Every year, when the orange trees bloom and fill the air with that wonderful citrus scent, Adana celebrates the “Carnival of Orange Blossom”. In particular, I was very curious about this important city because a Turkish series called “Bitter Land” takes place in one of its districts, Çukurova, and a stone pedestrian bridge that was shown caught my attention.
I took advantage of the invitation to attend the tenth carnival that was taking place there, not only to assess the impact that a possible participation of Panama in the “stands” that have been erected in Atatürk Park, but also to assess the parade with allegorical cars (not as decorated as ours) and other activities. It is estimated that one and a half million people visited Adana this year on carnival days, especially from neighboring European countries.
Adana is the capital of the homonymous province, the fifth most populated city in Turkey (about 3 million inhabitants) after Istanbul, Ankara, Izmir and Bursa, and is very productive in different industries, such as cement, textiles and the leather. . The dynamism of the city, located 30 km from the Mediterranean coast, and crossed by the beautiful Seyhan river, which was also the scene of an aquatic parade, is perceptible.
The Çukurova Plain is very fertile land, making it one of the most productive areas in the country. From the city and across this plain to the west, the road to Tarsus enters the foothills of the Taurus Mountains. From here you pass through the famous Cilician gates, as many armies have done since the beginning of history, and continue through the Anatolian plain.
Adana is of Hittite origin, Adaniya from Kizzuwatna. In Homer’s Iliad she appears as Adana. In Hellenistic times it became known as Antiochia. It is also mentioned as Coa and everything indicates that it was the place where King Solomon got thousands of horses for his tasks (according to the Bible). There is a legend that Adamus and Sarus, sons of Uranus, came near the Seyhan River and founded the city there. Another legend attributes it to Adad (Tesup), the Hittite god of thunder who lived in the forest, naming it as it is known today. What is certain is that many Hittite remains have been found in the area and this brings the legend a little closer that the god of thunder was the source of the torrential rains that enriched the land and produced fertile soil. . . For this reason, he was highly respected and loved by the villagers. In his honor, the region was named Uru Adaniyya, “the region of Ada”.
Over the centuries there have been several names: Adanos, Ta Adana, Uru Adaniya, Erdene, Edene, Ezene, Batana, Atana, Azana, Addane.
Geographically very close to Tarsus, its history is closely linked to this city, which was the metropolis of the region and, due to its location, was at the crossroads of several important trade routes that linked southern Anatolia to Syria and to the Pont region, which takes us back at least to the Bronze Age and therefore even earlier. There are many versions of who founded Tarsus, one of the most interesting being the mythical Perseus. It is important for history because in 41 BC. J.-C., the Roman emperor Marc Antoine established his headquarters there and summoned Cleopatra by several letters, which she rejected. He then sent Quintus Dellius to convince her, which he finally accepted, and sailed up the Kydnos River to Tarsus.
“Through the centuries, there have been several names: Adanos, Ta Adana, Uru Adaniya, Erdene, Edene, Ezene, Batana, Atana, Azana, Addane”.
Tarsus has always been an important cultural center, mainly in the field of philosophy. Two important personalities were born there: the philosopher Antipater, of Stoic tendency, and the apostle Paul, which makes it a place of pilgrimage. The heart and entrails of Frederick I Barbarossa, the Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, who drowned in battle in the waters of the river now called Göksu, are also buried here.
The two cities, Adana and Tarsus are connected by the Seyhan River and are about 40 kilometers apart from each other. Its history is more than 3,000 years old, thanks to the discovery in the region of vestiges of human occupations from the Paleolithic era. They are considered the oldest cities in the Cilicia region. There is no doubt that they were important during the time of the Hittite Empire, from the year 1335 BC. , the Persians, the ubiquitous Alexander the Great (333 BC), the Seleucids and the pirates of Cilicia and Pompey.
Under the latter’s reign, the city served as a prison for the Cilicia pirates. Later, it was an obligatory stop for the Romans heading east. After the invasion of the mighty Roman Empire, the region became part of the Byzantine Empire. Emperor Julian the Apostate is credited with the development of the region. Consequently, great bridges, roads, official buildings and irrigation systems were built and estates were built, making Adana and its neighboring Cilicia (about 50 kilometers away) the most important trading centers. developed and the most important in the region.
Carnival and its attractions
The agenda was very tempting since it included, in addition to the usual dinners, a tasting of orange-based products, especially those that follow the “slow food” trend. This exhibition was the starting point of what was developed and was followed by the Minister of Culture and Tourism. The decorations and everything offered was made of oranges and there was real artwork and everyone wore flower crowns. In the afternoon took place the parade and the opening concert, whose enthusiasm was contagious despite the torrential rain. Meanwhile, exhibitions of different countries, companies and groups continued to take place in Atatürk Park and Merkez Park. On Sunday it was the aquatic parade, which has nothing to ask of those organized in Penonomé for our carnivals, and they had music and fireworks. That day, the weather was sunny and glorious. The visit to the stands was exhaustive, culminating in an exhibition in the commemorative art gallery for the 75th anniversary of the Adana City Council.
About the “slow food” movement, whose symbol is a snail, is an international trend that promotes a new philosophy that combines pleasure and knowledge. It tries to safeguard the regional gastronomic traditions, with its products and cultivation methods, ensuring that they are as natural as possible, without pesticides and oriented towards organic farming.
It was founded in 1986 by the Italian Carlo Petrini and is present in more than 150 countries. It organizes very important fairs around the world, but the most important is the so-called “Ark of Taste”, a census of local food products threatened with extinction and giving them lasting value.
Adana and its Orange Blossom Carnival was a pleasant experience which because this year the holy month of Muslims Ramadan started on April 2 it was celebrated in March but in previous years it was celebrated in April . The city’s landmarks are the ancient clock tower, the tallest in Turkey at 32 meters high, on a square prism base, which was started by Ziya Pasha and completed in 1882, also called “Buyuksaat” , which has been reproduced with oranges for the occasion, the Sabanci Mosque, which is the largest mosque in Turkey, and the magnificent stone bridge of Tasköprü, built 1,600 years ago, with advanced technology and knowledge -do technique of the time. It has twenty-one arches under which boats cross on the 310-meter-long Seyhan River and is one of the symbols of Adana.
Bridges have linked people, cities and countries since Antiquity… They have witnessed many wars, many separations and many reunions on calm rivers or in waterfalls…