Explore the Great History of the Church of St Peter on a Tour of Antakya
Antakya is built on the site of ancient Antiocheia ad Orontem and officially known as Hatay. Antakya is a prosperous and modern city near the Syrian border and is very popular with tourists taking Antakya tours. Under the Romans, Antioch's important Christian community developed out of the already sizeable Jewish population that was at one time led by St Paul. Antakya today is home to a mixture of faiths – Sunni, Alevi and Orthodox Christian – and has a cosmopolitan and civilised air.
Locals have named their hometown Bariş Şehri (City of Peace) and that is just what it is. In the ecumenical city of Antakya, you'll find at least five different religions and sects represented within a couple of streets of one another. The Arab influence can be seen in the local life, food and language; indeed, the city only became part of Turkey in 1939 after centuries conjoined in some form or another to Syria. Most visitors come for its Antakya archaeology museum tours or as pilgrims to the Church of St Peter. Be sure to take a stroll along the Orontes (Asi) River and through the bazaars and back lanes of a city said to be an underrated jewel of the Turkish Mediterranean.
Antakya known as the biblical city of Antioch lies on the banks of Asi River (Orontes) on a fertile plain surrounded by grand mountains. Once the capital of the Seleucid kings, it was renowned for its wealth and luxury. In the 7th century, Antioch was one of five patriarchal centres of the Christian church, the others being Rome, Alexandria, Jerusalem, and İstanbul (Constantinople). In Roman times, the city thrived with its commerce and culture. It was prominently featured in early Christianity where the name "Christian" was first coined. A cave which is now known as the Grotto of St. Peter or Church of Saint Peter is thought to be where the Apostle Peter preached when he came to Antioch and is believed to be one of the first Christian houses of worship and can be seen on a tour of Church of St Peter in Antakya. This grotto-church, found on the Antakya- Reyhanlı road, is sacred for the world of Christian as the cities of Jerusalem or Rome and it is the only building to have survived from the earliest time of Christianity when this new faith had begun to spread. In 1963, the papacy made the site as a place of pilgrimage and was also recognised as the world’s first cathedral. Every year on June 29th, a service is conducted at the Church of St. Peter whereby Christians and clergymen attend from all over the world.
Antakya in the province of Hatay is an inexhaustible treasure house of history and a centre of civilisation and can be seen on Antakya daily tours. Evidence of the earliest settlement goes as far back as the Epipaleolithic ages (40.000- 9.000 BC) which you can now see in the caves found in Antakya-Şenköy, Samandağ-Çevlik, and Yayladağ-Üçağızlı. From around 9000 BC onwards, Hatay was successively controlled by the Akkadians, the Hittites, the Hurrians, the Persians, the Assyrians, the Macedonians, the Romans, the Byzantines, the Arabs, the Seljuks, the Crusaders, the Mamluks, and the Ottomans.
Visit Harbiye (Daphne) on an Antakya city tour, and is found about 7 kilometres from Antakya and is a popular picnic area and a virtual paradise lush greenery and blessed with an abundance of water. According to legend, this is the where Apollo first saw Daphne, a beautiful nymph, and then fell in love with her. He tried to approach her but she fled, and Apollo began to pursue her. When she knew there was no escape, she prayed to the Mother Earth and begged for her protection who transformed her into a laurel tree just as Apollo reached her. After this, a crown of laurel leaves was then used to award excellent poetry and military prowess. They say Daphne’s tears are still flowing over the waterfalls of Harbiye. The essential oils of this laurel tree are used to make the famous laurel soap which is entirely natural and is highly recommended for healthfulness.
Best Time To Visit Antakya
Hatay, Antakya is situated along the Mediterranean climate zone and is hot and dry during the summer while the winters are cold and wet. The City centre of Antakya, Dortyol, Iskenderun and Samandag also have cold, wet winters and dry, hot summers. Climate conditions in "Yayladag" and other inland areas are slightly harsher than the coastal areas. You can comfortably take Antakya tours in all seasons.
Typical Costs in Antakya
Costs will vary a lot during the high and low season, but Antakya daily tours prices are set all season. Prices of food will also depend on where you dine; local restaurants are reasonably priced. If you're on a budget, street food would be an ideal option. But hotels may be more expensive and local transport is regular and cheap.
Know Before Visiting Antakya
Always check with the embassy before visiting Antakya as you may need to obtain a Visa before entering Turkey. Wear appropriate clothing and footwear when on an Antakya city tour so that you're comfortable. Also if you are visiting any religious places make sure you stay covered. If possible Keep a copy of your passport and any valuables in your hotel safe.
Weather in Antakya
In Antakya, the summers can be long, hot, muggy, dry, and bright and the winters are cold, wet, and cloudy. The average temperature in the course of the year typically varies from around 42°F to 93°F and is rarely goes below 33°F or above 98°F. The best time to take some Antakya daily tours is May-June and September to October.
Dining And Nightlife in Antakya
The city of Antakya is known for its tasty cuisine which has many Middle Eastern influences which are definitely worth trying while on your Antakya city tour. One of the must eat in Antakya is a dessert called Künefe, which is a shredded pastry with cheese. There are many Künefe houses scattered in the city, but they are mainly concentrated in the main square of the city. Many restaurants in the city centre cater to all tastes with tasty Turkish cuisine, and a few international restaurants are available. You will also find many smaller cafes serving a delicious doner kebap and smaller snacks. Nightlife in Antakya is relatively quiet, but you will find some lovely smaller Turkish bars playing some live Turkish music and a few bars and discos playing something a bit more upbeat if you want to boogie the night away.
Antakya's top spot for affordable, delicious meals. This bustling place is just the thing to dive into Hatay's fusion of Middle Eastern and Turkish cuisine. The manager loves to guide diners through the menu and will help you pick from the diverse array of mezes and fresh local kebap options. Make sure to leave room to order the famous künefe for dessert.
This restaurant is very popular with families, the local glitterati and couples, Antakya's culinary hotspot serve a long list of excellent mezes on gold-coloured tablecloths in a splendid al fresco garden where the palm trees push through the roof. Meat dishes include the Anadolu kebap and the special kağıt ('paper' kebap, cooked in paper).
The Barudi Bar is very popular and one of Antakya's most happening hang-outs for all types of guests from students to couples and groups of friends, with its hideaway inner courtyard. You can get a good range of imported beers, wines and spirits and there is an impressive list of cocktails. The staff are very friendly catering to your every need.
This local bar is where the students hang-out with brick walls and shuttered windows is an atmospheric spot for a tea, coffee or something a bit stronger. There's occasional live music, cheap snacks aplenty, and tucked around the back is an even cosier private courtyard. This is a great way to mix with the locals and listen to a bit of Turkish rock, pop and traditional music.
Shopping in Antakya
Crafts in Antakya are continued today in a small way are silk weaving, wood carving, matting and stone masonry. Wicker and reed weaving crafts in the village of Altınözü's Paslıkaya and Antakya's Sofular Village are found fascinating by tourists. In particular, wicker plates and trays have practically become Hatay’s symbol. Buying some samples of these crafts would be wise. Thanks to the large laurel groves on the mountains surrounding the city, laurel soaps, and are said to have benefits on the skin and hair. These soaps are unique to this city and are made of local olive oil with some laurel extract stirred in and can be found on Antakya tours.
As the bazaar is found on the historic Silk Road, it has been the centre of trade over the years and is known as the place where the heart of business takes place in Antakya. The Long Bazaar, which has inns, baths and mosques, houses people of different professions. It is possible to find original products and tastes, including laurel soap, olive oil, liquorice sherbet and the famous künefe, in the bazaar and is one of the meeting places of many local and foreign tourists. The Long Bazaar is the life-line of the city's economy. Thousands of people visit the bazaar, which is nearly 3.5 kilometres long, every day.
If you want a rest from the haggling and want something a little bit more modern or you are missing your home comforts, then head to one of the shopping malls like Palladium and Prime Mall. These have all your branded goods as well as some traditional Turkish home decor. There is usually a food hall at the malls if you want to grab a snack or try one of the restaurants on offer with some lovely Turkish cuisine. They even cater for children as some of them will have indoor play areas.
How to Reach Antakya
Domestic flights are available to the Hatay Airport, 25 km north from the city centre. The closest international airport is located in Adana, a couple of hundred kilometres to the north.
If you need a transfer, you can pre-book one of our transfers who will pick you up from the airport and take you to your desired destination.
The nearest station is in Iskenderun about 58km from Antakya, which has several daily train connections with Adana and Mersin.
You can take a bus from most major cities in Turkey which will take you to the central bus station about 7km from the city centre of Antakya. Once there you can get a local bus or taxi to your desired destination.