When Paul travelled from Tarus, his birthplace, on the Cilician plain to Iconium on the Anatolian plateau, he had no choice but to climb through this steep and narrow pass in the Taurus mountains. Called the “Cilician Gates,” the gorge—only about 60 feet wide at its most constricted point—is cut by the Cakit River, which flows through it. As early as the eighth century B.C., travelers followed the river on a rock-cut path. Darius I of Persia and Alexander the Great both brought their armies through the narrow pass. Paul, however, walked along the Roman road laid down when Pompey moved his legions east in 63 B.C. Today, cars easily negotiate the pass on a modern roadway, right.

The rocky terrain, which may have been partially covered by snow from an unseasonal blizzard, was only a fraction of nearly 2,000 rugged miles walked by Paul on his second missionary journey. In an average day Paul may have covered 25 miles. However, it is unlikely that he maintained that pace during his arduous climb through the 7,000-foot-high Taurus mountains.