Monday, April 18, 2011

Antioch Trip


On Sunday, we took a Base tour to Antioch. While Adana and Incirlik are not on this map, we are actually up by Tarsus. So picture us there. You can see how very close we are to Syria from this map. We are actually not allowed to travel anywhere East of Turkey. Antioch is an exception -- if we go with a tour.

All photos, as usual, courtesy of Veronica. Founded near the end of the 4th century BC by Seleucus I Nicator, one of Alexander the Great's generals, Antioch eventually rivaledAlexandria as the chief city of the Near East and was a cradle of Gentile Christianity. It was one of the four cities of the Syrian tetrapolis. Its residents are known as Antiochenes. Once a great metropolis of a half million people, it declined to insignificance during the Middle Ages because of repeated earthquakes, the slaughter of its inhabitants by a Mameluk army in 1268, and a change in trade routes, following the Mongol conquests, which then no longer passed through Antioch from the far east. (Ref)

A self portrait -- necessary to prove that she was actually there!

We left around 7am. It took about 2.5 hours to reach Antioch. First stop was a Mosaic Museum. The Hatay Archaeological Museum or Antakya Archaeological Museum's collections include most of the Roman mosaics from ancient Antioch that were discovered in 1932-39, and is thus sometimes known as the Antakya Mosaic Museum. These mosaics date into the 400's AD.

Amazing mosaics.

No surprise that the boys were more interested in the "things" at the museum -- not the art itself. A chain roping off a mosaic on the floor was great fun!

After that, it was off to Saint Peter's Church -- a natural cave on the western slope of Mt. Staurin. Christian tradition regards it as one of the earliest places where the first Christians of this city met and prayed secretly. The tunnel, which once opened to the other side, is thought to have served as an escape route in the direction of the mountain. The boys thoroughly enjoyed climbing in the cave but even more so, they enjoyed "climbing the mountain" as Isaac calls it, outside. Isaac is a FANTASTIC climber, and while I waited on the bottom, JB informed me that he was actually having to really hustle to keep up with our oldest son.

A view from inside the church. To see what the church looks like from the outside click here. This cave is one of Christianity's oldest churches.

The founding of the church in Antioch can be traced to the Bible's Acts of the Apostles (Acts 11:25-27). It is here that converts were called Christians for the first time in history. The oldest surviving parts of the church building date from at least the 4th or 5th century AD.

After visiting the church, we ate lunch, and then did some touring in the downtown area before heading home. The boys were incredibly well-behaved and had a wonderful day. As did we!

1 comment:

foreignperspective said...

I wish you guys could have gone to the antakya castle up on the hill above St Peter's church. the view is amazing, and it's one of the best hiking trails I've experienced in Turkey.