Once upon a time it was a pirates´ lair

The ancient city of Soli is by the sea at 14 km west of the city centre of the Mersin province. It was established by the Rhodian colonists in the year of 7 BC. The city was named “Soli” meaning the sun.

Soli was an important city for Persians that captured Cilicia in the period of Darius (521-485 BC). Coins were minted in the name of Soli. The Athenians occupied Cilicia for a period of time during the Greco-Persian War and made Soli the control centre however they gave Soli back to the Persians after a year. Alexander who was going on the Asian campaign freed Soli from the Persians in 333 BC.

The city prospered in trade to Cyprus and Egypt during the ancient times. Soli was remained under the control of Cilician pirates.

The Roman Empire appointed Pompey the Great to put an end to the piracy in the Mediterranean Sea. The city was reconstructed to commemorate the successful victory and renamed as Pompeipolis.

After the conversion to Christianity in the Byzantine Empire as the official religion, Soli was appointed as the Episcopal centre. It was completely ruined because of the big earthquake in 527.

The people of Soli tried to be rebuild the city however they could not and abandoned the city because of the intensification of the Sassanian and Islamic-Arabian invasions. This is why the ancient city is also called Viranşehir (The Ruined City).

In that period there were structures such as harbour, colonnaded street, theatre, Roman bath, city wall, necropolis, aqueducts in the city. 41 columns of the road starting from the mountain gate to the sea gate with 200 Corinthian columns are still standing. 33 of them with capital were adorned with the reliefs of human, lion and eagle. Today you can see the archaeological ruins of the port, the bath and the aqueduct.