One of the more visited stops by locals on their way to and from the beaches of Kızkalesi (ancient Korykos) is Elaiussa Sebaste (from the Greek, Ελαιούσα Σεβαστή – Ελαιούσα means olive, and Σεβαστή means Augusta). The original city of Elaiussa sat on a small island in the Mediterranean Sea that was connected to the mainland by a small isthmus. Since that time, the island has become part of the mainland due to the silt deposits that have accumulated there.
Elaiussa became the residence of the last Cappadocian king, Archelaus, who built Sebaste in honor of the then emperor, Augustus (Sebaste in Greek). During his reign Elaiussa Sebaste became the center of the Rome’s stamping out the Pirates of Cilicia that had been terrorizing the Mediterranean Sea for the previous almost two centuries. But by the third century, the rise of Korykos as a regional power brought about the demise of Elaiussa Sebaste, where now there are nothing but remains that point to its one time splendor.
The ancient city is split by the D400 road. On the north side of the road there is an agora (Greek for marketplace), and in the midst of it was a church building. A few crosses remain, and some mosaics on the floor (though they mostly are covered by sand). There is a small amphitheater above the agora, as well. Remains of many columns are spread around the site. On the south side of the road there are more ruins of buildings leading over to the edge of the sea.
Finding Elaiussa Sebaste is simple and can be easily accessed by anyone. If you are driving from Mersin, these ruins are about a 50 km drive. They are in the modern day Turkish town of Ayaş. You can also find many a dolmuş (minibüs) coming from Mersin to Selifke that will drop you off here. When you are ready to continue on to Kızkalesi, simply hail another one from the side of the D400.
If you come to Elaiussa Sebaste, that means you are likely going to the beach at Kızkalesi. And since you’ve stopped to look at ruins, that means you appreciate history. So, why not fit in some more ruin-watching before getting your feet in the water? Check out Korykos, which is not far at all from Elaiussa Sebaste.