Storied structures in Turkish city of Adana infuse simple strolls with awe
Stars and Stripes March 30, 2023
Just a short cab ride from Incirlik Air Base in Turkey, a centuries-old Roman bridge offers visitors the chance to walk in the footsteps of past civilizations — and soak in great views at the same time.
I visited the stone bridge at dawn as part of a quick trip to downtown Adana prior to catching a flight. My journey allowed me to see many of the city’s sights in a short time.
The bridge was illuminated from underneath by colorful lights. I waited to walk across until the sun had risen above the ancient city of nearly 2 million people.
Dating back to a Hittite settlement founded in approximately 1400 B.C., Adana has become a testament to the march of time.
The Romans are said to have built the stone bridge across the Seyhan River almost 2,000 years ago. The Umayyads, the Ottomans and contemporary Turks have walked across it in the millennia since.
And now, as a modern tourist, it was my turn to walk across the 1,056-foot-long span. I lingered in the center. The bridge is open to foot traffic, and it seems many people used it for the most prosaic of reasons: to get to work.
I watched as people sped by on their bikes and pushed their bread carts across. It was cool to see that the bridge is not some historical curio but a functioning part of a modern city.
My perch afforded me a vantage point of the Sabanci Central Mosque in the distance, its six minarets soaring toward the heavens. Located about a half-mile from the bridge, the mosque is the second-largest in Turkey.
With its 177-foot-high main dome and a capacity to host more than 28,000 worshippers, the mosque dominates the skyline as seen from the bridge.
I went there after traversing the bridge and walked around. Visitors are welcome at the mosque as long as they are dressed modestly. This means men should cover their shoulders and legs, and women should do the same but also cover their heads.
A short walk from the mosque is Adana’s archaeological museum, whose diverse collection offers yet another glimpse of bygone lives. Although it is temporarily closed, images of some items displayed there can be seen on its website.
Among its treasures are gold and silver jewelry, Roman-era sarcophagi and a crystal depiction of the Hittite god Tarhunda.
Merkez Park, an 82-acre expanse of public greenery surrounding the mosque, was the area I enjoyed the most for its serenity. I watched as families enjoyed the morning and a breeze drifted through rows of citrus trees.
Then a car zoomed by, and I was reminded that the serenity coexists with a lot of crazy drivers. If I’d had more time, I would have ordered a meal at one of the many kebab or coffee shops in town.
In just a few hours, though, I managed to fit in an invigorating morning walk and a sampling of Adana’s enticing blend of antiquity and modernity.
On the QT
Location of mosque: Near the intersection of Fuzuli Caddesi and Turhan Cemal Beriker Bulvar in Adana, Turkey
Hours: The mosque and bridge are open to visitors every day of the week. Prayer times at the mosque vary, but generally first call is before dawn and last call is after sunset.