The first settlers in Mersin since the mid-19th century were Greek Orthodox from the islands and Cappadocia, and Arab Orthodox from Syria and Lebanon. Until the 1840s, the Ottoman administration called all Christian Orthodox Christians in the empire as “Greeks.” As stated in some sources, 5,250 Orthodox Greeks lived in the city in 1850.
The fate of the city changed with the cotton production that developed in Çukurova in order to eliminate the cotton shortage in the world during the American Civil War and the connection of the region to the railway network in 1866. During this period, Mersin quickly became a port and trade center where Çukurova’s agricultural products were exported.
Arab Orthodox people living around Kiremithane Quarter worked in cotton trade and other businesses during this period, and some of them were engaged in sea trade. Towards the end of the century, 195 Arab Orthodox families could be identified in the city.
Mersin Greek Orthodox Church was built in 1849 on a land donated by Dimitri and Tannus Nadir with the permission of the Ottoman Empire and was dedicated to the archangels Mihael and Gabriel. It is the oldest church in Mersin that still has a congregation and is open to worship. Spiritually, it is affiliated with the Antakya Greek Orthodox Patriarchate in Damascus. Its legal status is subject to the supervision of the Regional Directorate of Foundations under the name of Tomris Nadir Mitri Church Foundation.
The church is located in Atatürk Street, a central place in Mersin, next to Cumhuriyet Square. A large part of the existing garden of the church was added to the avenue during the expansion of Atatürk Street during the time of Governor Tevfik Sırrı Gür. It is written in a Greek inscription that the name of the church is Mihail Arhangelos.