Situated in the province of Mersin and just West of the major city of Adana, Tarsus is a famous historical city around 20 kilometres inland of the south-central Turkish coast. It is best known for being the birthplace of St. Paul. Tarsus saw the rise and fall of the formidable Hittite empire, which thrived on agriculture. During the later Byzantine and Roman periods, the economy established a foothold in trade with the empires to the east and west with its thriving linen industry. To this day, the linen and agricultural trades remain the speciality of Tarsus.

Many excavations have been taken place in this city because of the importance associated with St. Pauls birthplace which brings many visitors on a yearly basis. Today the excavations can be found in the Cumhuriyet Mahallesi district of the city. Around 67 BCE, Tarsus was made the capital of the Roman province of Cilicia and saw reign under the emperor Augustus the first who exempted Tarsus from taxes as his good friend Athenodorus was from there. Moreover St. Paul’s well can be found in Tarsus which is said to bring healing properties to anyone who would drink from its waters.

The city of Tarsus saw many empires rise and fall, and after the Hittites (1700-1200 BC) came the Assyrians, Alexander the Great and the Seleucid empire, and lastly the Romans. Under the Roman empire, many stoic philosophers from the 1st century AD were born and lived in Tarsus, making it a prominent centre for wisdom seekers.

Things to do in Tarsus

Tarsus Waterfall
Located on the northern side of Turkey, Tars Waterfall is a great place to visit during the day when it’s hot outside. You will see the mist rolling off of the great site, creating rainbows as it gleams in the sun and you can marvel at it all from one of the cool restaurants all around.

Well Stone Cave
Attributed to the Well stones of St. Paul’s Well, this cave has religious significance and is the perfect way to travel back through time and imagine what life would have been like 2,000 years ago. Known as Taskuyu cave in Turkish, this is a small cave is 10 kilometres northwest of Tarsus.

Cleopatra’s Gate
This historical monument which can today be found in the middle of a roundabout in Tarsus and gets its name from Plutarch, the Greek writer and philosopher. He claimed that Cleopatra VII (the last ruler of Egypt before it was annexed by the Romans) met Mark Anthony (a famous Roman general) at the gate close to the port aboard her ship, making it a famous tourist attraction today.

Related Destinations