Cilician Gates

Cilician Gates

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The Cilician Gates or Gülek Pass is a pass
Mountain pass
A mountain pass is a route through a mountain range or over a ridge. If following the lowest possible route, a pass is locally the highest point on that route...

 through the Taurus Mountains
Taurus Mountains
Taurus Mountains are a mountain complex in southern Turkey, dividing the Mediterranean coastal region of southern Turkey from the central Anatolian Plateau. The system extends along a curve from Lake Eğirdir in the west to the upper reaches of the Euphrates and Tigris rivers in the east...

 connecting the low plains of Cilicia
Cilicia
In antiquity, Cilicia was the south coastal region of Asia Minor, south of the central Anatolian plateau. It existed as a political entity from Hittite times into the Byzantine empire...

 to the Anatolian Plateau, by way of the narrow gorge of the Gökoluk River. Its highest elevation is about 1000m.

The Cilician Gates have been a major commercial and military artery for millennia. In the early 20th century, a narrow-gauge railway was built through them, and today, the Tarsus-Ankara Highway (E90
European route E90
European route E 90 is an A-Class West-East European route, extending from Lisbon in Portugal in the west to the Turkish-Iraqi border in the east.-Itinerary:...

, O-21
Otoyol 21
Otoyol 21 , abbreviated as , aka Ankara-Tarsus Otoyolu or currently Kemerhisar-Tarsus Otoyolu or , is a partly complete toll motorway in the Central Anatolia and Mediterranean regions in Turkey. Currently, it is connecting Kemerhisar in Niğde Province with the Adana-Erdemli Motorway at Tarsus in...

) passes through them.

The southern end of the Cilician gates is about 44 km north of Tarsus and the northern end leads to Cappadocia
Cappadocia
Cappadocia is a historical region in Central Anatolia, largely in Nevşehir Province.In the time of Herodotus, the Cappadocians were reported as occupying the whole region from Mount Taurus to the vicinity of the Euxine...

.

History


Yumuktepe
Yumuktepe
Yumuktepe is a tumulus at within the city borders of Mersin, Turkey. In 1936 the tumulus was at the outskirts of Mersin. But after the rapid increase of population, now the tumulus is in the Toroslar municipality of Mersin....

 (modern Mersin
Mersin
-Mersin today:Today, Mersin is a large city spreading out along the coast, with Turkey's second tallest skyscraper , huge hotels, an opera house, expensive real estate near the sea or up in the hills, and many other modern urban...

), which guards the Adana side of the gateway, with 23 layers of occupation, is at 4,500 BCE, one of the oldest fortified settlements in the world. The ancient pathway was a track for mule caravans, not wheeled vehicles. In ancient history the Hittites
Hittites
The Hittites were a Bronze Age people of Anatolia.They established a kingdom centered at Hattusa in north-central Anatolia c. the 18th century BC. The Hittite empire reached its height c...

, Greeks
Ancient Greece
Ancient Greece is a civilization belonging to a period of Greek history that lasted from the Archaic period of the 8th to 6th centuries BC to the end of antiquity. Immediately following this period was the beginning of the Early Middle Ages and the Byzantine era. Included in Ancient Greece is the...

, Alexander the Great, the Romans
Ancient Rome
Ancient Rome was a thriving civilization that grew on the Italian Peninsula as early as the 8th century BC. Located along the Mediterranean Sea and centered on the city of Rome, it expanded to one of the largest empires in the ancient world....

, Mongols
Mongols
Mongols ) are a Central-East Asian ethnic group that lives mainly in the countries of Mongolia, China, and Russia. In China, ethnic Mongols can be found mainly in the central north region of China such as Inner Mongolia...

, and the Crusaders
Crusaders
The Crusaders are a New Zealand professional rugby union team based in Christchurch that competes in the Super Rugby competition. They are the most successful team in Super Rugby history with seven titles...

 have all traveled this route during their campaigns. The Bible testifies that Saint Paul of Tarsus
Paul of Tarsus
Paul the Apostle , also known as Saul of Tarsus, is described in the Christian New Testament as one of the most influential early Christian missionaries, with the writings ascribed to him by the church forming a considerable portion of the New Testament...

 and Silas
Silas
Saint Silas or Saint Silvanus was a leading member of the Early Christian community, who later accompanied Paul in some of his missionary journeys....

 went this way as they went through Syria and Cilicia. The Galatians
Epistle to the Galatians
The Epistle of Paul to the Galatians, often shortened to Galatians, is the ninth book of the New Testament. It is a letter from Paul of Tarsus to a number of Early Christian communities in the Roman province of Galatia in central Anatolia...

 Speaks of the cities of Derbe
Derbe
Derbe is an ancient city in today's Turkey. This city is mentioned in the biblical book of Acts - , and was situated near ancient Lystra.- Location :...

, Lystra
Lystra
Lystra was a city in what is now modern Turkey. It is mentioned five times in the New Testament. It was visited a few times by the Apostle Paul, along with Barnabas or Silas.-Location:...

 and Iconium - cities visited by Paul on his first journey (Acts 14; Gal. 1:2), with the purpose of strengthening their churches, at the beginning of the second preaching journey (Acts 15:40-41).

The distance from the Anatolian plateau to the Cilician plain is about 110 km. In ancient times this was a journey of nearly five days. Saint Paul spoke, according to the Bible, about being in "dangers from rivers" and "dangers from robbers" (2 Cor. 11:26). This may explain why at 4.500 BCE, at the South Eastern end of the Cilician Gates was one of the world's first existing fortresses (later Mersin
Mersin
-Mersin today:Today, Mersin is a large city spreading out along the coast, with Turkey's second tallest skyscraper , huge hotels, an opera house, expensive real estate near the sea or up in the hills, and many other modern urban...

). The Army of the Ten Thousand
Ten Thousand (Greek)
The Ten Thousand were a group of mercenary units, mainly Greek, drawn up by Cyrus the Younger to attempt to wrest the throne of the Persian Empire from his brother, Artaxerxes II...

, Alexander the Great before the Battle of Issus
Battle of Issus
The Battle of Issus occurred in southern Anatolia, in November 333 BC. The invading troops, led by the young Alexander of Macedonia, defeated the army personally led by Darius III of Achaemenid Persia in the second great battle for primacy in Asia...

, Paul of Tarsus
Paul of Tarsus
Paul the Apostle , also known as Saul of Tarsus, is described in the Christian New Testament as one of the most influential early Christian missionaries, with the writings ascribed to him by the church forming a considerable portion of the New Testament...

 on his way to the Galatia
Galatia
Ancient Galatia was an area in the highlands of central Anatolia in modern Turkey. Galatia was named for the immigrant Gauls from Thrace , who settled here and became its ruling caste in the 3rd century BC, following the Gallic invasion of the Balkans in 279 BC. It has been called the "Gallia" of...

ns, and part of the army of the First Crusade
First Crusade
The First Crusade was a military expedition by Western Christianity to regain the Holy Lands taken in the Muslim conquest of the Levant, ultimately resulting in the recapture of Jerusalem...

 all passed through the Cilician Gates, the site of the medieval fortress of Baberon (or Barbaron), then a stronghold of the medieval Armenian Principality of Cilicia.

When German
Germans
The Germans are a Germanic ethnic group native to Central Europe. The English term Germans has referred to the German-speaking population of the Holy Roman Empire since the Late Middle Ages....

 engineers were working on the railroad link between Haydarpaşa Terminal
Haydarpasa Terminal
The Haydarpaşa Terminal or Haydarpaşa Station is a major intercity rail station and transportation hub in Kadıköy, İstanbul. It is the busiest rail terminal in Turkey and the Middle East and one of the busiest in Eastern Europe. The terminal also has connections to İETT bus and ferry service. The...

 in Istanbul
Istanbul
Istanbul , historically known as Byzantium and Constantinople , is the largest city of Turkey. Istanbul metropolitan province had 13.26 million people living in it as of December, 2010, which is 18% of Turkey's population and the 3rd largest metropolitan area in Europe after London and...

, at the shore of the Sea of Marmara
Sea of Marmara
The Sea of Marmara , also known as the Sea of Marmora or the Marmara Sea, and in the context of classical antiquity as the Propontis , is the inland sea that connects the Black Sea to the Aegean Sea, thus separating Turkey's Asian and European parts. The Bosphorus strait connects it to the Black...

 and Baghdad
Baghdad
Baghdad is the capital of Iraq, as well as the coterminous Baghdad Governorate. The population of Baghdad in 2011 is approximately 7,216,040...

, they were unable to follow the steep-pitched, narrow, and tightly winding ancient track through the pass. The series of viaducts and tunnels they built are among the marvels of railroad engineering. The route was opened in 1918; the narrow-gauge
Narrow gauge
A narrow gauge railway is a railway that has a track gauge narrower than the of standard gauge railways. Most existing narrow gauge railways have gauges of between and .- Overview :...

 working line moved Ottoman
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

 troops and war material to the Mesopotamia
Mesopotamia
Mesopotamia is a toponym for the area of the Tigris–Euphrates river system, largely corresponding to modern-day Iraq, northeastern Syria, southeastern Turkey and southwestern Iran.Widely considered to be the cradle of civilization, Bronze Age Mesopotamia included Sumer and the...

n front in the closing months of World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

.

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