of the black case with the creamy white statuary is quite stunning. This is a very fine little museum; should you be in Tarsus, do stop for a visit, you won’t be sorry.

Back up the stairs now, we exit the museum headed back to Yildirimlar Restaurant to have lunch. Again, it’s a beautiful morning and we enjoy the drive. In only a few minutes we’ve reached the restaurant and park at the steps to the entry. We decide to sit out on the covered front terrace for lunch. We’ve both ordered chicken shish (a specialty here) and when it comes it’s huge; the waiter removes the chicken from the skewers by pressing the two chicken encrusted rods between two pieces of bread. Picture this; a loaf of fresh Turkish bread, it looks a little like a somewhat deflated football in shape, it’s golden brown in color and about a foot and a half long. The bread is cut both lengthwise to make a sandwich and then cut crossways for a half sandwich, so Carol and I share the loaf between us. We’re brought a very large green salad in a round clear glass tray, maybe ten inches in diameter. There are also three side dishes: one with lemon wedges and parsley, another with mostly pink colored pickled cabbage (this is very spicy) and a dish of very salty pickles (something I’ve never appreciated). The waiter brings a large bottle of water and we order ayran for drinks. We discuss our morning (especially the museum) and leisurely consume our lunch. We’re eating alone; we’re quite early by Turkish standards. Once we’ve finished, we get back on the highway and head home taking the first autobahn exit, just minutes from the restaurant and in another few minutes we’re on the autobahn headed for Adana and home.

It was a very lovely morning of discovery. We now know where the chicken restaurant is located and we’ve visited a wonderful little museum as a bonus.





Fred´s Farewell
A Day Trip in January
Drive to Roman Ruins
An Autumn Drive
Cappadocia - Once Again
A Trip to Ephesus and Pamukkale
Fred´s Tarsus
Northern Cyprus Over Thanksgiving
Cilician Drive
Kocatepe Mosque - Ankara
A Visit to Anıtkabir
Fred´s Weekend in Ankara
A Day in Anavarza
Driving in the Heartland
Spontaneity by Fred
A Trip to Soğanlı and Gülşehir
An Antakya Weekend
A Weekend Around Adana
A Rainsoaked Adventure
A Mediterranean Adventure
Fred's Bor Adventure
Fred's Weekend Escape to Ihlara
Fred's Lecture on Carpet
Fred's Weekend Away
Uzuncaburc with Fred
Museums of Cappadocia
Göreme - A Different Way
Night Train to Ankara
Cave Home Tour
A Trip to Kayseri - Özkonak
Kastabala in August
A Bittersweet Adventure
Silifke, Anamur and more
Around Adana
Catalhoyuk & Aksehir Adventures
Nigde Exploration
Cappadocia Again
Kahramanmaraş Again
A Trip to Kayseri - Sultanhani
A Morning Walk
Sunday Lunch Overlooking the Lake
Fred's Kahramanmaras
Holiday Drive to Mersin
A Sunday Drive to Yumurtalik
Fred's Tarsus
Fred's Cappadocia
Botas Seaside Drive
Fred's Konya Museums
A Bus Tour to Antakya
A Walk with Cuddle
Ankara Again
Gaziantep Museum by Fred
Moores' Anniversary Weekend
Shopping in Sanliurfa
The Seaside at Karataş
This is Ankara
Tour to Gaziantep-Harran
Trip to Konya
Birsen's Horizons
Fred's Trip Logs
Bahar's Views on...
Business World
From Members' Pen
Interviews with Members
Moms & Kids Corner
Pets with Dr. Demirel
The archives of The Guide
The Archives of Turkishtime
Teen's world

Latest comments about this article

 By senem  12.5.2010

have you heard www.notyboard.com there are everythings about Turkey. it is like a craigslist. it is very populer in Turkey especially in istanbul

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Fred's Trip Logs
Fred´s Farewell
A Day Trip in January
Drive to Roman Ruins
An Autumn Drive
Cappadocia - Once Again
A Trip to Ephesus and Pamukkale
Fred´s Tarsus
Northern Cyprus Over Thanksgiving
Cilician Drive
Kocatepe Mosque - Ankara
A Visit to Anıtkabir
Fred´s Weekend in Ankara
A Day in Anavarza
Driving in the Heartland
Spontaneity by Fred
A Trip to Soğanlı and Gülşehir
An Antakya Weekend
A Weekend Around Adana
A Rainsoaked Adventure
A Mediterranean Adventure
Fred's Bor Adventure
Fred's Weekend Escape to Ihlara
Fred's Lecture on Carpet
Fred's Weekend Away
Uzuncaburc with Fred
Museums of Cappadocia
Göreme - A Different Way
Night Train to Ankara
Cave Home Tour
A Trip to Kayseri - Özkonak
Kastabala in August
A Bittersweet Adventure
Silifke, Anamur and more
Around Adana
Catalhoyuk & Aksehir Adventures
Nigde Exploration
Cappadocia Again
Kahramanmaraş Again
A Trip to Kayseri - Sultanhani
A Morning Walk
Sunday Lunch Overlooking the Lake
Fred's Kahramanmaras
Holiday Drive to Mersin
A Sunday Drive to Yumurtalik
Fred's Tarsus
Fred's Cappadocia
Botas Seaside Drive
Fred's Konya Museums
A Bus Tour to Antakya
A Walk with Cuddle
Ankara Again
Gaziantep Museum by Fred
Moores' Anniversary Weekend
Shopping in Sanliurfa
The Seaside at Karataş
This is Ankara
Tour to Gaziantep-Harran
Trip to Konya

Focus On
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