Home
Welcome

Please select your city:


Username
Password
Remember
Click here to register
Forgot Password?
     
Move to Turkey
Relocation Companies
Where To Stay
Hotels, Aparts, Suites
Learn Turkish
Instructors, Courses

Member interviews
What about yours?
Lisa from Kadıköy
Sarah from Sisli
Claudia from Fenerbahce
Nilgün from Suadiye
Aaron from Çekmeköy

From Members' Pen
Members' columns
Be a Correspondent
A Weekend Escape to Edirne
Siirt in Istanbul
Lemon Cheesecake
A Visit to Aya Yorgi and Heybeliada
Angelique´s Latest Trips
Advertisement Advertise here/Buraya reklam verin

Forums
Moving to Turkey
Relocation
Law & Legal
Health
Money affairs
Vehicles (Cars, boats, motocycles etc)
Communications, electronics, media
Children / Les enfants
Pets
Turkish Language
Tourism / Travel / Sightseeing
Educational Topics


e-coupons

Free newsletter

Your Name

Your Email

We will send regular newsletters to our members who have signed up for receiving it during the registration. In 'mymerhaba' newsletter, our editorial staff provides updates, with regard to any information related to places worth visiting, viewing, or otherwise worth knowing, for those who care to know more....

A Bus Tour to Antakya

by Fred Moore

This is the ancient city of Antioch (of which we're told there are seven, we know there are two in Turkey) about a three-hour drive from our home. We leave at 7 a.m. and head east out of Adana on E-5 for probably an hour and then gradually make the swing south for the rest of the trip. It's a pretty rainy nasty day out, but we're off on one more adventure, so the rain is no deterrent. We were aware of the conditions before hand but refuse to pass up an opportunity when we're free to go. We're determined to do all and see all we can of this region of Turkey, as this is truly the source of Christianity, as we know it. Our ultimate destination today is where Paul began his mission trips.

We're on a full size Mercedes bus this time as opposed to our last ride, which was a small half size bus. The seats although quite hard are somewhat wider which is good for those of us who have substantially more to put down on the seat to begin with. Our trip immediately east is pretty routine by now and as we've done it a number of times already I won't bore you by discussing the highway again, simply remember it isn't very smooth, although with the larger bus the rough of it is easier on us old folks. The weather makes visibility very far distant less than desirable but one takes small inconvenience in stride when an adventure like this is made available.

Again as we make our turn south we are leaving the Cilicia region of the country and entering the Plain of Issos moving ever closer to the northeastern most coastline of the Mediterranean Sea. Interesting side note here; Alexander the Great defeated Emperor Darius on this plain in 333BC, the battle expended 20,000 lives! We've driven out of the rain now and are left with gray overcast skies.

We're surrounded now by vast groves of citrus trees; orange, tangerine, grapefruit and lemon, you may be thinking what I'm thinking and I DID NOT ask the question, I don't know how all these things can grow in such close proximity with out them becoming cross pollinated to become "orgerfruons". No, my computer doesn't like that word BUT what in the world would you call all four of those together. I don't believe there are any tangelos here either and they do in fact exist. This too is the season for citrus and we see a number of temporary Nomad settlements established among the groves of trees.

Our guide has indicated they've come to winter down here from the mountains where they spend their summers herding goats and sheep. They spend time harvesting this tremendous crop while down here. As we ride along every few kilometers there are fruit stands of the citrus. The color even without the sun is bold and beautiful. Many of the stands have the yellow lemon in red net type bags adding even more color to the mix. So too, many crops are picked with the leaves remaining on the fruit again adding green to the bold oranges and yellows. I can only imagine the sun's effect on these individual cascades of fruit. Many of the stands have the standard ramp like platforms, many are 12 or 15 feet square filled and overflowing with oranges and tangerines; the richness of orange color is just vibrant. Grapefruit, although certainly on display, is not as prevalent. The lemons are nearly all bagged and the size of some of the individual fruit is immense, almost the size of our navel oranges. Another thing interesting around a number of these stands is the residue of expended fruit. Obviously the weather has prevented it today, but I can just imagine buyers stopping to get their kilo or two and I can see the merchant pick a choice fruit, tear at the rind and offer the succulent center as enticement for a quick sale. It's evident with all the rinds scattered about several citrus didn't travel far before being consumed, whether as enticement or simply as a tasty snack.

Two hours into our trip now we're entering the city center at Yakacik known in the past as Payas. In the not too distant past this was a bustling harbor community, much of that life has been lost to the ages, the old port has silted in and moved the city several meters from the sea. We make our first stop here to visit a 13th century Genoese castle with mote. We cross the mote on a permanent bridge, it does not drop to meet us, nor does it recede into the castle wall as some actually do here. This castle is fairly well intact from the exterior; the mote is void of water and filled to some degree with debris, however several men are about the task of cleaning up around the walls so maybe they too will clear the mote. The interior in contrast is in severe distress, with one small ruin in the central courtyard and what could easily be a pasture all around. From the inside too, we can easily see the entire wall and it's fully in place and totally intact. There are numerous stairways leading to the walk that encompasses the upper wall, we did not make the climb. Our guide motions off toward one corner of the wall and we're told there's a door to the dungeons there, we're not to see those either however, time gets away much too quickly.

Immediately adjacent to this castle is a 16th century caravansary, designed by the most celebrated of Ottoman architects (Mimar Sinan) and built in 1574. The structure is without equal of all those we've visited over our three stays here in country SO FAR. The caravansary interior contains two central passageways much in the form of a cross; the crossbeam is lined with small enclosed shops and the upright takes you out to a courtyard of some magnitude. Immediately off the cross toward the courtyard are rooms much akin to a motel for the modern traveler. This was a one-stop facility, a room for you, an enclosure where your livestock was fed and bedded down and yes, even shopping for the lady. You were able to stay up to three days at no cost. Attached to this structure are a Hamam (Turkish bath), a Mosque and a religious school. We walk through the Turkish bath; no, it is not functioning as one now, although we see little reason why not since it is in fairly good repair. It certainly was not abandoned in the too distant past. The electrical wiring integrated throughout the upper walls and ceilings is NOT that old and appears to me to have been put there for recent use and NOT simply added for tourist lighting. Across the entry way from the Hamam is the Mosque and we enter its courtyard; it's surrounded on three sides by the school and on one side by the Mosque. We've come to view the oldest olive tree in the region, purported to be 700 years old. Since I'm in NO position to age a tree, let alone an olive tree, I'm simply telling you what we were told. I can tell you, if your limbs and trunk had a similar appearance, your age would not be in dispute. We have a picture, we hope. The base of this tree must have been ten feet around and I can assure you I've seen a group of olive trees in this country and NONE were anywhere close to the size of this one.

Time is again not on our side; so we must be getting back on the road to our ultimate destination. As we pull out onto the street that brought us into the caravansary we're confronted with an awesome view of the mountains; these are craggy rock strewn edifices of beauty. With the air so clean and crisp from the evening's rain, you have the impression you can reach out and touch these hillsides. We are not seeing the entire peaks do to the low overcast and fog but what lies before our eyes is another example of God's artistic splendor. The green of the plant life and trees along with the black and silver of the rocks both stand in stark contrast to the cityscape on our horizon and the cloud cover above.

On leaving this little community we come to our first full sighting of the Mediterranean Sea and in the foreground are several smokestacks. We're looking across the compound of a major industrial (Steel) plant to see the water. This industrial complex was brought to Turkey courtesy of Russia in the early '70s. It actually began steel production in 1974 on its opening. To a novice such as I, it appeared quite modern but the tour guide has simply filled in the blanks with the aforementioned dates.

Several more kilometers now along the coast we begin to see more development as the outskirts of Iskenderun come into view. Here too our guide breaks the silence with this new revelation. Remember Jonah who was regurgitated and deposited by the whale on dry land? Well lo and behold and not surprising, that event too happened right here in Turkey on this coast. As the road curves first left then right while we traverse the coastline I notice we're now city on the left, rails on the right and then the Sea. We make a right curve and before us is an outcrop of rocks into the Sea. Atop them is what remains of a church built by the Romans, only the altar; the church was built here to commemorate the "very" spot where Jonah was spit out (as the guide put it) onto dry land.

Not far along now we enter the city proper of Iskenderun. This city is significant in its own right, as it's the largest and busiest port city in eastern Turkey. Had Turkey not backed away in support of "our" war, this was to be a major staging port for war material and troop movement headed to Iraq. We in fact had a number of troop and supply ships just off the coast of Turkey in this very part of the Mediterranean in the spring last year. This port city is also renowned in antiquity as the "other" Alexandria or Alexandria Minor as it was known then; Iskenderun is actually the Turkish translation of Alexander. The mountains of Amanos are the backdrop for the city and we get a glimpse of them through the cloud cover revealing cold snowcapped peaks. These incredible mountains opposite the Sea protect the entire port city.

Once past this historic milestone and the city limits we begin to ascend the Amanos Mountains. Just before entering the cloud sitting so firmly on the mountain top we reach the village of Belen nestled in the pass that was once referred to as the Syrian Gates. We've now entered the fog of the cloud and we see nothing, almost literally. The road is visible for a very short distance ahead of us but little else can be seen; and almost as quickly as we're engulfed in the cloud we begin to descend the other side of the mountain. The road begins to curve back and forth as the bus continues downward and then like driving through a curtain we are in the clear. The Orontes valley lies before us, lush green and from up here very wet looking. You get the effect of being in a plane; the fields below are vast stretches of black and green quilt alternating across a wide spectrum of real estate.

From our current vantage point above the plain we can see the ribbon of road we will follow to the valley floor. It's a three lane road designed to facilitate slower traffic ascending the mountain but we quickly see it has become a passing lane for those with a dare devil mentality. Our driver fortunately is somewhat more conservative and only takes advantage of the third lane when it is clear for a good way; we're very thankful for that mentality. Just before our road levels off I glance to the right and a lake comes into view. It's turquoise green in color and appears to be mildly effected by the breeze moving over the water. Now on the valley floor things do not appear nearly as wet or flooded as they did from on high. The green on the other hand is still rich and now we can clearly see it to be grain fields, primarily wheat. We're now only minutes from the Turkish City of Antakya our ultimate destination.

We enter the city limits and go immediately to the site of St. Peter's Church or Grotto, as this is in fact a cave in the solid rock face of the mountain behind the city of modern day Antakya. It is said that it was discovered by the Crusaders; interestingly during the 12th and 13th centuries a façade was built to enclose the cave forming the church we see today. We enter through an iron gate and two windows on either side along with three star-like design patterns above those windows and the door afford us the only light we get. Since we are still suffering from extensive overcast we get little help in the light department, but our Chaplain has enough to open scripture and present an abbreviated service for all in attendance. We cannot begin to explain the range of emotions we experienced reciting the Lord's Prayer within the confines of this ancient Church. This was even more moving when you stop to consider the apostles who stood in those same spaces in prayerful worship.

It's not twenty feet from the door to the altar and probably no more than that from side to side. To the right of the altar in the cave side there is a fissure in the rock wall that water trickles from and it is said to be Holy. Don't wish to make light of it but seems interesting at these sites IF water is present, in any form, it's considered Holy. To the left is an escape route hewn through the rock upward into the mountain. Here again we are reminded of the persecution burdened upon the early Christians. This Church is purported to be the first location to call followers of Christ, Christians, perhaps as early as 40 AD. On the floor of the cave where light does make an appearance one can see patches of mosaic dating from the 4th and 5th century AD. The clearest of course is the mosaic immediately at the threshold as we enter. It is a simple geometric design and not a pictorial; those inside that we can almost see, do not appear to be pictures either. One of the most compelling reasons for any visit to this community derives from mosaics; there is a museum completely dedicated to them in the city center.

It's now time for lunch and we leave St. Peter's Church for one of the outlying towns of Antakya. We're to have lunch at a restaurant adjacent to Daphne falls in the city of Harbiye. Legend has it that this is the geography on which Apollo chased after Daphne a most beautiful woman. The story ends tragically with her conversion to a laurel tree as Apollo closed in. It's further reported that Apollo tore a branch from the tree and fashioned it into a crown. This location too is where the precursor to the Olympic games was held. And to add to everything else, Antony and Cleopatra were said to have married on this spot in 40 BC. The waterfall is near extinction due to a century old earthquake in the area but a light stream of water still runs down the mountain creating a meandering cascade that has been incorporated into terraced tea garden on the slope that remains.

After lunch we board the bus to return to the city center of Antakya and the world-renowned mosaic museum. The building consists of 8 galleries of varying dimensions housing over a hundred mosaics ranging in size from a card tabletop to that of volleyball court. There is to one corner of the largest gallery a steel spiral staircase for one to ascend to view the largest mosaic. I did not nor did Carol climb the stairs (probably 20 feet to the platform above) but those who did indicated the view was spectacular. I can't begin to fathom how anyone without this type view could assemble and actually construct a "puzzle" picture with half or quarter inch mosaic squares and could bring it all together into a pictorial scene of such artistic magnificence. These utilitarian works of art are not simple and most are nothing short of full figured humans, gods and animals of every kind. As I made my way through the museum I couldn't help but imagine how many more of these beautiful pieces of art lay undiscovered around this city. And for that matter across Turkey in general, because the city of Ephesus in far western Turkey boasts of many mosaics of this same magnitude.

We reluctantly allow our guide to shepherd us from the building as the hour is late and our driver wishes to return over the mountain before dark. Though the road is excellent I understand his concern for safety. As we drive away from the city I turn back once again toward St. Peter's Church to see if the cloud has lifted from the mountain to get a glimpse of the citadel perched atop it; it isn't to be this trip. I'm told by our guide even it were viable it would leave a great deal for the imagination, since it is in a major state of ruin. My guidebook reaffirms his assessment.

The bus trip up the mountain is without incident and we are afforded a greater visibility than when we came. We're rewarded with a similar view as one coming over the mountain earlier in the day, of the valley below when we crest the top, but now we get the full view of what we were unable to see of the surroundings as we rode to our tour site. There's a fairly large community atop the mountain; our guide tells us these are mostly summer homes for the more affluent city folks. The air is certain crisp and clear up here this afternoon. We do not travel far when again we begin to descend the other side and get a view of the Mediterranean as we look out over Iskenderun to the port. On the valley floor once more we opt for the expressway to return home. Since we made some stops along the way coming we did not come by the expressway. As I've indicated before this is one very fine stretch of six lane divided highway. We're now more than 2/3rds of the way home and the sun has gone for the day, and again the rain is falling.

We return to the Base right at 6:15 and the day has been full and we're tired.


A Weekend Escape to Edirne
Siirt in Istanbul
Lemon Cheesecake
A Bus Tour to Antakya
A Food Trip to Antakya
A Jazz Night in Ankara
A Visit to Aya Yorgi and Heybeliada
Afternoon at Camlica
Ah Istanbul!
Alanya Properties
Angelique's Ankara
Angelique´s Latest Trips
Breathwork Therapy
Cheap Shopping in Istanbul
Çiçekli Bahçe Motel
Defining Feng Shui
Dinner at Ortaköy
Driving to Fethiye from England
Flying Broom by Sara
How to Maximize Your Rental Potential
Golf in Bodrum and More
Gümüşlük - Bodrum
Gündogan - Bodrum
Kathy's Thomas
Letter from Istanbul
Living in Çıralı
Moments from the Summer
Ms. Who's Apollon Temple
Mystery Solved
Pastoral Life in Yaniklar Village
Reiki
Remmick's Watch Repairer
Smiley's Blacksea
The Blue City of Ms. Who
The Pomegranate - A Gift from Heaven
The Three Graces
The Warm Heart of a Megapolis
Thousand Years of Culture
Turkish Delight
Vacation in Fethiye
Your Property in Turkey not Selling
Birsen's Horizons
Fred's Trip Logs
Bahar's Views on...
Business World
From Members' Pen
Interviews with Members
Moms & Kids Corner
Pets with Dr. Demirel
The archives of The Guide
The Archives of Turkishtime
Teen's world

Would you like to add your comment about this article? Click here!


Editor's Picks

Şile On the Asian shoreline of Bosphorus, just 70 km away from the city center, Şile’s widespread sandy beaches. more...

Summer and Child Health Pediatrician Beril Bayrak Bulucu’s article is titled “Summer and Child Health”. more...

Home Sweet Home Wondering how to change a house into “Home sweet home”? Here are some clues to help you settle in a foreign town. more...

Burhan Doğançay Burhan Dogançay is primarily known for a body of work that grew out of his fascination with urban walls. more...

Piyaz – Haricoat bean salad Zeyda would like to share with you her Haricot Bean Salad recipe. more...

What Gift to Take When… In summer number of wedding, engagement and circumcision ceremonies increase. What gift to take when... more...


Latest Articles
Ankara Film Festival
XJAZZ Festival
Ankara Music Festival
Tulip Festival 2018
Istanbul Film Festival
ODTÜ Sanat 19
Izmir European Jazz Festival
Istanbul Music Festival
Bilkent Music Days
Opus Amadeus Chamber Music Festival






 

From Members' Pen
A Weekend Escape to Edirne
Siirt in Istanbul
Lemon Cheesecake
A Bus Tour to Antakya
A Food Trip to Antakya
A Jazz Night in Ankara
A Visit to Aya Yorgi and Heybeliada
Afternoon at Camlica
Ah Istanbul!
Alanya Properties
Angelique's Ankara
Angelique´s Latest Trips
Breathwork Therapy
Cheap Shopping in Istanbul
Çiçekli Bahçe Motel
Defining Feng Shui
Dinner at Ortaköy
Driving to Fethiye from England
Flying Broom by Sara
How to Maximize Your Rental Potential
Golf in Bodrum and More
Gümüşlük - Bodrum
Gündogan - Bodrum
Kathy's Thomas
Letter from Istanbul
Living in Çıralı
Moments from the Summer
Ms. Who's Apollon Temple
Mystery Solved
Pastoral Life in Yaniklar Village
Reiki
Remmick's Watch Repairer
Smiley's Blacksea
The Blue City of Ms. Who
The Pomegranate - A Gift from Heaven
The Three Graces
The Warm Heart of a Megapolis
Thousand Years of Culture
Turkish Delight
Vacation in Fethiye
Your Property in Turkey not Selling

Focus On
Birsen's Horizons
Fred's Trip Logs
Bahar's Views on...
Business World
From Members' Pen
Interviews with Members
Moms & Kids Corner
Pets with Dr. Demirel
The archives of The Guide
The Archives of Turkishtime
Teen's world




Rhythm of Town

Events calendar
Valentine's Day
Istanbul Live
This Weekend in Istanbul
Ankara Live
This Weekend in Ankara
Social Clubs in Ankara
Restaurants and Cafes in Istanbul
Restaurants and Cafes in Ankara
Sightseeing in Istanbul
Sightseeing in Ankara
Various Discoveries
Best of...
Art and Culture in Istanbul
Art & Culture in Ankara
For Kids - Istanbul
For Kids - Ankara
Hobbies Istanbul
Hobbies Ankara
Sports
Biletix System
Films on cnbc-e


Turkeywide

Sustainable Living Film Festival
!f Istanbul Film Festival
Turkish Ruins
Mount Ararat Trek
Seeing the Truth
XJAZZ Festival
Izmir European Jazz Festival
Filmmor 2017
International Izmir Festival
The Flying Broom Festival
Gümüşlük Festival
Bodrum Music Festival
Bodrum Jazz Festival
Filmekimi 2017
In Other Cities
Baksı Museum
It´s Time to Take Pictures!!
Photo of the Month
Inside Out in Istanbul
Sand Sculpture Festival
Mandatory Health Insurance for Expats
Impossible Fairies - Out Now
Istanbul Contemporary Cuisine
Changes on Work Permit
New Year
Turkey's TOP 10s
Summer-house
Anzac Day
İzmir Wild Life Park
Antalya State Opera and Ballet - March
Izmir State Opera and Ballet - March
Registration of Canadians Abroad
News From The Expat Harem
Latest Amendments in Land Registry Law


Events Calendar

<< Apr 2018 >>
Su
Mo
Tu
We
Th
Fr
Sa
 1
 2
 3
 4
 5
 6
 7
 8
 9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
27
28
29
30

Shopping
Shopping in Istanbul
Shopping in Ankara
Product showcase
Shopping corner

Weather

Istanbul

Ankara



Advertising/Reklam
Add "mymerhaba" to my favorites | make "mymerhaba" my homepage
About "mymerhaba"
| Thanks to | Contact Us | Links | FAQ
copyright "mymerhaba" All Rights Reserved. Privacy Policy | Terms of Service
This site is best viewed with Internet Explorer 5 or greater with minimum 800*600 resolution

powered by IDserv
Website Security Test