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Biblical - Culturel Tours and Blue Voyage Gulet Cruises in Turkey

  Biblical & Holy Sites Turkey: ANTIOCH

ANTIOCH or ANTAKYA, city, Turkey's, capital of Hatay Province, on the Orontes River, near the Mediterranean Sea. The modern city is a trade and processing center for the adjacent agricultural plain. Citrus fruit and grapes are grown in abundance; other important crops are olives, melons, wheat, and cotton. Manufactured products include soap, silk and leather goods, and metal handicrafts. It was the ancient capital of the Seleucid dynasty in Syria and of a province of the Roman Empire. The city was founded in 301 BC by Seleucus I, one of the generals and successors of Alexander the Great. Strategically located at the crossroads of important caravan routes, it soon became a center of commerce and one of the leading cities of the world, famous for a magnificence of architecture rivaled only by Rome and Alexandria. When Syria was conquered by Rome in 64 BC, Antioch became the eastern capital of the Roman Empire. The Romans added to the architectural splendors of the city, building temples, palaces, and theaters, extending aqueducts, and paving main streets with marble. Antioch was the center of Christendom outside Palestine. The apostles preached there before starting out on their missionary journeys, and in Antioch the term Christian, designating converts of St. Paul, first came into use. In AD 260 Antioch fell to the Persians. Over the next 13 centuries it was conquered by Arabs, Byzantines, Seljuk Turks, Frankish Crusaders, and Egyptians. The devastations of war and persistent earthquakes, including one in 526 that reportedly killed 250,000 people, reduced the once great city to relative unimportance. Antioch, known as Antakya in modern history, was captured by the Turks in 1516, and it remained a part of the Ottoman Empire until shortly after World War I, when it was conveyed to Syria under a French mandate. The province of Hatay, of which Antakya is the capital, became autonomous in 1938, and the following year it was ceded to Turkey. Although little of the ancient city remains, portions of the high walls that girded the city and of catacombs and aqueducts still stand. An archaeological museum houses a superbly preserved collection of mosaics dating from the 2d and 3d centuries. Nearby is Saint Peter's Grotto, in which the apostle preached; a church was built in the cave by Crusaders in the 12th and 13th centuries. Pop. (1990) 124,443. Antakya, the biblical Antioch, is situated on the Asi River (Orontes) in a fertile surrounding. Antakya was once the capital of the Seleucid kings and the life they lead in Antakya was renowned for its luxury and pleasures during Roman times. The city was the center of Christianity and had been visited by St.Barnabas, St.Paul and St.Peter. The city was also famous as a center of artistic, scientific and commercial activities. The Hatay Museum deserves a particular interest, in that it houses one of the richest collections of Roman mosaics in the world. A little outside the city is the holy site where St.Peter's Grotto is situated. The cave church is the place where St.Peter preached and founded the Christian community. It was declared as a holy place by Vatican in 1983. The Iron Gate of Antioch is to the south of the grotto among the ruins of the city. One can sense these far off times since little has changed since that time. The Castle of Antioch will give you a panoramic view over. Antakya is steeped in history and mythology at every step Harbiye, 8 km. after Antioch, is the place where Apollo fell in love with Daphne and tried to have her, but Mother Earth, in order to save Daphne, turned her into an elegant tree. The site is full of these trees accompanying the orchid gardens, and waterfalls where you may have a pleasant meal. St. Pierre Church, Haron Carving are the main historical remains. For both beach and sightseeing opportunities Samandag is perfect. Seleuica Pieria, 6 km south of Samandag, is the ancient city which was a busy port at the time when Paul and Barnabas made their first missionary journey from here. The Titus-Vespasianus Tunnel which was built to divert the rain waters, even by today's standard, is a superb example of engineering. Near by there are 12 rock tombs to be visited. The church front of Saint Peter’s was built by crusaders before a cave that held what may have been the earliest house of Christian worship, presided over by Saint Peter himself. A tunnel at the back of the church leads into the porous mountain’s interior. A drive to Kapisuyu Village will provide you with a fascinating scene from the Zeus Temple. There is an excellent view from there of the harbor, sandy beach and fertile plain lying below. There are many picnic and camping areas. Hunting, fishing and thermal springs' facilities are the other attractions. In Antakya also can be seen the Ulu Camii (Mosque), the Habib Neccar Mosque, Grotto of St. Peter and the collections of the Archaeological Museum.




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