Turkish Antakya, populous city of ancient Syria, since 1939 the chief town of the il (province) of Hatay in southern Turkey, near the mouth of the Orontes River (Turkish Asi Nehri). It was founded in 300 BC by the Greeks and was the centre of the Seleucid Kingdom until 64 BC, when the Romans made it the capital of their province of Syria. The city was one of the earliest centres of Christianity, serving as the headquarters of the missionary St. Paul in about AD 47-55. Antioch prospered in the 4th and 5th centuries from nearby olive plantations and in the 6th century developed a silk industry.
That century also brought a series of earthquakes and fires. Antioch was captured temporarily by the Persians in 540 and 611 and was absorbed into the Arab caliphate in 637. Under the Arabs, it shrank to the status of a small town. The Byzantines recaptured the city in 969, and it served as a frontier fortification until taken by the Seljuq Turks in 1084. In 1098 it was captured by the crusaders and was taken by the Mamluks in 1268. It finally fell to the Ottoman Turks in 1517 and remained under Ottoman control until World War I.
The activities of the modern town are based mainly on the agricultural produce of the adjacent area, including the intensively cultivated Amik plain. The chief crops are wheat, cotton, grapes, rice, olives, vegetables, and fruit. The town has soap and olive-oil factories and cotton ginning and other processing industries. Silk, shoes, and knives are also manufactured. Important archaeological discoveries have been made there.
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.