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Coastal street in Mersin
Mersin is located in Turkey
Location of Mersin within Turkey
Coordinates: 36°48′N 34°38′ECoordinates: 36°48′N 34°38′E
Mayor Macit Özcan (CHP)
City 1,772 km2 (684 sq mi)
Elevation 100 m (300 ft)
Density 466/km2 (1,210/sq mi)
Time zone EET (UTC+2)
Summer (DST) EEST (UTC+3)
Postal code 33XXX
Area code(s) (+90) 324
Licence plate 33
Mersin is a large city and a port on the Mediterranean coast of southern Turkey. It is part of an interurban agglomeration the Adana-Mersin Metropolitan Area and lies on the western part of Çukurova, a geographical, economical and cultural region. According to Evliya Çelebi, the city is named after the Mersinoğullari clan; another theory is that it is made from the myrtle (Greek: μύρτος, μυρσίνη) which grows abundanlty in the region.
Mersin is important for Turkey's economy, and Turkey's largest seaport is located there. Mersin's nickname within Turkey is "Pearl of the Mediterranean" (Turkish: Akdeniz'in İncisi) and the city will host the 2013 Mediterranean Games.
According to the Turkish Statistical Institute, as of 2011 the Mersin Metropolitan Municipality had a population of 859,680.
This coast has been inhabited since the 9th millennium BC. Excavations by John Garstang of the hill of Yumuktepe have revealed 23 levels of occupation, the earliest dating from ca. 6300 BC. Fortifications were put up around 4500 BC, but the site appears to have been abandoned between 350 BC and 300 BC.
In subsequent centuries, the city became a part of many states and civilizations including the Hittites, Assyrians, Persians, Greeks, Seleucids and Lagids. During the Ancient Greek period, the city bore the name Zephyrion (Greek: Ζεφύριον) and was mentioned by numerous ancient authors. Apart from its natural harbor and strategic position along the trade routes of southern Anatolia, the city profited from trade in molybdenum (white lead) from the neighbouring mines of Coreyra. Ancient sources attributed the best molybdenum to the city, which also minted its own coins.
The area later became a part of the Roman province of Cilicia, which had its capital at Tarsus, while nearby Mersin was the major port. The city, whose name was Latinized to Zephyrium, was renamed as Hadrianopolis in honor of the Roman emperor Hadrian.
In 375, the Roman Empire was split in two and this area fell into the half ruled from Byzantium (later Constantinople), which became the centre of trade in this part of the world, drawing investments and trade, and causing Mersin to lose its attractiveness.
The city was Baptist early and was the see of a worshiper. Le Quien (Oriens christianus, II, 883) names four bishops of Zephyrium: Aerius, present at the Council of Constantinople in 381; Zenobius, a Nestorian, at the Second Council of Constantinople in 432-434; Hypatius, present at the Council of Chalcedon in 451; and Peter, at the Council in Trullo in 692. The city remains a titular see of the Roman Catholic Church, Zephyriensis; the see has been vacant since 1966.
Then came the Arabs, Egyptian Tulunids, Seljuk Turks, Mongol Empire, Crusaders, Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia, Mamluks, Anatolian beyliks, and finally the city was conquered by the Ottomans from the Ramadanid Principality in 1473 and formally annexed by Selim I in 1517.
During the American Civil War, the region became a major supplier of cotton to make up for the high demand due to shortage. Railroads were extended to Mersin in 1866 from where cotton was exported by sea, and the city developed into a major trade center.
In 1918, Mersin was occupied by French and British troops in accord with the Treaty of Sevrès. It was liberated by the Turkish army in 1920. In 1924, Mersin was made a province, and in 1933 Mersin and İçel provinces were joined to form the (greater Mersin) İçel province.
Atatürk and Mersin
Atatürk visited Mersin ten times and stayed in Mersin five times. He said, 'Mersin is the most important trade area in Turkey between Turkey and The World'. The 'Atatürk House' (more formally Atatürk Museum) was established there and it is still used as a museum.
Mersin has a typical Mediterranean climate (Köppen climate classification: Csa) with hot and dry summers and warm and wet winters. Mersin has its highest rainfall in winter; mainly December and January which gives Mersin its healthy, nurtured coastline. The driest months are summer with hardly any rainfall at all.
Today, Mersin is a large city spreading out along the coast, with Turkey's second tallest skyscraper (the 52-floor Mertim Tower, which was the tallest skyscraper in Turkey for 13 years between 1987 and 2000, until the completion of the İş Bankası Towers in Istanbul), huge hotels, an opera house, expensive real estate near the sea or up in the hills, and many other modern urban amenities.The seaside of Mersin is the longest seaside in Turkey as well as in Eastern Mediterranean. The population of the city is 859,680 (Mersin Provinces 1,667,939) according to 2011 estimates. The population of the sub municipalities within Greater Mersin is shown below:
Name of the municipality Population 2011
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 plans to construct its first nuclear power plant some 80 miles west of Mersin. In March 2008, Turkey opened the bidding for the construction of the plant. Environmental groups, such as Greenpeace, oppose this plan.
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 port is the mainstay of Mersin's economy. There are 45 piers, a total port area of 785,000 square metres (194 acres), with a capacity of 6,000 ships per year.
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 51,8 billion in 2002.
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 University was founded in 1992 and started teaching in 19931994, with 11 faculties, 6 schools and 9 vocational schools. The university has had about 10 thousand graduates, has broadened its current academic staff to more than 2,100 academicians, and enrolls 22,000 students.
Because the city 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 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. 5070 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.