Situated next to the Tarsus River, in the Clicia plains of southern Anatolia. The Tarsus’ name in the Luwian language is “Tarrasa“, meaning “River Shore Castle“. The first settlement in the region was west of the Tarsus River, in the place known today as 7 Uyurlar, slightly higher than the river, at the Gözlü Tower Mound to the west. The name of the city was later changed to Tarsos. Here, the archeaological excavations found prehistoric artefacts, confirming this thesis. The city had an important commercial position in the Hittite period, and was ransacked by the Assyrians, rivals of the Hittites in 1255. It was later ruled by the Persiansi Macedonians, Romans, and Byzantines, and became the capital of the Cilica region and an important science, philosophy and cultural centre.
Marcus Antonius who came to Tarsus in 44. B.C. and had his mythological love affair Cleopatra here, and the Cleopatra Gate was built at the entrance of the city in memory of this. Durng the Byzantine priod, due to the religios importance of the 7 Uyurlar Cave, and the fact that it was a capital, Tarsus became an episcopal centre, and was invaded by the Umayyads in 637 and then occupied by Crusaders in 1907. It then passed into the hands of the Razamazanoğlu, Dulkadiroğlu and Memluk Turks who came to the region.
The most important works in the city today are the three arched Cleopatra Gate, the Romand Bridge and the house St. Paul was born in and the Paul Church and Holy Water Well. Works extracted from the region are exhibited in the Museum of Tarsus. 52 km north of Tarsus, at a height of 1050 m.., on the Taurus Mountains, is the fammous Cilician Strait / Gülek Strait that connects inner Anatolia to Çukurova.
Tarsus Turkey Known for: Eshab-i Keyf holy cave, and the cilica gateway known as portacilicia (i.e the Gülek Strait).