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  • hbanziger

B + 12 : Alexander's Launch Site to Victory

Updated: Apr 14, 2021

It is going to be a long, open-water sailing day today. To avoid the industrial port and town of Mersin we decided to sail straight east. After 50 nautical miles of open water we would hit land again on the combined, huge delta of the Seyhan (Saros) and Ceytan (Pyramos) rivers.

The flatlands of Cilicia were know by the Greeks under the name Cilicia Pedias (flat Cilicia). it was always well watered and had abundant millet, olives and sesame. The fertile land was settled since the neolithic and the hilly rocks - scattered all over the plain - fortified. Cilicia Pedias was part of the Hittite Empire, then was conquered by the Assyrians. It produced much of the grain the Persian Empire needed and it was here that the Persian King of Kings made his last stand against Alexander the Great. Cilicia was at the heart of the ancient Persian Empire. Our destination for tonight is the city of Megarsus from where Alexander launched his offensive which led to his victory at Issus - near today's Osmaniye.

After a few hours of sailing, land is in sight again - we can see the cliffs of Megarsus. We had to stay 2 miles offshore because the water was so shallow

Landing at Alexander's Fish Restaurant which went out of business a few years ago - Megarsus begins just on the top of the cliffs

it was quite a spooky landing in this deserted but well kept paradise - after a good minute we were welcomed by barking dogs but they were friendly, wagging tails and just curious

We were greeted by Hashid, the resort keeper, and his shy daughter. Nicest men ever who showed us the way even though he spoke no English. But sign language worked.

First thing we noticed was the space carved out for the Hippodrome - just to the right of the olive tree. But no single stone was visible. Are the ruins still buried under silt or had the town been thoroughly dismantled? Nobody was on the site. It was as if we just had discovered it.

There was a little archeological dig at the theatre but nobody was there either. But a tent tattered by the wind indicated that there must be some digging from time to time. Someone must have removed the dirt. It seems that Turkish Authorities favour archeological sites close to tourist centres - other places are pretty much untouched.

It was time to get back to the boat. We did not want to stay out in the open water for the night and decided to sail to Yumurtalik.

Megarsus was Alexander the Great's last stop before the decisive battle of Issus where the Persian King of Kings lost his empire in 333 BC


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