1. Antakya is a large but average-looking city in southeast Turkey, just 12 miles from the Syrian border. It became the city from which the message of Jesus Christ spread outwards to much of the Roman world.
2. Was there something special about Antioch-on-the-Orontes, the "the fair crown of the Orient", that enabled the spread of the Christian Gospel? The grotto is called the Church of St. Peter marks the place where tradition says the early church met
3. Antioch was a key city for the spreading of the Christian faith. It was a city of great religious importance and the home of Greek and Roman temples. A city suburb, Daphne, was said to be where where Daphne was turned into a laurel tree to escape the lust of Apollo.
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5. Antioch had also been the home of a large Jewish community since the city's founding in 300 BC. Jews could make a good living here and they had a strong sense of community, even while living among other groups.
6. What was it about Antioch that favored Paul’s use of it as his base for his several journeys of faith? Antioch played an important role in the development of the Christian church
7. It was here that the followers of Jesus were first called "Christians" (Acts 11:26). The Gospel of Matthew may have been written here and Luke may have interacted with some of the people who knew Jesus Christ.
8. Antioch hosted a number of church councils. Interestingly, the Church there developed its own school of biblical interpretation.
9. Three Fathers of the Christian movement come to mind readily: the martyr-bishop Ignatius of Antioch, the pillar-saint Simeon and the "golden-mouthed" preacher John Chrysostom.
10. Extensive excavations were undertaken in Antioch starting In the 1930s. Ancient mosaics and colorful artifacts are on display in the local museum. All the major buildings are still hidden under the modern city of Antakya.
11. In addition to the Hatay Archaeological Museum most visitors visit the Cave Church of St. Peter, believed be the oldest church in the world.
12. The geographical position could not be better. The Orontes River, which flows from Lebanon through Syria and into Turkey, makes a sharp turn southwards. It was protected by high mountains, but a narrow pass left the trade routes open to the east and south.
13. Several ancient towns existed here due to the fertility of the plain and the relative security offered by the hills around the valley. A map in the museum shows the location of at least 23 yet-to-be excavated mounds, or tels.
14. Historians can trace dozens of tracks of the earliest civilizations. Two of the more important are the settlement of Meroe and a village on the spur of Mount Silpius named Io, or Iopolis, a possible indication that the Attic Ionians enjoyed status here.
15. Alexander the Great, having conquered the Persian army for the first time in 333 B.C., began his imposition of Greek civilization in Antioch by dedicating an altar to Zeus Bottiaeus
16. After Alexander's death in 323 BC, Seleucus I Nicator was the general who gained control of the large share of the eastern Mediterranean. He founded three more cities, all named for members of his family: Seleucia Pieria, Apamea and Laodicea-on-the-Sea.
17. A genius of a man, Seleucus I energetically built nine cities with the name Seleucus, sixteen cities with the name Antioch and six cities with the name Laodiceas (according to some sources).
18. Seleucus next founded Antioch on a site chosen through the same means, in the twelfth year of his reign. Although Seleucia Pieria was at first the Seleucid capital city in northwestern Syria, Antioch soon rose above it to become the Syrian capital.
19. The original city of Seleucus was laid out in imitation of the "gridiron" plan of Alexandria by the architect Xenarius. Two great colonnaded streets intersected in the centre.
20. Shortly afterwards a second quarter was laid out, probably on the east. This was where the native peoples lived.
21. A third quarter was on a large island in the middle of the river.
22. The fourth quarter was added by Antiochus IV Epiphanes (175-164 B.C.). Antioch became known as Tetrapolis, the city of four peoples.
23. Already in 150 B.C. the city was full of gardens and was known as one of the most liberal cities in the world; it was home to people who came from many different ethnic backgrounds. .
24. The new city was populated by a mix of local settlers, Athenians brought from the nearby city of Antigonia, Macedonians, and Jews (who were given full status from the beginning).
25. Antioch grew from 25,000, not including the slaves and natives.
26. The population growth was astonishing: within two centuries of its being founded the population of Antioch may have reached its peak of over 500,000 inhabitants
27. Some estimates place the low end at 400,000 and the high estimate ranges up to 600,000. This city was now the third largest city in the world; only Rome and Alexandria were larger
28. By the year 400 Antioch's seemed to have declined to about 200,000 according to Chrysostom. Population figures never included slaves in the calculation in the Greek or Roman world
29. Today the population of Antakya is about 70,000 people, including all categories of workers.
30. Beyond the suburb Heraclea lay gardens and wealthy homes, the “paradise of Daphne”. This park was a place of trees and lakes, surrounded the great temple to the Pythian Apollo and other gods.
31. Daphne became known for its moral “openness”, so much so that writers of the time either praised Antioch or scorned the city fathers for their liberal attitudes.
32. The beauty and the lax morals of Daphne were celebrated all over the western world; and indeed Antioch as a whole shared in both these titles to fame. Its amenities awoke both the enthusiasm and the scorn of many writers of antiquity.
33. Not only was Antioch the pace setter for urban growth and lax morals, but the political situation favored an outward policy of both local control and international diplomacy.
34. Seleucid leader, Antiochus I, made the capital a grand place, creating a “court-city” that was the hub of an empire.
35. The Battle of Ancyra, (Ankara) in 240 B.C., shifted the center of gravity to the west. From this date the city of Pergamon, in Asia Minor, (another key city in the last part of the Bible) took its place on the international stage.
36. One other factor that influenced the growth of Christianity was the multiplicity of languages and the ease with which people from near and far settled in Antioch.
37. Greek and Latin were foremost in the city. Aramaic was common in the non-official life. The gods and goddesses of northern Syria and western Mesopotamia made the city hospitable to people from the East.
38. Persians came and went at ease. The local languages of Cilicia and Phrygia were heard at the docks. In short, Antioch welcomed all languages to her bosom.
39. Ancient writers abound in their stories and descriptions of Antioch.
40. “Antioch the Golden” was the nickname, giving a hint of the endless accumulation of wealth. However, earthquakes forced the local inhabitants to be always on the look out for ways to improve the city after another disturbance.
41. A huge earthquake in 148 B.C. badly damaged the chief buildings according to John Malalas.
42. Why were the Followers of the Way first called Christians in Antioch? This may reflect the fact that the constant interaction of languages, religions and customs gave rise to turbulent discussions in the city. People were used to name calling, making up new names.
43. Both competition and harmony existed between the four quarters. Many young men were likely fickle and dissolute. Rebellions arose against the House of Seleucid.
44. A year after the terrible earthquake of 148 B.C., and maybe because of it, Alexander Balas faced a rebellion in 147 B.C.
45. Only 18 years later Demetrius II enlisted Jews in 129 B.C. to punish the rebels with fire and sword. It may have been of the first time that this Jewish community helped the government to restore order.
46. Three more rebellions followed that enabled Antioch to become a Roman province, part of the Senatorial Provincial holdings. Feeble rulers were ousted in 83 B.C. and Tigranes of Armenia took charge.
47. The city tired of Antiochus 13th in 65 B.C. and asked Rome not to permit him to return to power a year later.
48. That same year, in 64 B.C. Antioch passed fully into Roman hands as a civitas libera, Free city, a Roman city with special privileges.
49. Rome quickly saw that Antioch was a more suitable capital than Alexandria. The expanding eastern side of the Roman Empire needed both a physical as well as a symbolic bulwark,.
50. Roman law, so important in the book of Acts, was a part of the life blood of the city. A forum was built, as were two long colonnades. The Theatre was expanded. Granite and white stones polished off the city with dazzling attractiveness. (Continue to photos 51-100 click NEXT)
51. A circus was added and the water supply was guaranteed with aqueducts. King Herod added a long stoa. Here the Jews could mingle with the Romans and Greeks and have the best of both worlds.
52. Peter came to Antioch and engaged with Paul in a momentous discussion: How were Christians to live on the one hand with Jews since many of the new followers of Jesus came from the Jewish synagogues?
53. And how could the Gentiles, no longer part of the hybrid of Greek, Roman, Egyptian or Mesopotamian gods and cults, be part of the same body as Jews who now professed Christ?
54. It is possible that some of these arguments took place in the grotto on the side of the mountain. This church is said to be the oldest in the world. It makes sense since there would have been few places open to the new faith that rejected the old, familiar gods.
55. The Antiochenes Patriarchate, located in the very center of the city still rests its claim for primacy on the visit of Peter.
56. Certainly Paul and Barnabas, John Mark and Silas, and dozens of others had to learn how to live out their Christian faith in the midst of a pagan and often hostile world to their new faith.
57. Paul, originally Saul of Tarsus, used Antioch as his base for the three journeys that he made to the west and north of Antioch. His energetic preaching, his willingness to engage in debate and personal growth of the new converts led to an astounding growth of Christians.
58. Some historians reckon that the city of Antioch had upwards of 100,000 Christians by the time of Chrysostom, about 400 A.D.
59. Once Christianity had become the official religion of the Roman Empire it became a favorite place for Assemblies of the Bishops. Ten Assemblies were reported to have been held between 252 and 300 A.D.
60. Under the new government in Constantinople Antioch was the seat of one of the four patriarchates. The others were Jerusalem, Alexandria and Rome.
61. Antioch, ever the city to bring different cultures, ideologies and languages together, became home to the Eastern Orthodox and the, Antiochian Orthodox Church. The Syrian Church was also present here.
62. The stuff of movies and soap operas abound in Antioch. Julian Caesar in 362 regarded Antioch as a rival city to Constantinople. He knew that pagans and Christians lived together in harmony
63. However, he arrived while a theatrical play was going on and it is said that he came just as a lament was going up for Adonis, the lover of Aphrodite, was about to die. Therefore as he stepped into the theatre there were sounds of weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth.
64 Because Antioch was Rome's gateway to Persia and the deserts, the Roman Empire needed the loyalty of the city and its people. However, Julian became determined to live his own life and people made fun of his habits, his pointed beard and his soldiers.
65. Julian confiscated the property of Christians because they rebelled against the torture he had previously carried out on a man who permitted the Temple of Daphne to be burned down. Such stories abound.
66. The Antiochenes in turn hated Julian for worsening the food shortage after he billeted troops in the homes of local people. An enormous breach was forming between the authority of the Empire and the loyalties of the people of Antioch.
67. Severe conflict between the population at large and the Christians on one hand, and the soldiers and Emperor Julian’s high handed pagan ways marked the low point of relationships between Antioch and Rome. status.
68. Antioch was renamed Theopolis, “City of God”, by the Byzantine Justinian I. He restored buildings following the deadly earthquake in 526 A.D. 300,000 people died due to the earthquake and Khosrau I, the cruel Persian king. The broken city walls were never fully restored.
69. A certain kind of Christian interpretation came to characterize the Christians in Antioch. These were “literalists”. They gave emphasis to the literal limitations of Jesus. Diodorus of Tarsus and Theodore of Mopsuestia promoted teaching debated in several Assemblies
70. Simon Stylites took the teachings of Jesus literally and gave up all his freedom, living on the top of a pillar for 40 years. Throngs of watchers came to see him and a cult of self-sacrifice grew up in part of the church of Antioch.
71. Heraclius was the Byzantine emperor in Constantinople. For hundreds of years Antioch remained the frontier battle line between forces loyal to Constantinople and enemies who moved into present day Turkey. Therefore the population of the city fell to less than 30,000.
72. Muslim forces conquered the city in 637 A.D under Rashidun. Unrest ruled. The city was regained in 969 by Emperor Nicephorus II and others. One hundred years later the Armenians came from the north; they were empowered by their wealth on the Silk Road.
73. The Seljuk Turks took the city in 1084, only to loose the city when the Crusaders arrived suddenly in 1098.
74. For two hundred years Antioch remained in the hands of Crusaders and local groups who stood as a buffer against the Egyptian Mamelukes Sultans.
75. A long siege in 1268 led to the complete collapse of the Christian population with many Christians massacred and the churches burned. Antioch never recovered its base as a dynamic city or a usable port.
76. Between 1932 and 1939, archaeological excavations of Antioch were undertaken under the direction of the "Committee for the Excavation of Antioch and Its Vicinity,"
77. The Louvre Museum, the Baltimore Museum of Art, the Worcester Art Museum, Princeton University, and later (1936) also the Fogg Art Museum at Harvard University and its affiliate Dumbarton Oaks have made a huge contribution to our understanding of the past.
78. Today there is an active Orthodox Church,
79. and a small Roman Catholic congregation
80 and a few Protestant churches in Antakya, Antioch. While this city is the most ecumenical of Turkey's regions, the Muslim population is about 97%.
81. If you visit Antioch you must take in the Mosaic Museum. The next 20 photos show some of the mosaics that you will see in Antioch - Antakya. These are the ancient walls to the east of Antioch.
82. Floor mosaic in the Mosaic Museum of Antakya.
83. Floor mosaic in the Mosaic Museum of Antakya.
84. Floor mosaic in the Mosaic Museum of Antakya from a house that had bay windows (?) .
85. Floor mosaic in the Mosaic Museum of Antakya.
86 Statue of Emperor Hadrian in the Mosaic Museum of Antakya.
87. Variety of mosaics in the Mosaic Museum of Antakya.
88. Terracotta lamps for every day use, in the Mosaic Museum of Antakya.
89. Byzantine coins on display in the Mosaic Museum of Antakya.
90. Sarcophagus in the Mosaic Museum of Antakya.
91. Floor mosaic in the Mosaic Museum of Antakya.
92. Floor mosaic in the Mosaic Museum of Antakya.
93. Floor mosaic in the Mosaic Museum of Antakya.
94. Floor mosaic in the Mosaic Museum of Antakya.
95. Multiple mosaics in the Mosaic Museum of Antakya.
96. floor mosaic in the Mosaic Museum of Antakya.
97. two large mosaics in the Mosaic Museum of Antakya.
98. Large floor mosaic in the Mosaic Museum of Antakya.
99. floor mosaic in the Mosaic Museum of Antakya.
100. Mosaic in the Mosaic Museum of Antakya.