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TARSUS

tarsus_s.jpg (10235 bytes)St. Paulís birthplace of Tarsus is one of the oldest settlements in Cilicia. Excavators, working on the mound rising in the northwest quarter of the city have un-covered evidence of settlements here in the Chalcolitic (fourth millennium BC), Early Bronze, Hittite, Hellenistic and Roman periods.

Alexander the Great marched through southern Anatolia in 334 BC on the route to his lightning conquest of the East. He stopped long enough in Tarsus to catch what was almost his death of cold swimming in the Cydnus River (Tarsus tarsus3_s.jpg (11101 bytes)«ayż). When his empire was divided, the southern portion fell to his general Seleucis Nikator. In 66 BC the government of the province of Cilicia - and of Tarsus as the capital - passed from Seleucid administration to that of Rome. Mark Antony made it a city free of some taxations, perhaps because he had been captivated by one of the ageís more popular flirts, Cleopatra, who sailed into Tarsus to meet him with all her flags flying.

According to Plutarch, Cleopatra arrived "... sailing up the river Cyndus in a barge with gilded stern, outspread sails of purple, and silver oars moving in time to the sound of flutes, pipes and harps. Dressed like Aphrodite, the goddess of love Cleopatra lay beneath an awning bespangled with gold, while the boys like painted cupids stood at each side fanning her."

The Emperor Julian the Apostate was buried in Tarsus after his defeat in his battles with the Persians in 364. The place of that grave is no longer known. The Emperor tarsus1.jpg (8551 bytes)Trajan also died here, and his heir, Hadrian who was with him, assumed the power.

The most famous person associated with Tarsus in religious history is Paul the Apostle. Paul was born a Jew of the tribe of Benjamin in Tarsus about AD 10 and spent his early years here. His father was a Roman citizen; Paul inherited that citizenship and its rights.

Tarsus originally was a seaport on a lagoon at the mouth of the Cydnus River. But, during the reign of Justinian in the 5 century, the course of the river was altered in a vain attempt to save the city from periodic flooding antarsus2_s.jpg (10426 bytes)d to stave off the demise of Tarsus as a port.

The most striking evidence of the Hellenistic and Roman wall of Tarsus is the west city gate called popularly either Cleopatraís Gate or St. Paulís Gate.

Some traditions are associated with an old structure known as Saint Paulís Well. Numerous people believe that the water from the well has healing properties.

 
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