Mersin - Erdemli
HISTORY OF THE DISTRICT
While it was a small neighbourhood part of Silifke District following the declaration of the Turkish Republic it became a district on the 1st of June 1954. It has a significant potential for development in terms of its rich history natural attractions. Situated 37 kilometres west of Mersin Erdemli is a coastal district on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea. Blessed with plenty of historical touristic sights within the district’s borders as well as being a huge citrus producer makes the district’s status all the more important for Mersin. Although unsure where the name Erdemli has originated from, it is said to be named after a Turkoman tribe called Erdemoğulları, who migrated here from Central Anatolia in the 15th century, whose leader was called Erdem Bey. Erdemli has witnessed Hitites, Selefkos, Romans, Byzantines and Egyptians, Karaman Principality and Ottomans. Erdemli used to be a small rural village within the district of Silifke until 1953, it became a district itself after the merger of Yağda village of Silifke with Elvanlı village of Mersin.
Erdemli is a typically pretty Mediterranean village blessed with rich natural beauties. Village is bordered by Mezitli to the east, Silifke to the west Karaman and Konya to the north and Mediterranean Sea to the south. It covers 2.078 sq/km of land, 62 percent of which are forests, 17 percent is agricultural land, 21 percent being forage, stony and rocky landscape.
It is situated in the Kızkalesi District 60 km. to the southwest of Mersin. It is about 25 km. from Silifke. The city, according to the antique era historian Herodotos, was established by a Cypriot prince called Korykos (or Gorgos). The name Korykos becomes apparent on his own coins he cuts after he declaring his independence taking advantage of turmoil in the wake of the death of Anthiokos IV., King of Seleukos around the beginning of 1st century BC. The earliest known information about the area of settlement also covering the harbour from north to southwest, from Elaiussa-Sebaste to the east and Heaven and Hell Caverns to the west date back to the Hellenistic Period. There are visible structures with polygonally weaved masonry work founded on a main body of rock. Invaded by Egyptians for a while, Korykos was claimed back from Egyptians during the reign of Anthiokos III. in the year 197 BC. Became a territory ruled by the Romans in 80 BC but was captured by King Arkhelaos of Cappadocia in year 20 BC. The town served as a major port during Roman and Byzantine sovereignty after that. The settlement had been known as a “polis” (city, town) since the 2nd century BC whereas it was demoted to “kome” (village) status reporting to Sebaste. Much later it faced the destruction of Sassanites during the reign of Shapur I. in 2nd century BC. Rejuvenated again after this period, the era of Korykos is mostly observed in monuments. Hierokles rearranged the town during the 5th century AD, thereby adding Korykos into the cities of Kilikia civilization capital of which being Tarsus. In the year 479 AD, Korykos and Sebaste was invaded by Isaurians. In the 6th century AD, Korykos was made a bishopship attached to Antakya patriarch, ranked under Tarsus. Among the known bishops were Germanus (381 AD), Salustios (431 AD), Iohaninus (680/1 – 690 AD). In an ancient script, the name of Bishop Indakos (516-518 AD) was also observed. There are many inscriptions in Korykos dating back to 5th and 6th centuries AD. There are information about both people’s occupations as well as their Christianity. Again, we learn from these scriptures that Kızkalesi’s status as a prominent harbour town, presence of labourers employed here and their travels to neighbouring Korasion from time time to do some trade. In 690-691 AD, Korykos was still part of Kilikia I state. The town was invaded by Sasanites in early 7th century and fallen into Arabs by the end of the same century. It became part of Seleukeia Tema during the 9th and 10thcenturies. The town’s name was mentioned as “Qurqoa” in the trade routes used by Arabs during 9th and 10th centuries along with Korasion. It is observed that developments had restarted in the year 1099, by when Emperor Alexion I. had ordered Architect Megas Drungarios to build the castle on the land. The said architect had also built Silifke Castle. Both castles were used as a stopover accommodation for those who travelled from Istanbul to the holy lands by sea. In the early 12th century a minor Armenian Prince called Constatin I. had ruled here. Was reclaimed by the Byzantines in the year 1137. In 1163 it became once again a minor Armenian Kingdom. Philip, the King of France stopped here on his way back from pilgrimage. When a Genoan trade vessel was attacked in Korykos in the year 1267 relationship between Genoans and Armenians went sour, then somewhat improved in 1271. The town appears to be of significance as the place where saffron was produced during the reign of Baybars, sultan of Memluks. In 1329, after the murder of Osin the final ruler of Korykos from Hetum dynasty, the city went under the sovereignty of Leon IV. Following the death of Leon IV in 1361, people of Korykos called for help from the Kingdom of Cyprus as they felt threatened by Karamanoğulları principality hence were protected by the Kingdom of Cyprus. Lusignans, who were in Cyprus in 1375 had always been attached to Korykos (???).Korykos was invaded by Ibrahim II of Karamanoğulları pricipality then conquered by the Ottomans in 1473/74 and its prominence diminished in time. In July of 1482, Cem Sultan arrived here from Mersin and stayed in Kızkalesi before he embarked on the ship sent by the Knights of Rhodes then went to Italy via Anamur.
CITY WALL RUINS
CITY WALL RUINS Fortified city walls are described over the head of Tyche on the Korykos coins. These must be depicting the city walls once stood between 1st century BC and 1st century AD. The ruins of this early period city walls are easily distinguishable today. New city walls were first built towards the end of 4th century AD and these fortifications also cover the necropolis area as well.HARBOUR
One of the most prominent areas among the ruins of Korykos is the harbour itself. Korykos harbour was also used by Syrian armada just like Sebaste and Aigaiai.
KIZKALESİ (HARBOUR CASTLE)
The area Kızkalesi also gives its name to the district and sometimes called Harbour Castle. It is built on a small island just off-shore the village. The distance from the shore, although depending on where you are, is approximately 600 metres. According to a scripture found here, we know that it was built by Leon I. in the year 1199. It was captured by the Kingdom of Cyprus in 1361. Strabon mentions that the castle had been used as a refuge by pirates during the Roman Period. This castle was considered by Byzantines and Armenians equally important as the one on land. The entrance to the castle is situated in the northern façade. Mixed materials were employed in the construction. Some parts of the castle, where rubble stones were seen to be used, most probably dates back to Lusignan period. On the castle walls, upon which 192 metres long loopholes were opened, there are eight towers in varying triangular, rectangular and circular shapes. There is a well-preserved gallery that stretches along the length of the western wall with a door that opens to the sea. During a cleaning excavation conducted by Mersin Museum, a complex of structures was discovered in the central courtyard of the castle. There appears to be a chapel as well within these structures. This chapel that is incorporated with the complex of structures, discovered to be much older than the chapel situated in the courtyard of the castle. Along with the floor mosaics, opus sectile floor decorations were used in the chapel. Surrounding rooms open into the reception area in the middle and the floors of the square shaped rooms elevate towards the north. Inside the circular hair plaid, found on the floor mosaic there is a scripture consisted of five lines and there is also another script on the portico towards the western corner of the courtyard. However, the number of scripts is thought to be higher. There are also cisterns and workshops within the courtyard of the castle. There is a tale attached to the Kızkalesi which is also told for other places (i.e. Kız Kulesi in Istanbul):Once upon a time there was a king. He went to a fortune teller to find out what the future holds for his one and only beloved daughter. Upon learning that she would be bitten to death by a snake, he builds this castle for the princess. Thinking that he ensured her safety, king sends the princess a basketful of grapes. However, there was a snake hidden in the basket, which bites and kills the princess.”