The Pearl of Mediterranean
Mersin is a large city and a busy port on the Mediterranean coast of southern Turkey and is the capital of the Mersin Province. It is part of Adana-Mersin Metropolitan Area and lies on the west part of Çukurova, a geographical, economical and cultural region. According to Evliya Çelebi, the city is named after the Mersinoğullari tribe; another theory is that it is derived from the myrtle (Greek: μύρτος) which grows abundantly in the region. Mersin is so important for Turkey’s economy also Turkey’s biggest port is in Mersin.
The Metropolitan 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 cafés and patisseries of smart neighbourhoods such as Pozcu or Çamlıbel. 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 will construct its first nuclear power plant 80 miles west of Mersin (Akkuyu Nuclear Plant) Akkuyu Nuclear Plant is under construction at Akkuyu Büyükeceli, Mersin Province. It will be the country’s first nuclear power plant. The official launch ceremony took place on April 2015 and the first unit is expected to be completed in 2022.
Mersin has a hot Mediterranean climate with very hot, dry summers and cool winters. Mersin has low rainfall all throughout the year.
Mersin is an incredible cultural melting pot. Saint Paulus, the first Apostle of Christ, was born in Tarsus which is 25 km to Mersin. Tarsus has inherited a cultural heritage accumulated in 6 thousand years. Archaeological excavations carried out in Yumuktepe tumulus, located at the center of Mersin, have shown that the city was first built 9 thousand years ago.
Silifke city, founded by Selefkos Nikator, one of the commanders of Alexander the Great, is preparing for its celebrating its 2300th anniversary. Around 100 ancient cities scattered around Silifke feature the unique heritage of the Greek, Roman and Byzantian civilizations which we can discover together.
In addition to these, Antakya, the city of Saint Pierre where you can reach after a 3-hour drive, and Cappadocia, the city of earth pillars in a 4-hour driving distance, are among other tourist attractions which should not be missed.
The local cuisine is famous, and restaurants specializing on the Mersin Region can be found all over Turkey, and includes specialties such as: Ciğer Kebap, (Liver on Mangal), typically served on lavaş with an assortment of meze at 12 skewers at a time. Tantuni, a hot lavaş wrap consisting of julienned lamb stir-fried on a sac on a hint of cottonseed oil.
Bumbar, lamb intestines filled with a mixture of rice, meat and pistachios, that are served either grilled or steamed. Cezerye, a lokum made of sweet carrots, covered in ground pistachios or coconuts. Karsambaç, peeled ice, (or even snow) served with a topping of pekmez or honey. Künefe, a wood-oven baked dessert based on a mixture of cheese and pastry; famous all throughout the Levant. Kerebiç, a shortbread filled with pistachio paste, also famous throughout the Levant. Şalgam suyu, a beverage made of fermented red carrots, very popular in Southern Turkey, that is known somehow to cure hangover.
The Mersin Port is the mainstay of Mersin’s economy. There are 21 piers, a total port
area of 785,000 square metres (194 acres), with a capacity of 6,000 ships per year.
Mersin Port had been operated by Turkish Republic State Railways until 2007 and operating
rights were assigned to PSA-Akfen joint venture of Mersin International Port Management Inc.
in 2007 for 36 years by Privatization Administration.
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 Federation and Central Asia. The trading volume of the free zone was USD 53,7 billion in 2015.
Mersin has highway connections to the north, east and west. Mersin is also connected to the southern railroad. Adana airport is 69 kilometres (43 mi). 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 has 3 universities. Mersin University was founded in 1992 and started teaching in 1993-1994, with 13 faculties, 8 schools, 5 institues and 12 vocational schools. The university has had about 10 thousand graduates, has broadened its current academic staff to more than 2100 academicians, and enrolls 40,587 students. Çağ University was founded in 1997 with 3 faculties, 2 schools and two institues. The university has 4200 students and 145 academicians. Toros University was founded in 2009 with 3 faculties and 2 institues that has 2353 students and 134 academicians.
Mersin 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 Istanbul, İzmir and Ankara. Mersin International Music Festival was established in 2001, and takes place every October. The photography association Mersin Fotograf Derneği (MFD), is one of the most popular and active cultural organizations in the city. Some cultural activities are sponsored by the İçel Sanat Kulübü (i.e., Art club of Mersin) There is a great archeology museum and naval museum in the city centre.
The municipal cemetery is interesting as people of all faiths and denominations can be buried here. The City hosts the Roman Catholic Co-Cathedral of St. Anthony of Padua. In order to swim in clean water you need to get out of town, perhaps an hour along the coast. The beaches at Kızkalesi, Ayaş, Susanoğlu (app. 50–70 km west) are popular with families while young people prefer Akyar, Yapraklı Koy, Narlıkuyu or quieter bays along the coast, some of which are very attractive indeed.
Mersin International Port is the biggest port of Turkey and it is capable of doing import and export with 5 continents. Mersin Port is the biggest transit port for Middle Eastern countries also it is the only port in Turkey which offers the all port services in the same field such as: container, general Cargo (dry bulk-liquid bulk , ro-ro.
Mersin Port started to welcome the World biggest container ships by June 2016 within the scope of its new dock Project which was an investment worth of 170 million Dollars. Its total capacity has reached to 2, 2 million TEU. On designated days of the week, Mersin port offers both way trips, to and from Cyprus and Lebanon for the passengers. Port also makes a contribution to Mersin tourism with welcoming Cruise ships. Port is a main structure of Mersin economy and Mersin Organized Industrial Area alongside the neighboring cities with having a direct connection to railway and its feature of having direct loading from ship to wagon.
Airline transportation is offered from Adana Sakirpasa Airport which is 67 km. away from Mersin. The Cukurova Regional Airport is under construction which is 45 km away from Mersin. There are regular services to Cyprus from Mersin and Tasucu. There is a commuter train service between Mersin and Adana. The approximate travel time is about 45-60 minutes.
XVII’th Mediterranean Games was held in Mersin in 2013 with the participation from 24 countries. Numerous venue and infrastructure investment was made in Mersin in the scope of Mediterranean Games. Total of 500 Million Turkish Liras has spent for the construction of 11 brand new sports venue, ring roads, dormitories, hospitals, infrastructure works and renewing of the existing venues. All the venues are still operational and hosting national and international events.