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Cilician Gates (Gülek Boğazı)

The most strategically important pass in Anatolia is so full of history it takes on an almost mythical air. A thousand metres above sea level, this is the corridor through the Taurus mountains between the low coastal plain of Cilicia to Cappadocia and the Anatolian plateau. It is a conduit between the Near East and the West. Through here came Xenephon and the ten thousand, Alexander the Great, St Paul and the Crusaders. And in 1920 40 Turkish soldiers held the pass against a force of 500 advancing French. Once only wide enough for a cart to pass through, today traffic whizzes by on a Tarsus-Ankara highway. A railway built by the Germans to open the route to Baghdad was completed in 1918. It cut through 37 tunnels in the rock and is a triumph of engineering.

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Issue 66, December 2023 Turkey’s Centenary Issue
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