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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....

Antakya

 Untitled Document by Kerem Karagülle

Antakya (Antioch) is among the oldest settlements in Turkey and its history begins in the Paleolithic Age (Early Stone Age). It is situated on the Asi River, and the earliest inhabitants of the region were the Prototigris people in the first half of the 3rd millennium B.C. As a result of excavations, it has become clear that the region was an important and active residential area during the Neolithic and Bronze Ages.

The founding of ancient Antakya dates back to 307 B.C., and Antigonos called the city "Antigonia", which was established north of modern Antakya on the banks of the Asi River. Later, King Seleukos I ordered the city moved to the south and called the city Antiokheia. Antakya became a province of the Roman Empire in 64 B.C. and became the capital of the state of Syria. Caesar ordered new and big structures built after visiting the city.
It was in Antakya that the followers of Christ were first called "Christian" in the second half of the 1st century A.D., and the first church was built there. The city was the center of Christianity and was visited by St. Barnabas, St. Paul and St. Peter. Later the city came under the sovereignty of the Persians, the Crusaders, the Byzantine and Seljuk Empires, the Mamluks and lastly the city was conquered by the Ottomans in 1516. After World War I, administration of the city passed to the French, and Antakya joined the Turkish Republic following a referendum in 1939.
Antakya was industrialized with yarn and handicraft industries, but nowadays silk textiles manufactured by "family" companies in Harbiye and Samandağ attract attention. The crafts of wood carving, bay soap made of bay tree oil, and stones decorated with ancient motifs still continue. The city is famous for its wickerwork, especially plates and trays made of rushes.
The fertile soil is suitable for any kind of agriculture including viniculture. Cotton, wheat and citrus fruits contribute greatly to the economy of Antakya.

Historical Places
St. Pierre (Peter) Church
A cave church at the foot of Habib Necar Mountain on the Antakya - Reyhanlı highway where St. Peter preached and founded the Christian community, it is believed to be the first church in the world. In 1963, it was declared a Christian pilgrimage site by Pope Paul VI. The cavern was turned into a gothic-style church as a result of some additions to the façade by the Crusaders in the 7th and 8th centuries. There are remains of mosaics on the floor and frescoes on the walls of the church. Furthermore, there is an altar, a small marble statue of St. Peter in a niche, holy water and a tunnel to be used as an escape in the event of an attack. Every year on June 29th, a ceremony is performed here.

Antakya Mosaic Museum
It is the second largest mosaic museum in the world and it has been open since 1948. The museum exhibits beautiful Roman and Byzantine mosaics from the 2nd to the 5th centuries AD. The mosaics are composed of mythological scenes of humans and animals and are bordered with geometrical figures.

Antakya sarcophagus
The Antakya sarcophagus is called a "Sidemara-style tomb" in archeological literature. The sarcophagus was built in the 3rd century. The golden coins found there are the most important pieces of evidence for dating the tomb as they are from the era of Roman Emperor Gordianus II (238 AD), Emperor Gallineus and his wife Salonina (253-268 AD).

Antakya Tyche Statue

Tyche, the goddess who is the protector of the city and symbolizes abundance and prosperity, sits on a rock, leaning towards the mountain with her left hand while holding a spike in her right hand symbolizing the prosperity of the city. The crown on her head represents the city walls and the citadel on the hill. Many statues of the Goddess were made of marble and bronze and were used as a symbol on the coins minted in Antakya.

Haron (Cehennem Kayıkcısı)
A portrait was engraved on the rock near St. Pierre Church, and it is believed to belong to Haron, boatman of the apocalypse.

Antakya Citadel and Walls
Antakya Citadel was built by Seleucos Nitakor I in 300 BC and is among the most important buildings in the world. Romans, Byzantines, Crusaders, Seljuks and Ottomans used the citadel, which also has a beautiful view of the city and the valley.

Demir Kapı
The Iron Gate of Antioch is to the south of St. Pierre Church and is on the high wall built on the deep and narrow valley between Mount Habib Neccar and Mount Haç in order to control the creek flowing near the church.

Accana (Alalah) and Hittite Palace
Accana Tumulus is the ruins of Alalah city, an ancient settlement northeast of Antakya. There are two palace ruins from the 5th century BC. Settlement began in 3400 BC, and 17 different residential layers used by Egyptians, Mitani, Mesopotamians and Hittites have been discovered.

Habib Neccar Mosque
The Mosque is located at the intersection of Kurtuluş Avenue and Kemalpaşa Avenue and was named after Habib Neccar, who was the first believer of the Apostles sent by Jesus and was martyred while trying to protect them. The mosque is from the Ottoman period and the fountain is a work of the 19th century.

Ulucami
Ulu Mosque is near the bridge and is the oldest mosque in town. It was built in the Mamluk period. The mosque and the minaret have been repaired several times.

Sokullu Mehmet Paşa Külliyesi
It is located in Payas and it was built by Mimar Sinan for Sokullu Mehmet Paşa. A kitchen, two fountains, a caravansaray, a marketplace, a bath and a school are among the sections of the külliye.

Kanuni Sultan Süleyman Han
It is in Belen, and Sultan Süleyman the Magnificent had it built in 1549. A mosque, a hamam and the han still exist today.

Natural Beauties
Harbiye is the waterfalls region to the south of Antakya on the site of ancient Daphne among the trees. It was forbidden to cut the trees because, according to mythology, the wood nymph Daphne had been transformed into a laurel-tree by her father as she was trying to escape from the grasp of Apollo, who had fallen in love with her. Restaurants and picnic areas are available. Çevlik is an ancient city founded in 4500 BC. It has the longest beach in the Mediterranean Sea where history, nature and sea embrace. Yenişehir is a natural lake on the highway to the Çilvegözüborder gate. The lake has a natural beach and houses various kinds of fish.

Antakya Cuisine
Bulgur (boiled and pounded wheat), meat, spices, pomegranate juice, pepper paste and salted yogurt are the main ingredients of the rich Antakya cuisine. Vegetables and fruits are abundant, so most of the people dry vegetables such as fresh peppers and eggplants and prepare tarhana (a dried food made chiefly of yogurt, tomatoes and flour, used for making soup), bulgur and various kinds of cheese for winter.

Here are some local foods:
Oruk
: A kind of stuffed meatball (içli köfte). The stuffing is composed of roasted mincemeat, bulgur, spices, pine nut and walnut.

Ekşi açı : A juicy food with small içli köfte put into a sauce composed of water, tomato juice and spices.

Yoğurt açı: Water is boiled with salted yogurt and small içli köfte are added.

Kaytaz börek: A kind of pastry with mincemeat.

Katıklı ekmek: A kind of thin bread with spinach and çökelek cheese in it. It is also called spinach bread.

Aşşur: Meat, wheat and spices are cooked and ground. It is also called herişe or keşkek.

Tepsi kebabı (Tray kebab): It look like meatballs but is baked on a tray in an oven.

Künefe: A kind of desert made of tel kadayıf and fresh cheese. It is the specialty of Antakya.





A Food Trip to Antakya
A Bus Tour to Antakya
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Antakya
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