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TRAVEL > Experiencing ‘heaven and hell’ during a travel to Turkey’s southern province

Wilco van Herpen MERSİN - Hürriyet Daily News

If you are near Silifke, a town in the southern province of Mersin, just ask the locals where Kız Kalesi is. Traveling around here will take more than just one day as there is so much to see

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Heaven and Hell in the southern province of Mersin’s Silifke are two enormous caves. It is about a 15-minute hike down to the enormous entrance of the cave and during the walk down you are surrounded by bushes and trees.

Heaven and Hell in the southern province of Mersin’s Silifke are two enormous caves. It is about a 15-minute hike down to the enormous entrance of the cave and during the walk down you are surrounded by bushes and trees.

Have you ever visited “Cennet ve Cehennem” (Heaven and Hell) in Turkey? Well, I can recommend you go there. It is very nice. Maybe it is not exactly what you thought heaven and hell would be, but it comes close to it. If you are near Silifke, a town in the southern province of Mersin, just ask the people where Kız Kalesi is. Traveling around here will take more than just one day; there is so much to see. In Silifke, where you can find a beautiful little castle called Kız Kalesi on a small island just off shore, it is as if time stood still.

Unfortunately, tourism has also left its mark on this beautiful area. Everywhere hotels are being built, some of them even on top of ancient places. It is there where you can find Heaven and Hell. It takes a while to go down into Heaven, and if your physical condition is not very good I would not recommend you go down to Heaven because then heaven, and especially the way back up to mother earth, might turn into hell.

After a nice ride along the coast you will see the signs for Heaven and Hell. It is easy to find it, just follow these signs. After a turn from the highway you end up on a narrow road. This road leads to a place that I really love very much. The road was still the way I remembered it. Twenty years ago I visited Heaven and Hell, and the only thing that had changed was more houses alongside the road and signs that mentioned that you can have breakfast or lunch here. After a short ride I arrived at Heaven and Hell, and I was again in shock by the ugliness of the building that was made to facilitate visitors and where they sell the tickets.

Heaven and Hell are two enormous caves and it is here that you visit heaven on earth. The road to Hell is a bit more complicated, and unfortunately it is impossible to end up in Hell because there is no path that leads you to the bottom of this cave.

This time of year is the best time to visit the cave because one or two months later it will be too hot to walk around over there but at the same time heaven is also nice to visit during summertime because the temperature in the cave is many degrees colder than the outside temperature.

It is about a 15-minute hike down to the enormous entrance of the cave and during your walk down you are surrounded by bushes and trees. The sound of birds is all around you and it is very difficult to distinguish where the birds are since the sound echoes around in this enormous hole. Just before you arrive at the entrance of the cave you can walk around in a little chapel made many, many years ago. It must be Byzantine, and I often wonder about the dedication and determination of those religious people because they made their churches and monasteries at the most impossible places.

Temperature stable the whole year

Finally I was there in the cave. It is so nice and cool there; the whole year round temperatures in the cave are more or less the same. The further you walk into the cave, the darker it gets. Unfortunately for me, but understandably, it was impossible to go until the end of the cave. At a certain point a barrier was made and, a bit disappointed, I went back to the entrance of the cave. Enjoying the scenery for a while finally the moment was there to start my way back to the “normal” world. I did not want to leave this heavenly place; it was so peaceful here.

The 455 steps upwards turned into hell. When I finally arrived at the entrance the sun was burning like hell, as if it wanted to say, “You have visited Heaven, now deal with real life again.”

May/09/2012

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