ADANA, Turkey’s fifth-largest city, with more than 1.5 million inhabitants, sprawls 40km east of Tarsus. A modern place, which has grown rapidly since the 1990s, Adana continues to owe much of its wealth to the surrounding fertile countryside of the Çukurova. Its textile industry has grown up on the back of the local cotton fields.
The city itself is divided by the E5 highway into the swanky north, with its cinemas and designer malls, and the more traditional bustling south, with the markets, mosques and hotels of the old town. As there are few pedestrian bridges and underpasses, you have to negotiate mind-blowing traffic to reach many of the local sights.
Adana’s small Archeological Museum (Arkeolji Müzesi) is in a prime location right next to the impressive Sabancı Merkez Camii. The small courtyard at the back enjoys beautiful views across the mosque gardens. Inside, two floors showcase predominantly Hellenistic and Roman statuary, plus some fine sarcophagi and Hittite statues. Unfortunately many of the upstairs exhibition rooms are now closed or empty, and aside from the Turkish nameplates there’s very little information to guide visitors.
Despite its contemporary, metropolitan feel, Adana has historical roots going back to 1000 BC. The arrival of the Greeks precipitated an on-off power struggle with the powerful Persian Empire that was to last for a thousand years, ending only when the Romans arrived during the first century BC. Under the Romans, the city became an important trading centre, afterwards passing through various hands before falling to the Ottomans during the sixteenth century.