Tarsus is a truly wonderful town for those who choose to look. Set against the backdrop of hundreds of years of history and beautiful natural scenery, the city possesses a rich, unique cuisine and offers plenty of activities for outdoor enthusiasts, from bike riders to mountain trekkers.
As soon as you step out of the door of the Tarsus American College (TAC) campus, you are surrounded by historic pine trees pointing toward the 10,000-year-old Gözlukule tumulus on the hilltop. From that hilltop – once a port city – you can survey the view over Tarsus.
Tarsus is a place of myth and legend that pervades the city. If you enter further, Cleopatra may even greet you at the door.
While perhaps giggling at the idea that you are in the location where Antony and Cleopatra enjoyed their famous hidden encounter, you will also behold the half-snake, half-human body of Şahmeran around Tarsus.
As Tarsus is the place of Saint Paul’s birth, it’s not surprising that there are thousands of visitors to Saint Paul’s church and spring every year. The fact that the icons in the church are unique, without any duplicates, makes the place of worship even more special.
Saint Paul’s Well and the Seven Sleepers’ Cave are also an inseparable part of Tarsus. In the cave, which is believed by many to be divine, you’ll be amazed by its 300-square-meter size, where the Seven Men are believed to have slept for 300 years to escape pagan persecution and the forced worship of idols.
In a way, Tarsus is a city of the senses. The sounds of children mix with birds chirping and the sounds of the waterfall, which presents the beauty of nature. The waterfall is located close to the center of town and it’s a perfect spot for a dinner while gazing at the sunset. Smells and tastes blend with each other as you stroll through the bazaar and you are surrounded by the authentic smell of renovated Tarsus houses.
In spring, the delicious aroma of tantuni from street stalls mixes with the scent of orange flowers, the smell of pine trees and the whisper of palm trees. The hummus and lahmacun made in small local restaurants are also amazing, while the fruits and vegetables that grow in Tarsus’ fertile land are always delectable. In winter you can easily get your fill of oranges and mandarins.
When the weather warms up you can sample the very best strawberry juice at Çilek 76, a store with strawberries growing on the field just behind, alongside the Adana-Tarsus road. The grapes that grow in Tarsus’ vineyards are also excellent, and it won’t take you long to develop an addiction to “kahke” (a cookie with sesame from Tarsus) or tahini cookies.
Tantuni is delicious in all parts of town, but for those studying at the Tarsus American College, “Haluk Abi” is unique. The place has become so legendary that you’ll probably see pictures of Haluk Abi with former students. Indeed, students at the Tarsus American College all develop a special bond with Tarsus. It is a city that won’t give you any snow, but it will let you collect more than enough memories to make you smile. It also ensures a long, long summer and plenty of rainbows after the rain.