We made a full day excursion to Antakya (biblical Antioch of Syria). Turning south along the Mediterranean we passed the plain of Issus where the armies of Alexander and Darius fought in 333 B.C. Further south we passed Iskenderun (Turkish word for Alexandria) which was founded by Alexander the Great. It was along this land bridge that many ancient powers, Hittities, Macedonian, Romans, and Crusaders, made their way to ancient Canaan (Israel, Palestine). Antioch of Syria on the Orontes River was founded by Seleucus I Nicator in 300 B.C. Antioch became a Roman city in 64 B.C. and capital of the new province of Syria. It became the third largest city of the Roman Empire after Rome and Alexandria. After Jerusalem, Antioch was the second great center of Christianity in New Testament times and where the disciples of Christ were first called Christians (Acts 11:19-30; 13:1-3; 14:26-28; 15:1-41; 18:22-23; Gal. 2). A church called the Cave Church of St. Peter honors Peter’s visit to the city (Gal. 2).. From here the great journeys of Paul began. This photo shows part of the modern city from Mount Silpius.
The museum has a fine collection of 4th century A.D. mosaics from nearby Daphne. After lunch we visited the site of the port of Seleucia (near Samandag) which was founded by Seleucus I Nicator in 300 B.C. and served as the seaport of Antioch. From here Barnabas and Saul sailed for Cyprus (Acts 13:4). We saw the tunnel built by the Roman emperors Vespasian and Titus to control flooding in the area. The photo below is of the Besikil Cave, a rock cut tomb monument dating to as early as the first century A.D.
Tomorrow we visit Derbe, Lystra, and Iconium (modern Konya).