We know that Alexander was not the first to use the Cilisian Gates, and that it remained the major Roman Route into the Byzantine Period (there is an earlier milestone in a service station dated to 232 AD)
Being on foot, we have been forced to the West of the Cilisian Gates by the new motorway to Tarsus and Adana, but we find that the new road, is along the line of another ancient one, through limestone country with long histories of settlement and signs of a Roman and later road structures.
However, we are not prepared for the early Roman Road high above the valley to the East, and mentioned to us by a local.
The magnificent and little worn road carries on for a couple of Km, but we have no time to investigate it in detail. Suffice to say that it runs East – West (ish) and appears unrelated to the Cilisian Gates, but instead links an unknown region or settlement on the plateau to the rich coastal plain. It turns at a roughly reconstructed gate (poorly reconstructed by….we think by Tarsus Belediye!) – providing a panoramic view over the Coastal plane, and its Roman settlements, then runs along the scarp towards Tarsus. The surface quickly disappears…
Dropping down very steeply from the limestone Taurus Mountains to the Coastal Plane, we soon enter ugly modern Tarsus, the birthplace of St. Paul. He returned here after his conversion. There is much to say about the history of this ancient City, but with the time available I will point out only the recently found Roman Road – 1st Century AD.
It reminds greatly of the Via Appia, which we used to leave Rome – but it is in fine condition. (It is made from finely jointed black basalt) The lack of wear is interesting, and notable by comparison with the Appia.
Here is a rough panorama which I will improve when time permits.