The village of Cambazlı, located in the Taurus Mountains, welcomes travellers from the Mediterranean coast with a wonderful surprise. It consists of the ruins of a monumental church from the early Byzantine period. Further exploration of the village results in the discovery of other historical buildings. However, despite its attractive sights, few tourists reach Cambazlı, as most of them follow the coastal route from Mersin to Silifke.
The original name of the ancient settlement is unknown. It must have been an important town because it was connected to other important ancient settlements such as Corycus and Diocaesarea by Roman roads. Although it dates back to the late Hellenistic period, it was also inhabited during the Roman and Byzantine eras.
The most magnificent monument in Cambazlı is a ruined church, which was built in the second half of the 5th century CE. From an architectural point of view, it is a three-nave basilica. It is true that its roof collapsed long ago, but the hemispherical dome over the apse has been preserved, and the walls of the building still rise to a height of two storeys.
A two-level colonnade has also been preserved, separating the main nave from the side nave. The columns with Corinthian capitals in the southern side are still standing, but the columns in the northern side have collapsed. The building has impressive dimensions as it is 20 meters long and 12.5 meters wide.
Unfortunately, the basilica in Cambazlı has recently fallen victim to the renovation frenzy that has gripped Turkey for some time. As a result of the works, the church has almost completely lost its original character and looks as if it was newly built.
In addition, in and around the village there are many tombs and cenotaphs, both carved into the rocks and free-standing, resembling small ancient temples. Ancient cisterns and sarcophagi complete the picture.
The village of Cambazlı, sometimes called Yeğenli, is located in Mersin Province, about 20 km inland from the Mediterranean coast, at an altitude of over 900 meters above sea level. The only way to get there is to have your means of transport. There is a direct road to Cambazlı from Kızkalesi, appropriately marked with a signpost.