Sanctuary of Saint Thecla

Sanctuary of Saint Thecla

The Sanctuary of Saint Thecia is a church believed to be the place where Thecia lived. Thekla, a girl from Konya (then known as Iconium), was influenced by the preaching of Paulus of Tarsus, one of the apostles of Jesus Christ, and gave up her polytheistic beliefs and began to worship according to the requirements of Christianity.

Since Christianity was forbidden in her time, St. Thekla did this in secret. She goes to Silifke and settles in a cave. The next goal of her life was to spread the Christian religion. Thus, we come across St. Thekla, who is considered the first female martyr by the Christian world.

Mersin Azize Tekla Kutsal Alani Kilise Magarasi
Mersin Azize Tekla Kutsal Alani Magara Kilisesi

When you arrive at the area where St. Tekia, also known as the Virgin Mary, is located, leave your car at the entrance where the hut is and go inside. If you have a Müzekart, you can visit the Sanctuary of St. Tekla for free. When you enter the sanctuary, take the first right. After the official acceptance of Christianity in the Roman period, a church was built on the cave. In line with the researches, it is understood that the size of the church is 55 meters long and 36 meters wide. When you think about it, the church here was quite a big structure. Today, a part of the apse of the church can be seen.

Mersin Azize Tekla Kilisesi
Mersin Azize Tekla Kilisesi Apsisi

We go down the stairs to reach the secret place of worship of St. Tekia. The place is beautifully illuminated. Unlike ordinary churches, Aya Tekla Church, which is a cave church, is located underground in a cave carved out of the rocks. According to legend, Thecia spent the last days of her life in this cave and miraculously disappeared when she was wanted to be killed because she was sentenced to death for believing in Christianity. It is also said that after her disappearance, people were sent to kill her because she healed the people and the healers were unable to work. The area, which turned into a sacred structure after its destruction, has been transformed into a place open to visitors under the responsibility of the Silifke Museum.

Mersin Azize Tekla Kutsal Alani Magara Duvarlari
Mersin Azize Tekla Kutsal Alani Magara Delikleri

Many cisterns were built to store water in the Virgin Mary. The structure located opposite the basilica, some of which have survived to the present day intact, is one of the cisterns built in the Marylik area.

Mersin Azize Tekla Kutsal Alani Sarnic
Mersin Azize Tekla Kutsal Alani Tarihi Sarnic

Today, Orthodox and Catholics commemorate St. Thekla on September 23-24, which is considered a holy day. Aya Tekla Church, which is one of the places to visit in Mersin, which is home to many religious beliefs, is 4 kilometers away from Silifke. It is easy to reach and the surviving part of the church can be seen from far away.