The Turquoise Coast : Places to Explore

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Antakya (Antioch)

Antakya is perhaps better known by its old name, Antioch. Founded in about 300 BC by Seleucus Nikator, one of Alexander's generals, the city grew quickly, thanks to its strategic location on the trade routes. After the Roman occupation began in AD 64, Antioch became the empire's third most important city, after Rome and Alexandria. Famed for its luxury and notorious for its depravity, it was chosen by St. Paul as the objective of his first mission to the gentiles. After enduring earthquakes and Byzantine and Arab raids, it fell to the crusaders in 1098; Egyptian raiders nearly leveled it in 1268. A late addition to the Turkish Republic, it was occupied by France after 1920 as part of its mandate over Syria, which still has an outstanding territorial claim on it. Though the city reverted to Turkey just before World War II, it still maintains a distinctive character. The people of Antioch are mostly bilingual, speaking both Turkish and a local dialect of Arabic. In the cobbled streets of the old quarter, on the east bank of the River Orontes, you can also hear Syriac (Aramaic), the language spoken by many of Turkey's Christians.

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