Region: Hatay (Antakya)
Local time: 02:45
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 Daphne prayed to the river god Peneus to help her and he transformed her into a laurel which became sacred to Apollo. 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. Seleucia 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.
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, camping areas and thermal springs in the area.