October 4, 2013 by travelingsole
This is Antioch (not to be confused with Antioch of Syria). There are numerous Bible passages that talk about Antioch. The most popular being Acts 11 and Acts 13:14-50.
This city was called “the cradle of Christianity”. Antioch was the 3rd largest city of the world, just smaller than, Rome and Alexandria. This was during the Hellenistic Period (300 years before Christ). In 526 AD, an earthquake killed 250,000-300,000 people. This is believed to be the 6th largest natural disaster in history.
Antakya was our first city to visit with our small group. For privacy reasons, I’m sorry I will not be sharing a lot of pictures of the people in my group.
In Antakya it was so hot that we often went out in the morning explored for a while then went back to the hotel for an afternoon siesta. Around 4 pm we’d venture out again for more exploring and dinner. Finding restaurants that we enjoyed was always a challenge. By this time we were a little tired of Turkish restaurant food. There isn’t a lot of variety and we just wanted something different. We got lucky and found a few really good restaurants. One was called Asia Restaurant Cafe
One of the most enjoyable things about traveling in Turkey was meeting Turkish people. We would sit down and talk with them and get to know them a little. They could tell us local stories and we learned a lot more about the culture through these people.
It was also here that we met a künefe shop owners son. Künefe is a Middle Eastern cheese pastry soaked in sweet sugar-based syrup. We ate künefe at his shop every night and because we were his guests we ate for free. This is an interesting dessert. I first tried it in Ephesus and didn’t really like it but here in Antakya it was made fresh and it was delicious.
Today Antioch is referred to as Hatay or Antakya. It is in the little finger of Turkey that stretches down between the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea and Syria. Antakya is 30 km from the Syrian border. We were told that all foreign Arabic men, Afghans, Iraqis, etc, were soldiers. They cross the border in the morning fight during the day then come back to the city to sleep and be with their families. There are about 70,000 Syrians living in the city of Antakya. The Turks and Syrians don’t get along so they stay in their own sections of the city.
By the way, those refugee camps near the Turkish/Syrian border that are talked about on the news. Those are actually used more like barracks for soldiers and their families. Don’t send them food or money please. They are just going sell the food and buy more weapons. Calling them refugee camps is a political ploy to get unknowing Americans to send them support.
There is almost no visible history left in Antakya due to the earthquakes. If you looked up on the mountains surrounding the city you could see ruins of the old city walls. There was also the Church of St. Peter. It is a cave. It’s believed to be one of the first churches in the history of Christianity. We couldn’t actually go in because it was closed for renovations but we had a little prayer meeting on the hill nearby.
Just a couple street scenes yet.