History of Hatay

Antakya or Hatay, as its official name is today, was founded in 300 BC as Antioch-ad-Orontes by Seleucos Nicator, one of Alexander's generals. Antakya grew quickly to become a city of half a million people and, under the Romans, became one of the main centers of the Christian faith. The city survived a massive earthquake in the 5th century killing 250,000 people. It was later fought over by Persians, Byzantines, Arabs, Armenians, Seljuks, Crusaders and Mamluks. The latter literally wiped out the city and it never regained its former glory. Antakya was part of the French protectorate of Syria until 1939, became independent as the Republic of Hatay for a short period and then joined the Republic of Turkey on 23 July 1939.

Hatay city is known to be one of the most interesting and culturally diverse cities in southern Turkey. With its mixture of Arab and Turkish speaking people, as well a Christian minority, the city offers an ethnic charm that is very endearing. The French years have left behind as a legacy beautiful boulevards, and the city seems to have its own architectural style. The ancient Orontes River (Asi River) divides the city in half, while making the region extremely fertile.