since 8000 BC
Tarsus was the most important commercial port in the province of Cilicia since 2300 BC. A few decades before Christ, the Romans granted her the status of a free city with the privileges such a title entailed. Mark Antony and Cleopatra lived in Tarsus in the 1st century BC. The Apostle Paul was born in Tarsus and seemed to be proud of his birthplace. In Jerusalem, as he was being arrested, Saint Paul told the tribune: "I am a Jew and a citizen of the well-known city of Tarsus in Cilicia.
Today, Tarsus is a modern city with not very many sights of interest to visitors, but a few
are worthy of mention.
St. Paul's Well is in a courtyard long believed to be the site of St. Paul's house, which is approximately 300 meters north of the Republic Area in Kızılmurat District. Archaeological studies have shown St. Paul's Well and surrounding areas to have Roman, Byzantium and Ottoman Period cultural layers. The site is a pilgrimage destination for some and the water from the well is believed to have healing powers.
The Tarsus Museum contains artworks of the Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman periods, Roman and Byzantine coins, baked soil pots, and metallic materials.
The Cleopatra Gate, in western Tarsus on Mersin road, dates to around 40 BC. In the upper part of Sağlıklı Village, 15 km from Tarsus, are the remains of a Roman Road.
Near Izmir, clinging to a cliff face on a sharp slope near Altindere, is the most important and prestigious monastery of the area: The Virgin of the Black Rock or The Black Virgin.