History of the city
The foundation of the city goes back to the general Alexander der Grosse Antigonos in the year 307 B.C. In comparison to today the city probably lay a little bit further to the north and the development ran badly in the first years. A successor of Alexander, Seleukos Nikator (305-280 B.C.) founded the city exactly at the today's place and called them after his father Antiocheia. Here the position was exactly favorable, because the caravans of the Silk Road moved through the city, before they reached the harbour of Seleukeia at the Mediterranean Sea. In the first century B.C. the city should have over a half million inhabitants and was only a little bit smaller than Rome. The city must have been bigger around a multiple one, than today.
An antique big-city life, with several kilometres long column routes, road lightings and several long water pipes made life here pleasant.
The city was also known as a venue of the competitions to honour Apollo.
The Romans conquered the city in 64 B.C.
Especially for the Christianity this place is a significant place, because apostle Paulus visited this place regularly on his missionary journeys (apostle: 11.26; 14, 26; 15, 30, 35; 18, 22).
In this antique city the word “Christian” (Christianos) was used first time. This is mentioned in the Bible in the Acts of the Apostles 18 and 22. Indeed, the Christians couldn't exercise her religion freely. They were pursued under Diokletian and their churches were destroyed. Under Konstantin the Christianity state religion and the churches were rebuilt. Even the seat of the patriarch was laid to Antakya. More than ten councils took place in the city between 252 and 380 A.D.
The worst hour experienced the city with an earthquake, which destroyed the city over and over again completely. Especially bad was earthquake 525 which left no house probably. The conquest by the Persians in 538 signified a deportation of the inhabitants to Mesopotamia. After the back conquest of the city by Justinian, the city was called “God's city”. In 638 the Arabs conquered the city at the first time. Only short before the year 1000 the Byzantines could recapture the city again.
Till then the city was an important commercial metropolis and lived from the processing of the goods transported over the Silk Road. Silk, glass, soap and copper devices were products of the city.
In 1084 the Seljuqs came and in 1098 the crusaders.
For 170 years they determined the destiny of the city, but in the middle of 13-th century the Mamluks conquered the city.
The destruction in mediaeval times and a lot of sand in the harbour of Antakya are the reasons which make the city insignificantly. In 1516 the city was integrated in the Ottoman empire by Selim I. In 1872 there was an earthquake again which destroyed the city completely.
In the 20-th century there were different events of world-political meaning. On the Musa Dag, in sight from Antakya, a group of the Armenians could avoid the pursuit and deportation of the Turks by a spectacular defensive action. This event is become world-famous by a Roman of Franz Welfel called “The forty days of the Musa Dag”.
In 1918, after the first world war, the city was integrated into the Syrian protectorate. In 1939 there was a controversial plebiscite about the future of this region which was phoney / influenced by the Turkish military. After the plebiscite Antakya was integrated into the Turkish republic.
Learn more about the history of Antakya in our e-book publications!
Order our e-books exclusively on Amazon:
"climate like in paradise" (german edition for kindle devices)
guide "Antakya und Hatay" (german edition for kindle devices)
guide"Antakya and Hatay" (english edition for kindle devices)