Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Ancient Antioch

Day 12 & 13, (April 13 & 14, 2013) of our OAT's Turkey's Sacred lands and Ancient Civilizations Tour. We explore Antioch, visit an Armenian village, scramble along an immense tunnel and dip our toes in the Mediterranean.

Antioch is an ancient city on the Orontes River in Turkey. Its ruins lie near the modern city of Antakya. It was founded near the end of the 4th century BC by one of Alexander the Great's generals, Seleucus I Nicator

Antioch's geographic, military and economic location were good, the city prospered, and eventually it rivaled Alexandria as the chief city of the Near East. It's location was near the spice trade routes, the Silk Road, and the Persian Royal Road.
Antioch played a pivotal role in the emergence of both Judaism and early Christianity. It has been called "the cradle of Christianity.

St Peter's Church

Acts of the Apostles (11:25-27) relates the biblical story of the Apostle Paul and his travel to Antioch. Converts there were called Christians for the first time in history. Tradition considers Peter as the founder of the church of Antioch; it is one of the first Christian church

Because of restoration we were unable to even get near.
The church is behind the sloping structure, under restoration
During the Middle Ages Antioch declined in significance partially due to repeated earthquakes, the Crusaders' invasions, and a change in trade routes.
Today Antakya (Antioch) prides itself on its diverse population, an unusually successful multi-culturalism (Arab-Sunni, Arab-Alevi, Arab-Orthodox, Turkmen and Turks) and its very rich history.
Old houses are in the older sections of town

Wind turbines and microwave dishes

The green on the left is not grass, but another building!
"skinny" mosque

Walk to the Market

You can buy almost anything in the  Bazaar
Our fearless guide explains what we are seeing

This is green henna

"Cay" is tea

Peppers,, eggplant and other dried vegetable sold by the string.
The shells are soaked in warm water and stuffed.

The Sorcerer's Apprentice's worst nightmare!

I was offered a "ride" on this mules's saddle


bird shop 
Pasta dough is pipetted onto a hot, flat surface and baked. The stiff pasta is combined with cheese and other ingredients in a pan and cooked over coal for a delicious dessert whose name I don't know.

My  son, champion baker!

Ready to be sold

Vakifli-Only Armenian Village in Turkey

The next day we visited an Armenian village.

In 1939 when the Providence of Hatay joined the Republic of Turkey, five of the six Armenian villages then decided to relocate to Syria and Lebanon; only one village stayed--Vakifli. 

We visited this charming, neat village and talked with a local representative. He explained that the villagers have a hard time finding spouses as they believed that one should not marry anyone more closely related than 7th cousin! Since the village is so small they are all related!

We also stepped into the church an listened to the church service being chanted in Armenian. It was an amazing experience.

Armenian tatting and crocheting

Oranges still on the tree from last year plus this year's blossoms
The fragrance was wonderful

Neat Armenian house

Mint, rose hip and apple tea for tea break

Seleucia and the Titus Tunnel

Seleucus I Nicator of Syria founded Seleucia Pieria (present day Samandag) in 301 B.C. as the harbor for his capital in Antioch. 

About 80 A.D. the Roman Emperor Titus commissioned  a tunnel to divert flood waters from the mountains away from the harbor to prevent silting. 

We went to visit this wonder of Roman engineering.

Getting there over the mountain of Moses

Moses Mountain

This mountain is in Syria--I don't know it's name

The present day harbor at Samandag. The ancient harbor was in a different location

The ravine (slash across the photo) leads to the Mediterranean.
The Titus tunnel is underground at the far right of the ravine and empties flood water into it.

Exploring the Tunnel

We entered the tunnel along a walkway, then climbed down the rocks to the tunnel floor. The rocks were polished to a high shine and were very slippery. 

The tunnel has two sections carved through the rock separated by a section of natural ravine walls

the start

An irrigation canal runs along the tunnel  (right)

Tall walls!

Looking into the second tunnel

Looking up through the ravine

Steps leading down from the ravine partially to the tunnel floor

 Fun at the beach

Nurdan operates the bus door and "accidentally" honks the horn

People fleeing the honking bus!

Beach dog

After strolling the beach we headed back to our hotel.

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