Antakya in Turkey

Friday, 9 July 2021 - 11:00 am (CET/MEZ) Berlin | Author/Destination:
Category/Kategorie: General, Union for the Mediterranean
Reading Time:  6 minutes

© flickr.com - maarten sepp2011/cc-by-sa-2.0

© flickr.com – maarten sepp2011/cc-by-sa-2.0

Antakya, historically known as Antioch, is the capital of Hatay Province, the southernmost province of Turkey. The city is located in a well-watered and fertile valley on the Orontes River, about 20 kilometers (12 mi) from the Levantine Sea. The cuisine of Antakya is renowned. Its cuisine is considered levantine rather than Turkish. The cuisine offers plenty of meals, where beef and lambs are mainly used. Popular dishes include the typical Turkish kebab, served with spices and onions in flat unleavened bread, with yoghurt as ali nazik kebab, oruk, kaytaz böreği and katıklı ekmek . Hot spicy food is a feature of this part of Turkey, along with Turkish coffee and local specialities.

Today’s city stands partly on the site of the ancient Antiochia (also known as “Antioch on the Orontes”), which was founded in the 4th century BC by the Seleucid Empire. Antioch later became one of the Roman Empire‘s largest cities, and was made the capital of the provinces of Syria and Coele-Syria. It was also an influential early center of Christianity, and gained much ecclesiastical importance in the Byzantine Empire. Captured by Umar ibn al-Khattab in the 7th century, the medieval Antakiyah was conquered or re-conquered several times: by the Byzantines in 969, the Seljuks in 1084, the Crusaders in 1098, the Mamluks in 1268, and eventually the Ottomans in 1517, who would integrate it to the Aleppo Eyalet then to the Aleppo Vilayet. The city joined the Hatay State under the French Mandate before joining the Turkish Republic.

Mount Habib-i Neccar and the city walls which climb the hillsides symbolise Antakya, making the city a formidable fortress built on a series of hills running north-east to south-west. Antakya was originally centred on the east bank of the river. Since the 19th century, the city has expanded with new neighbourhoods built on the plains across the river to the south-west, and four bridges connect the old and new cities. Many of the buildings of the last two decades are styled as concrete blocks, and Antakya has lost much of its classic beauty. The narrow streets of the old city can become clogged with traffic.

Although the port city Iskenderun has become the largest city in Hatay, Antakya is a provincial capital still of considerable importance as the centre of a large district. The draining of Lake Amik and development of land has caused the region’s economy to grow in wealth and productivity. The town is a lively shopping and business centre with many restaurants, cinemas and other amenities. This district is centred on a large park opposite the governor’s building and the central avenue Kurtuluş Caddesı. The tea gardens, cafes and restaurants in the neighbourhood of Harbiye are popular destinations, particularly for the variety of meze in the restaurants. The Orontes River can be malodorous when water is low in summer. Rather than formal nightlife, in the summer heat, people will stay outside until late in the night to walk with their families and friends, and munch on snacks.

Church of St Peter, according to the Vatican, the oldest church of Christianity © Volkan Hatem/cc-by-2.5 Courtyard of the Church of Apostles Peter and Paul © Maarten Sepp/cc-by-sa-4.0 © flickr.com - maarten sepp2011/cc-by-sa-2.0 Habib-i Neccar Cami mosque © Dosseman/cc-by-sa-4.0 Market Square © Ryesiloglu © panoramio.com - Ben Bender/cc-by-sa-3.0
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Church of St Peter, according to the Vatican, the oldest church of Christianity © Volkan Hatem/cc-by-2.5
The long and varied history has created many architectural sites of interest. There is much for visitors to see in Antakya, although many buildings have been lost in the rapid growth and redevelopment of the city in recent decades.

  • Hatay Archaeology Museum has the second largest collection of Roman mosaics in the world.
  • The rock-carved Church of St Peter, with its network of refuges and tunnels carved out of the rock, a site of Christian pilgrimage. There are also tombs cut into the rock face at various places along the Orontes valley.
  • Old market district: It offers plenty of traditional shops, where you can explore what you have not seen before. It is exactly in the city centre, you are in when you see the sign Uzun Çarşı Caddesi.
  • The seedy Gündüz cinema in the city centre was once used as parliament building of the Republic of Hatay.
  • The waterfalls at the Harbiye / Daphne promenade.
  • The Ottoman Habib’i Neccar Mosque, the oldest mosque in Antakya and one of the oldest in Anatolia.
  • The labyrinth of narrow streets and old Antakya houses. This district is the oldtown in fact.
  • Vespasianus Titus Tunnel-Samandagı. It is approximately 35 km. far from the centre.
  • Beşikli Cave and Graves (the antique city of Seleukeia Pierria)
  • St. Simon Monastery
  • Bagras (Bakras) Castle, which was built in antiquity and restored many times in later centuries (particularly during the Crusades, when it was a stronghold of the Knights Templar), served as a watchtower on the 27 km (17 mi) mountain road from İskenderun (Alexandretta) to Antakya (Antioch).
  • The panoramic view of the city from the heights of Mount Habib-i Neccar
  • St. Paul Orthodox Church

With its rich architectural heritage, Antakya is a member of the Norwich-based European Association of Historic Towns and Regions. The Roman bridge (thought to date from the era of Diocletian) was destroyed in 1972 during the widening and channelling of the Orontes.

Read more on Antakya, Wikivoyage Antakya and Wikipedia Antakya (Smart Traveler App by U.S. Department of State - Weather report by weather.com - Johns Hopkins University & Medicine - Coronavirus Resource Center - Global Passport Power Rank - Democracy Index - GDP according to IMF, UN, and World Bank - Global Competitiveness Report - Corruption Perceptions Index - Press Freedom Index - World Justice Project - Rule of Law Index - UN Human Development Index - Global Peace Index - Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index). Photos by Wikimedia Commons. If you have a suggestion, critique, review or comment to this blog entry, we are looking forward to receive your e-mail at comment@wingsch.net. Please name the headline of the blog post to which your e-mail refers to in the subject line.






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