TARSUS (St.Paul's birthplace)


Tarsus was St.Paul's birthplace and it is believed that the water from the well which is situated at the house where St.Paul lived is holy.

He was born in Tarsus about the same time when Jesus was born in Bethlehem. The existence of the city has been known since 4000 B.C. It is believed that Tarsus was the capitol of Hittite state of Kizzuwatna in the 2nd millenium B.C. It was a coastal city and important harbour until 500 A.D. Since then the lagoon, where the harbour was situated, has silted up slowly with mud and carried by Cydnus (Tarsus river) and now the city is 15 Kms inside the land.

In different times Alexander the Great, Marcus Antonius and Cleopatra had been in the city.

Obviously, St.Paul was the most important of all the famous people who had been here for at least some time of their life. He was born a Jew and a Roman citizen. He attended school and learned the trade of tent-making. He used to speak Aramaic, Hebrew, Greek, Latin and a local dialect. He went to Jerusalem for further studying and exposed to Christianity. Soon, he converted to Christianity and became active in proclaiming Jesus as the Messiah. He had to flee Jerusalem and Damascus for his life. He then returned to Tarsus.

He went to Antioch to meet with Gentiles along with Barnabas. Then he had been to Galatia and Phrygia. But his main involvement to spread the Christianity was in the area of Tarsus, Damascus and Jerusalem. Tarsus, as his birthplace and home, offered on extraordinary good schooling for the man who would "westernize" Christianity. As an important trade city and sea-port, Tarsus's entire history was one of mixing East and West. Between 47 A.D. and 57 A.D. he had three missionary journeys to Anatolia (Asia Minor and now Turkey) with his friends. Finally, he was arrested in Jerusalem in 57 A.D. accused of causing riots in the city. He was then sent to Rome for trial. He was killed in Rome in 62 A.D. or 64 A.D. after the great fire during the time of emperor Nero.

There had been three church council meetings held in Tarsus in 431, 435 and 1177. Although, there are no obvious remains of this ancient church now but foundations of a Christian church which near to St.Paul's gate is apparent.


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