Hatay Province

Hatay - Scenery at St. Simeon near Antakya - Hatay

In the Hatay province, especially in the surroundings of Antakya, are many places of historical interest. One of these is Saint Simeon Monastery (Aya Simeon Manastırı). In 521 CE, at the age of merely seven Simeon Stylites the Younger, a native from Antioch, decided to follow the example of his name holder Simeon Stylites the Elder who devoted his life sitting atop an increasingly higher pillar at what is now known as Qalaat Samaan near Aleppo in present-day Syria. Young Simeon kept up living on his pillar and Aya Simeon Manastırı, just as Qalaat Samaan, became a site of pilgrimage for Christianity. According to some source Saint Simeon Stylites the Younger spent a total of 68 years living up pillars.

At Çevlik, at about 35 km from Antakya and close to the sea-side, there are the ruins of Seleucia-ad-Pieria, the ancient port of Antioch. There is also the Titus and Vespasian Tunnel (Titüs ve Vespasianüs Tüneli), a masterpiece of Roman engineering. The walk to the tunnel, through a gorge and over the rocks appeared a bit too difficult for us though. However, we did find an early Christian rock-hewn monastery.

South of Antakya lies Harbiye, the ancient Daphne, where, according to Greco-Roman mythologyApollo tried to make the wood-nymph, Daphne, his lover. To escape him, she changed into a laurel tree. Daphne was a luxurious suburb in Roman times, with the villas decorated with the mosaics now on display in Antakya's Hatay Archeology MuseumHarbiye - Daphne, being covered with orchards, gardens, laurel trees, and waterfalls is an excellent place for a picnic.

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