Erdemli – Mersin – Turkey

GPS : 36°29’05.0″N 34°10’43.9″E / 36.484712, 34.178867

Ayaş, is a Mediterranean coastal town and a part of Erdemli district which is a part of Mersin Province. It is on Turkish state highway D.400. Distance to Mersin is 55 kilometres (34 mi) and to Erdemli is 18 kilometres (11 mi). The town is situated at the coast and there are two beaches of touristic potential.

Ayaş had been inhabited since the ancient ages. Ancient Ayaş was actually an island named Elaiussa and a town on the shore facing the island named Sebaste. Archelaus of Cappadocia had a palace in Elaiussa. But island had since been joined the main land because of alivion accumulation. During middle age, Elaiussa Sebaste lost its former importance.

After 12th century the ruins of the former town became a battle ground between The Kingdom of Cilicia and the Karamanids. The area around the former town was incorporated into Ottoman Empire in the 15th century and it became the grazing area of a nomadic Turkmen tribe named Ayaş. A part of the tribe was settled in the village named after Ayaş.

Like most towns around Ayaş economy depends on vegetable agriculture. But there are hotels, beaches and summer houses around and tourism begins to play a role in town economy.

Health : State Hospital, Health Center, Doctors, Nurses, Pharmacies, Dentists
Accommodation : Hotels, Motels, Pensions, Rental Houses
Shopping : Markets, Shops, Stores, Fish Market
Communication : Post Office, Phone, Internet
Hair dresser
Beach : Yemişkumu, Merdivenkuyu
Dining : Fish Restaurants, Cafes, Buffets, Restaurants, Bakeries, Tea Gardens
Repairing & Maintenance Workshops : City
Technical Equipment Shops : City
Special Shopping : Banana, Lemon

Elaiussa Sebaste or Elaeousa Sebaste was an ancient Roman town located 55 km (34 mi) from Mersin in the direction of Silifke in Cilicia on the southern coast of Anatolia (in modern-day Turkey). Elaiussa, meaning olive, was founded in the 2nd century B.C. on a tiny island attached to the mainland by a narrow isthmus in Mediterranean Sea.

Besides the cultivation of olives, the settlement here of the Cappadocian king Archelaus during the reign of the Roman Emperor Augustus played a role in the development of the city. Founding a new city on the isthmus, Archelaus called it Sebaste, which is the Greek equivalent word of the Latin “Augusta”. The city entered a golden age when the Roman Emperor Vespasian purged Cilicia of pirates in 74 AD.

Towards the end of the 3rd century AD however its importance began to wane, owing in large part to incursions by the Sassanian King Shapur I in 260 and later by the Isaurians. The ancient sources tell the history of city’s existence and how the churches and basilicas survived into the late Roman and early Byzantine periods. When its neighbor Corycus began to flourish in the 6th century AD, Elaiussa Sebaste was slowly obliterated from the stage of history.

The island that was the site of the first settlement here, where excavations have been underway since 1995 headed by Italian archeologist Eugenia Equini Schneider, is almost completely buried under sand. The original settlement, at a location that provided security for the harbors on either side, is a peninsula today. The ruins of a bath, a cistern, a defense wall and a breakwater can be seen on the side overlooking the western bay of the peninsula. But the most important remains unearthed in the city are a bath whose floor is paved with mosaics and a small basilica on a circular base.

On the opposite side of the highway D.400 that divides Elaiussa and Sebaste today stands a theater dating to the 2nd century AD, an extremely small structure with only 23 rows of seats, whose steps and decorations unfortunately succumbed to centuries of plunder. Next to the theater is the agora, built in all great probability during the imperial period. At the entrance of the agora, which is surrounded by a semi-destroyed defense wall once rose two monumental fountains in the shape of lions. Inside the agora stands a large church, its floor is covered by sand to protect the mosaic pavement.

Elaiussa’s only temple stands outside the city on a hill overlooking the sea. Only two of the Corinthian columns of this temple, which had 12 on the long and 6 on the short side originally, are standing today. A large bath complex among the lemon groves between the temple and the agora was built by a technique characteristic of the ancient Roman period and little used in Anatolia.

The ruins of Elaiussa Sebaste also harbor the richest and most impressive necropolis among the cities of ancient Cilicia. The “Avenue of Graves”, located on a hill to the north of the city, preserves close to a hundred graves of various shapes and sizes scattered among the lemon trees. The aesthetic forms of these monumental graves of Cilicia Tracheia are remarkable. The ancient aqueducts that carried water to the ruins from the Lamos “Lemon” river also adorn the city’s two entrances. The aqueduct to the west of the city in particular is in relatively good condition. Centuries ago these aqueduct, as delicate as necklaces, actually formed a canal system that ran all the way to Corycus.

A lidded sarcophagus lies on a small rise exactly opposite the aqueduct. Known as “the Grave of the Princess”, this sarcophagus is a prime example of the Anatolian tomb tradition.

They are clean and have pleasant services. Fishes available due to seasons.


Minibus : Ayaş – Erdemli
Bus : Ayaş – Erdemli, Mersin, Adana, Silifke
Train : Mersin – Adana, Osmaniye, Dörtyol, İskenderun, Islahiye, Elazığ, Kayseri, Ankara, Konya
Airport : Adana Şakirpaşa International Airport, Konya International Airport

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Erdemli/Mersin Province, Turkey

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