Mark Anthony once gave part of Turkey's Southern shore to
Cleopatra as wedding gift. Indeed, this coast has
everything befitting so princely a gift.
Set against the often snowcapped peaks of Taurus Mountains
are the seemingly endless stretches of white sand, lapped
by the translucent waters of Mediterranean, which perhaps
because of its crystalline quality, Turks call "Ak
Deniz" or "White Sea".
Verdant shores are covered with pine forests, orange
groves and banana plantations, splashed here and there
with the vivid pink of wild oleanders.
Here legend and history are interwoven into the background
fabric of this colorful region. In the mountains of West
of Antalya is Chimera, the fire-breathing monster that the
hero Bellerophon slew.
Behind Antakya are the bay trees of the gardens of Daphne,
where the nymph was turned into bay tree by Zeus to escape
the amorous advances of Apollo. Turning to more historical
facts, it was from Tarsus that St. Paul came, and in Demre,
St. Nicholas or "Father Christmas" once lived.
Like Turkey's Aegean coast, her Meditrranean coast is also
littered with ancient ruins. Atop craggy peak to West of
Antalya, like eagle's nest, are the ruins of Termessos. On
the coastal plains are Pamphylian cities of Perge,
Aspendos and Side.
Perge's great stadium could seat 15,000 and the theatre of
Aspendos is the best preserved in Anatolia, while the
ruins of Side are elegantly set on promontary between two
The major resort city of the region is Antalya, which
possesses one of the finest setting on Meditrranean, with
the crescent of Konyaalti Beach, sweeping away to the
precipitous Lycian mountains in West.
To the East of the city is Lara Beach, near where Duden
Waterfalls plunge off a cliff into the sea. It is founded
in 2nd century BC and has pretty yacht harbor and is
dominated by the curious Fluted Minaret.
West of Antalya is the attractive resort of Kemer, where
pine woods stretch right down to the sandy shore and near
which are the ruins of ancient Phaselis.
East of Antalya is a whole string resorts, beginning with
Side. Further along the coast is the former pirate
stronghold of Alanya, which Seljuk Sultan Alaeddin
Keykubad made his winter residence. Commanding a rugged promontory
between two sandy beaches is an imposing 13th century
Seljuk castle. At Anamur, Southernmost point of Asia
Minor, there is yet another mediaeval castle set between
The road from Anamur to Silifke clings to pine clad
mountain slopes, which plunge spectacularly down into
Mediterranean. Running through Silifke is Goksu River, the
ancient Calycadnos, where Emperor Frederick Barbarossa
drowned in the Third Crusade.
Beyond Silifke are the chasms known as "Heaven and
Hell", which are in fact collapsed caverns. In the
chasm of "Heaven" is a ruined Byzantine chapel.
A little way on, at the pretty resort of Korykos, there is
mediaeval castle on the shore, facing another one on an
More broken columns and fallen capitols mark the sites of
such Roman as Kanytelis and Pompeiopolis on the way to
Mersin. Though Mersin has the appearance of modern port
city, the site is ancient, dating back to Paleolithic
From Tarsus, the land flattens out into the cotton growing
Cukurova Plain. In the middle of the plain is the
prosperous city of Adana, the center of Turkey's cotton
The Eastern part of Cukurova Plain was known in classical
times as the Plain of Issos, and it was here that
Alexander the Great defeated Darius. After this victory,
Alexander founded the port of Alexandretta, now called
Iskenderun. From Iskenderun, the road leads through Belen
Pass to Antakya, Biblical Antioch, where St. Peter founded
the first Christian community. The grotto, where he
preached, can be seen just outside the town.