I think we have already established that Mersin province is full of ancient sites. On Saturday (and before the shite hit the fan at home) I went to Viranşehir (Ruined City) to meet with my friend Alana.
For me Viranşehir was a bit of a track from our home in the Village (probably about 60 minutes on public transport) but for anyone staying in Mersin it is located about 20 minutes from the Forum or 30 minutes from the Otogar (catch the Eğriçam bus). It is quite central. Viranşehir is a residential area jam packed with high rise apartments blocks and shopping centres so to discover the Roman ruins of Soli Pompeiopolis smack in the middle of this residential area is certainly a surprise.
Sidenote – One of my main issues with Mersin Turizm is that they have virtually no information for a tourist visiting this city or the area. If you are a history buff there is abundance of ruins and archaeological sites to explore but with little or no information it is incredibly difficult to visit or even to be aware of its existence and Soli Pompeiopolis is the perfect example. The only reason I knew of it is that Alana had put some photos up on her FB page.
I digress though, let me talk about this site.
Soli Pompeiopolis was once a large town and a most important harbour. It was the capital of a Persian province before succumbing to the Greeks, Alexander the Great and King Antiochus III. After all this carnage Soli recovered with the arrival of Roman Pompey who renamed the town Pompeiopolis (because he was obviously full of himself) who, not only held off the Persian Army, also used it as a base for fighting the pirates that preyed on boats in the area. In 527AD Pompeiopolis was flattened by an earthquake and eventually the town was left to disrepair. Today the main, and frankly the only thing that you can view as the ruins are surrounded by wire fencing, is the Colonnaded Street (cardo maximum). It is over 350m long with Corinthian columns and I imagine it would have been very grand in its time drawing you down towards the harbour. There is also a theatre, harbour, a bath and the monumental tomb of Aratos currently under excavation. Archaeologists have found many coins, pottery and other artefacts of interest which are currently on display at Mersin Museum.
As mentioned the Turkish Government is currently undertaking excavations on the site and in fact there is talk of building an archaeology museum to incorporate the site nearby which, for a history buff like myself (yes little known fact), would be great.
As you can only view the ruins from the street there is little to hold your interest. If, however, you make a day of it and incorporate a pleasant walk along the promenade, visit a couple of the bars for an ice cold beer (which Alana and I did) or perhaps have a picnic at one of the many beaches then it is a day well spent.
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We criticise the government for many things but the amount of archaeological excavation going on is fantastic.
I like the idea of another museum in Mersin too. Bring it on.
Good post. Hubby and I like visiting old churches and if they are in ruins, trying to imagine how they looked in their prime.
Imagination is wonderful, maybe that’s why official information is so scant, kind of a DIY job in history!
It would be nice to think that the Turkish Govt is giving us the opportunity to use our imagination but I suspect it is just more of the case of it going into the ‘too hard. basket. After all why do today when it can be put off until forever!
We were probably within 500 meters of each other this weekend. I was by those little boats twice on Saturday and Sunday!
Hmmm maybe you could start a tourism business of Mersin?! I’d come and then drink and eat…perfect!
I’m still working on a post about the food. Here’s hoping you are blown away!
I’m sure I will be, hey my Turkish friend here is going to give me a cooking lesson on these little meat parcels you posted…I’m so excited!! She make me Turkish meatballs the other night yum!
Excellent! I can’t wait to see the results.
Awesome post and such great information. I am a wannabe tourist, so reading this is wonderful.
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