The Port of Mersin is not a well-known tourist destination, but it offers travelers a wonderful place to relax and delve into the distant past. The shores around Mersin offer over 100 kilometers of beautiful beaches with clean sands and clear waters. Both inland and on the coastline, history-lovers will find an almost endless supply of ancient ruins and historic tales.
The Port of Mersin's Archaeological and Ethnographical Museum contains ceramics from the Bronze Age, Hellenic and Roman coins, Hittite seals, and a replica of a nomadic Turcoman house with a collection of folkloric costumes.
About 55 kilometers southwest of the Port of Mersin along at the coast are the fortresses of Korykos and Kizkalesi (or the Maid's Castle). The fortress of Korykos was constructed on earlier fortifications built in the 12th Century by the Cilician Armenian Kings. During Roman times, the area was heavily populated, and there are many archaeological sites in the area of the castle. Next to the castle, visitors will find tombs cut into the rock. A small fortress on an islet in the center of the bay complemented Korykos fortress. The two castles were linked by a dam that soon disappeared. Legend holds that the castle was built by a father trying to protect his daughter from a foreseen snakebite. The scheme failed, though, and the maid died from a bite from a snake hidden in a basket of figs sent by an admirer.
Tarsus, the ancient birthplace of the Christian apostle Paul, is just 27 kilometers northeast of the Port of Mersin. Despite its long and famous history, Tarsus has few ancient monuments standing today. However, there are some interesting and important places to see. The Gate of Cleopatra stands to recall the day that the queen from Egypt entered the city to meet Marc Antony in 41 AD. St. Paul's well and house are preserved, and visitors can drink water from the well. Ulu Cami, an Ottoman mosque, was built in 1579. Gozlu Kule is an excavation site where artifacts of Hittite and Hellenic origin have been discovered (the findings are in the Museum of Adana).
Ataturk's House in the Port of Mersin is a memorial to the 11-day visit in 1925 by Turkey's national hero, Ataturk, and his wife. In fact, he made several visits to the city, where the people were honored to provide housing in the most splendid building in the Port of Mersin. Today, the building is a museum and conference and cultural center containing many cultural items, including a cup from which Ataturk drank.
Travelers who want to visit the Port of Mersin by sea can find a list of scheduled cruises on the Cruise Compete website.