History of Adana
Adana is the fourth largest city in Turkey, with about 1.5 million people. Due to the richness of its natural resources, strategic location, mild weather and fertile lands for farming, Adana is one of the oldest cities founded in this region. The city is situated about 30 miles inland from the Mediterranean Sea.
The Cukurova plains around Adana are irrigated by water from the Seyhan River; which follows through the city from north to south. Irrigation canals are spread throughout the plains. Three dams, two of them within city limits, were built on the Seyhan River. The old dam was built in 1935 and is mainly used to regulate the flow of the river to the irrigation canals. The new dam was built in 1953 and is used to stop floods and for power production. There is a hydroelectric power plant at the new dam. The reservoir behind the new dam, Adana Lake, changed the face of the city. The has moved toward and around the lake within the last 20 years.
The Cukurova University campus occupies almost all of the eastern side of the lake. Cukurova University, which has 30,000 students, is among the top 10 universities in Turkey.
Adana is an industrial and agricultural city. Most of its industry relies on agricultural products. Adana farmers mainly produce cotton. That is why Adana is the center of Turkey’s textile industry, one of Turkey’s leading industries. Farmers also grow various other products like grain, corn, fruit and vegetables. Turkey’s main highway, E-5, now renamed E-90, goes through Adana. This highway has been in the same location for at least 2,500 years. As well as the crusaders, Alexander the Great also used this road on his way to India.
The oldest documents mentioning Adana are Hittite texts, dating back to 1,600 B.C. Thus, we can easily say the roots of Adana go back at least 3,500 years. Adana and its surroundings were occupied by the Hittites in the 15th century B.C.
There are several theories about how Adana got its name. The most common is that Adana was originally founded by Seyhanus and Adanus, the sons of the god Uranus. Thus, Adana derived its name from Adanus, and the river running through it, Seyhan, got its name from Seyhanus.
Located on a main trade route, Adana was subject to constant invasions. Archaeological excavations show the city housed at least ten civilizations and eighteen states. In the 6th century B.C., Adana became part of the Persian empire only to be conquered by Alexander the Great in 333 B.C., before passing into the hands of the Selucids after Alexander’s death. Later, it was conquered by Pompei and became part of the Roman Empire. The armies of Islam captured the region in the 7th century. In the 11th century, the crusaders invaded the area. In the 12th century, the Seljuk Turks captured the region. In 1517, Sultan Selim captured the area and made it part of the Ottoman Empire. Following the First World War, Adana was occupied by French armies. On January 5th, 1922, Adana was liberated from French occupation.
Despite its long history, there aren’t many artifacts to be found. The oldest monument in the city is the Roman Bridge. It was built by the Roman Emperor Hadrian in the 2nd Century A.D. It is 319 meters long and has 21 arches, 14 of which are still standing. The old mosque (Yag Cami) was built in 1501. The old Market in the same area is about 500 years old.
New Adana, north of the E-5 highway, has many things to offer. New and modern shopping malls can compete with any shopping mall in Europe. Movie theaters show films in English during certain showings. Numerous restaurants serve typical local and western dishes. Those restaurants are mostly located on Ziyapasa Boulevard, parallel to Ataturk Boulevard. You will find many fish restaurants along the Adana Lake drive as well.
Driving by the lake and seeing the beautiful view is one of the things you can do to while in Adana. Most of the locals spend their evenings drinking tea by the lake. One place you should not miss while in Adana is the Sabanci Mosque. The mosque was built in 1999 and is the largest mosque in Turkey, and also one of the largest mosques in the Middle East.