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History, Nature, Food, Religion, Hatay!

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Hatay, located at the most South point in Turkey, is an important religion and cultural hub since the early Bronze Age! This beautiful city on the eastern Mediterrean coast hosted empires such as; Akkadian Empire, the Amorite Kingdom of Yamhad an Mitannis, Hittites, the Neo-Hittite aka Hattena -which was given to the city's today name; Hatay- , Urartu, Persians, Roman Empire and many more! This impressive city with glorious history of course left a mark on the city greatly. Today, Hatay, is famous with its breathtakingly beautiful nature, ancient landmarks, delicious foods and daphne soaps! If you watched the Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Hatay also featured in that movie but if you want to dig more, let's explore Hatay together!

The first stop in this rich history city should be The Hatay Archaeology Museum. This World famous museum has an collection of Roman and Byzantine Era mosaics dating back to the Hellenistic and to the Roman era in the 2nd and 3rd centuries. This amazing mosaics have been found the ancient city of Daphne, Samandağ, Tarsus and many more. The whole collection is a great example of how art and culture of the region developed from the Paleolithic Age till today!

Inside the museum, you can see the amazing mosaics of the drunken Dionysos, Orpheus, Dancers, Ariadne Abandoned from Daphne!

Hatay Arkeoloji Müzesi
Hatay Arkeoloji Müzesi
Reyhanlı yolu üzeri Hatayspor Tesisleri yanı, 31030 Antakya, Hatay

After visiting this historical museum, it's time to get lost in the streets of Hatay! The streets of this beautiful city are the typical example of Helenistic era. In the next 250 meter, you will see the Long Bazaar which is a long bazaar :D with lots of traditional shop inside. You can find from cheese to traditional desserts, from shoes to spices and many more! You can also buy the famous Daphne soap in here.

If you are tired from all the walking, you can rest in the many shops in here and eat the tradional dessert of Hatay; künefe! Künefe is is a crispy, cheese-filled dessert made with kadayıf which is cooked and served in a round metal pan. If you love Baklava, you will also adore this!

Hatay Long Bazaar
Hatay Long Bazaar
Yeni Camii, Uzun Çarşı Cd. No:70, 31060 Antakya/Hatay, Türkiye

Hatay was a home for Christians for a long period of time. 2 km away from the Long Bazaar, you can find one of the first temple for Christians on earth; St. Pierre ( St.Peter's ) Church ! This temple which was carved into a rock is accepted as the world's one of the first churches! And more importantly, since 1983, it is a common pelerinage for Christians.

To whom who may not know St. Pierre was the first Pope in the World! This church has a great importance to the Christians since it witnessed the first Christians and their meetings. Inside this unique church, you can find floor mosaics, altar and many more holy object from the 4th or 5th century!

St. Pierre Church Hatay
St. Pierre Church Hatay
Küçükdalyan Mahallesi, 31120 Antakya/Hatay, Türkiye

And the last but not least part of Hatay; the breathtakingly beautiful nature! Let me take you Harbiye, where we can find beautiful waterfalls, where you can drink tea or coffee while being mesmerized while gazing the nature.

Harbiye is not only famous by its amazing nature, but also it is in the exact same point of Daphne ancient city! Back in the time, here was covered with glorious mansions, holy temples and lot's of places for entertainment. Sadly, a massive earthquake destroyed this ancient city but still its history kept alive! Here, you will see lots of daphne trees and its soaps which has a mythological story!

As Wikipedia, the story is; " Once the god Apollo made fun of Eros,the god of love. Eros was angry, and shot a golden arrow at Apollo, making him fall in love with the nymph Daphne the virgin. But Eros also shot Daphne with a leaden arrow so she could never love Apollo back. So Apollo followed her while she ran away, until she came to the river of her father Peneus. Apollo is jealous and puts it into the girl's mind to stop to bathe in the river Ladon; there, as all strip naked, the ruse is revealed, as in the myth of Callisto. There she wanted help from Peneus, who turned her into a laurel tree so she would be safe from Apollo. Apollo was sad, and made himself a laurel wreath (a circle made of laurel that you put on your head) from the tree, and the laurel tree became sacred to Apollo and is used by emperors within the culture. After the crown was used for all the winners at his games and great heroes in the years to come would be crowned with laurel leaves. He also vowed that she, like him, would have eternal youth where her leaves would never turn brown or fall but would always stay lush and green. Apollo loved that laurel with all his heart."

Harbiye Selalesi -Daphne Ancient City
Harbiye Selalesi -Daphne Ancient City
Harbiye Mahallesi, Harbiye Şelalesi, 31550, Harbiye Bucağı Yolu, 31080 Defne/Hatay, Türkiye

Of course Hatay is not only famous by its Künefe when it comes to culinary. You can also enjoy many kebabs mixed with pine nuts, pistachios, olives and spices before receiving the classic skewer and grill treatment, lahmacun, broad bean puree, hummus topped with tender pastrami and melted butter, knife-cut mincemeat, amazing mezzes, baked or boiled oruk (içli köfte) comes stuffed with nuts, and crumbly lamb meat seasoned with Hatay spices and many more. You can taste this amazing foods anywhere in Hatay!

If you want to visit Hatay, find your inspiration on itinari now!

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The author

Alara Benlier

Alara Benlier

My name is Alara Benlier, I am Turkish but currently living in Germany! I share my experiences in Germany, Turkey and the Netherlands!

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