Like so many other cities in Turkey, Mersin has changed its official name. The official name now is İçel, but apparently everybody is sticking with the old name Mersin. Mersin with a population of about 750,000 is the capital of the province of İçel and is a sprawling modern city built half a century ago. It is Anatolia's main port and gateway to the Mediterranean. The port of Mersin is of particular importance to nearby Adana and its rich agricultural hinterland of the Çukurova.
Mersin is a pleasant stopping point along the Mediterranean coast close to Adana, Tarsus, and Kızkalesi with a charming city center along the pedestrianized Atatürk Caddesi, a broad boulevard along the waterfront and a large marina.
We came to Mersin in 2004 and stayed two nights at the Hotel Gökhan at Soğuksu (Cold Water) Caddesi 20 (Tel. +90-(0)324/231 6256). We paid about 17 € for a large, actually huge, single with air-con and TV (forget Lonely Planet's minibar). Close to the hotel are some fish restaurants of which the Balıkçı Yaşar Fish Restaurant serves tasteful portions of small fish. The çiğ köfte sold by an elder man in the adjacent street proved to be not only safe but moreover extremely delicious. Also recommended is the Taşhan Antik Gallerya between Uray Caddesi and Ismet Inönü Caddesi, which is a popular collection of bars and cafes where you can sit outside.