Mersin (MEHR-seen, population 1.5 million) is the capital of the province of İçel, and the major port for shipments to and from the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus(maps). In fact, the city of Mersin is sometimes called İçel (EE-chell).
It has good hotels—even a Hilton—so you can stay here comfortably enough. If you do, have a look at the space-age Great Mosque (Ulu Cami) on the main square of Customhouse Square (Gümrük Meydanı), an unusually modern place of worship in this land slavishly devoted to the great age of Ottoman architecture.
Also peek into the Atatürk House (Atatürk Evi, closed Sunday), a stone house used by Kemal Atatürk on his visits; and the small museum (closed Monday).
Ferries cross the water between Mersin and Magusa(Famagusta) in northern Cyprus several days each week carrying cars and passengers (buy your tickets at least a day in advance).
Distances & Travel Times
Adana: 55 km (34 miles) E, 45 minutes
Alanya: 385 km (239 miles) W, 7 hours
Anamur: 260 km (162 miles) W, 4.5 hours
Ankara: 490 km (305 miles) NW, 9 hours
Antakya: 245 km (152 miles) SE, 3.75 hours
İskenderun: 177 km (110 miles) SE, 3.25 hours
Istanbul: 932 km (579 miles) NW, 15 hours
Osmaniye: 130 km (81 miles) E, 1.75 hour
Silifke: 100 km (62 miles) W, 1.5 hours
Tarsus: 23 km (14 miles) E, 20 minutes
—by Tom Brosnahan