Silifke is a town and district in the south central Mersin Province of Turkey, 80 kilometers west of the city of Mersin on the west end of Çukurova. Silifke is near the Mediterranean coast, on the banks of the Göksu River, which flows from the nearby Taurus Mountains. Silifke was formerly called Seleucia on the Calycadnus. The city got its name from its founder, King Seleucus I Nicator. The ancient city of Olba was also within the boundaries of modern day Silifke. The economy of the district depends on agriculture, tourism and livestock husbandry. The town of Silifke is as a market for the produce of the coastal plain, which produces beans, peanuts, sesame, banana, orange, lemon, cotton, grapes, lentils, olives, tobacco, and various other fruits and vegetables. An irrigation project located at Silifke feeds the fertile Göksu Delta. In recent years there has been a large investment in greenhouses for the production of strawberries and other fruit and vegetables during the winter season. Silifke is also an industrial town, well-connected with other urban areas producing beverages, chemicals, clothes, footwear, glass, plastics, pottery, and textiles.
Located a few miles from the mouth of the Göksu River, (Calycadnus in antiquity) Seleucia was founded by Seleucus I Nicator in the early 3rd century BC - one of several cities he named after himself. It is probable that there were already towns called Olbia (or Olba) and Hyria and that Seleucus I merely united them and giving them his name. The city grew to include the nearby settlement of Holmi (modern day Taşucu) which had been established earlier as an Ionian colony but being on the coast was vulnerable to raiders and pirates. The new city up river was doubtless seen as being safer against attacks from the sea. Therefor Seleucia achieved considerable commercial prosperity as a port for this corner of Cilicia was even a rival of Tarsus.
Cilicia thrived as a province of the Romans, and Seluecia became a religious center with a renowned 2nd century Temple of Jupiter. It was also the site of a noted school of philosophy and literature - the birthplace of peripatetics Athenaeus and Xenarchus. The stone bridge was built by the governor L.Octavius Memor in 77 AD and around 300 AD Isauria was established as an independent state with Seleucia as the capital. Early Christian bishops held Councils of Seleucia in 325, 359, and 410. Seleucia was famous for the tomb of the virgin Saint Thecla of Iconium, converted by Saint Paul, who died at Seleucia. This tomb was one of the most celebrated in the Christian world and was restored several times by the Emperor Zeno in the 5th century among others. Today the ruins of the tomb and its sanctuary are called Meriamlik. In the 5th century the imperial governor in residence at Seleucia had two legions at his disposal, the Legio II Isaura and the Legio III Isaura. From this period, and perhaps later, dates the Christian necropolis located west of the town, which contains many tombs of Christian soldiers. According to the Notitia Episcopatuum of Antioch, in the 6th century, the Metropolitan of Seleucia had twenty-four suffragan sees. Then in 705 Seleucia was captured by the Arab armies of Islam and was recovered by the Byzantines. Thus by 732 nearly all the ecclesiastical provinces of Isauria were incorporated into the Patriarchate of Constantinople.
In 968 Antioch again fell into the power of the Byzantines, and with the Province of Isauria, Seleucia was allocated to the Patriarchate of Antioch. Several metropolitans of this see are known - the first of whom, Agapetus, attended the Council of Nicaea in 325; Neonas was at the Council of Seleucia in 359; Symposius at the Council of Constantinople in 381; Dexianus at the Council of Ephesus in 431; Basil, a celebrated orator and writer, whose conduct was rather ambiguous at the Second Council of Ephesus and at the beginning of the Council of Chalcedon in 451; Theodore was at the Fifth Ecumenical Council in 553; Macrobius at the Sixth Ecumenical Council and the Council in Trullo in 692.
Seleucia remains a titular see of the Roman Catholic Church, but the seat is currently vacant following the death of the last bishop in 1971. In the 11th century, the city was captured by the Seljuk Turks; they met with resistance and in 1137, Seluecia was besieged by Leon of Cilician Armenia. During this period of struggle between Armenians, Byzantines, Crusaders and Turks a stronghold was built on the heights overlooking the city. On June 10, 1190, the Emperor Frederick Barbarossa was drowned trying to cross the Calycadnus, near Seleucia during the Third Crusade.
In the 13th century Seleucia was in the possession of the Hospitallers, who lost it to the Karamanid Principality in the second half of the 13th century, and then it ended up in the hands of the Ottomans under general Gedik Ahmet Pasha in 1471.
Up until 1930 Silifke was the capital of İçel Province, but then, allegedly as a punishment for voting for the opposition party (Serbest Cumhuriyet Fırkası) in the general election of that year, İçel and Mersin provinces were merged. The merged province took the name of İçel but with its administrative center at Mersin. Finally in 2002 the name of İçel was replaced with that of Mersin.
Silifke has a mediterranean climate with hot and dry summers and mild and wet winters.
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