(Hittite: Tarsa, Greek: Ταρσός, Armenian: Տարսոն, Tarson) is
a historical city in south-central Turkey, 20 km inland from
the Mediterranean Sea. It is part of the Adana-Mersin
Metropolitan Area, the fourth-largest metropolitan area in
Turkey with a population of 2.75 million. Tarsus is an
administrative district in Mersin Province and lies in the
core of the Çukurova region.
With a history going back over 2,000 years, Tarsus has long
been an important stop for traders, a focal point of many
civilisations including the Roman Empire, when Tarsus was
capital of the province of Cilicia, the scene of the first
meeting between Mark Antony and Cleopatra, and the
birthplace of Saint Paul.
Located on the mouth of the Tarsus Çay (Cydnus), which
empties into the Mediterranean Sea, Tarsus is a junction
point of land and sea routes connecting the Cilician plain
(today called Çukurova), central Anatolia and the
Mediterranean sea. The climate is typical of the
Mediterranean region, summers very very hot, winters chilly
Tarsus has a long history of commerce and is still a
commercial centre today, trading in the produce of the
fertile Çukurova plain; also Tarsus is a thriving industrial
centre of refining and processing that produces some for
export. Industries include agricultural machinery, spare
parts, textiles, fruit-processing, brick building and
Agriculture is an important source of income, half of the
land area in the district is farmland (1,050 km²) and most
of the remainder is forest and orchard. The farmland is
mostly well-irrigated, fertilised and managed with the
Tarsus has a great many ancient sites of interest, with many
in need of restoration and research. The best known include:
Cleopatra's Gate - to the west of the city, the only ancient
city gate still standing, where Anthony and Cleopatra
entered the city in 41 BC, though the "restoration" of this
structure has involved covering much of it over with shiny
new stone (see  for a picture of the gate before the work
The Roman bridge of Justinian over the Berdan River. Still
in good condition.
Tarsus Museum - contains lots of ancient coins and a severed
Roman road north of Tarsus
Ancient road another Roman road within Tarsus.
Sites of religious interest and pilgrimage:
The St. Paul's Church and well (a request for its
restitution to Christian worship was declined but has now
apparently been accepted by the authorities- Badische
Neueste Nachrichtungen 26 August 2010).
The tomb of the Seven Sleepers, busy place of pilgrimage for
The mosque said to be the burial place of the Prophet
The ancient story of Pegasus, the winged horse, also
concerns Tarsus. Because of Pegasus' faithful service to
Zeus, Pegasus was honored with a constellation. On the last
day of his life, Zeus transformed him into a constellation,
then a single feather fell to the earth near the city of
From the Turkish era:
The old baths; the dark brown spots on the white marble
walls are said to be the bloodstains of Shah Meran, the
legendary Snake King who was killed in an ambush in the
Tarsus American College; founded in the Ottoman period,
still active today.
"Nusret (Nusrat)" the minelayer used to defend the straits
before the Battle of Gallipoli is being restored in Tarsus;
it is to be part of a memorial park to those lost in the
Places of natural beauty include:
Tarsus Waterfall; since the construction of the Berdan dam
the water of the Tarsus river has been distributed in canals
for irrigation, with the result that the waterfall can now
be seen only in seasons of very heavy rainfall.
Karabucak Forest; popular picnic area a few kilometers south
of the city center
Antipater, Stoic philosopher
Caliph Al-Ma'mun died near Tarsus
CEO of the Coca-Cola Company, Muhtar Kent, attended Tarsus
Journalist Oral Çalışlar was born in Tarsus.
Chrysippus, Stoic philosopher
Lokman the Physician
Saint Nerses of Lambron, Archbishop of Tarsus in the
Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia
Paul the Apostle (Saul of Tarsus), Christian apostle,
missionary, martyr, and saint, was born here and returned
for a brief period later in life.
Saint Theodore of Tarsus, Archbishop of Canterbury.
Tarsus is one of a number of cities that claims to be the
burial place of Bilal ibn Rabah, first muezzin, or caller to
prayer, in Islam.
Tarsus Idman Yurdu is the local football team.
Cuisine: The local cuisine
includes: hummus; şalgam (pickled turnips); tantuni (a
sandwich of grilled meats; the tiny pizzas called "fındık
lahmacun"; and cezerye (a confection made out of carrots).