Olba Antique Site and the history of the Eastern Roman Emperor Zeno



Olba, situated in the Cilicia Region (Southern Mediterrenean, Mersin/Turkey) was an important bishop center for the early Cristianity and strategic place for the Eastern Roman Empire. The place was used by eastern roman emperor Zeno, also known as the Isaurian Zeno, as an escape place from his enemies. After Emperor Zeno became again his Throne in Istanbul he supported Olba financially and architectural wise.


Archaelogical work started in 2010, most of the work was executed under the ground and since that time every year new important facts and antique discoveries were made. The remainings of the site are from the Hellenistic, Roman and Early Chirstianity. The Olba monastry and theater are the important parts of the site and shapes Olba as an cultural and religious place. The life in the monasteries were ruled under the control of two monks, the Egyption St.Pachomius and Ceasarian St.Basileus. The Olba Monasteries were managed under the rules of St.Baileus were winery trade was allowed to compensate the expenses. St.Pachomius was against such a trade and handeled the expenses in different ways.


The Olba monastery is situated at enterance of the amazing Aqueduct. It consists of three churches, which are situated in the north (the biggest one) , center and south of the site. The one which is in the south part is a chapel.



During the archaeological excavation many important historical discoveries helped to understand the Early Christianity and the reign of the Roman Empire in the eastern part. While analyzing the buildings within the site, facts show that the structures were made in different time periods because of the different wall techniques.



In 2015 very important mosaic art works were found. 16 plates of mosaic with a total size of 35 square meter. The thickness of the colored stones and tessera glasses are about 1 cm. Analyzes show that the mosaic works are made during 2 AD and 3 AD.





The works at the site is still going on and it is worth to visit it.


How to reach Olba :

  • Hourly flights from Istanbul to Adana (Sakirpasa Airport) are available daily.

  • Buses or shuttle from the airport to the site in Silifke (province of Mersin) takes about one and a half hour.

  • Car rentals are available at the airport, which is more logical.


Other sites to be visited in the Region :

  • Kızkalesi (Maiden's Castle)

  • St.Paul's Well (in Tarsus)

  • Seven Sleepers (in Tarsus)


Many thanks to Mrs. Prof. Dr. Ayse Emele ERTEN and her team for the works on the site.


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