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Syria

city of Aleppo, you can use the city as a transportation hub if and when the civil war in Syria is over. Antakya was the jumping off point of most overland travellers into the Middle East before the conflict.

242km

Sights

Hatay Archaeology Museum

Also known as the Mosaics Museum (Mozaik Müzesi), the local archaeological museum has the second largest collection of classical/Roman mosaics in the world. The museum also features a good coin collection, artifacts from the Iron and Bronze Ages found in sites nearby and a very impressive sarcophagus with great reliefs. You can check many items from the collection through the official website of the museum.

Church of Saint Peter

One of the oldest churches of Christianity, Church of St. Peter, is a must-see in Antakya.

Vespasianus Titus Tunnel

The Titus Tunnel is a Roman engineering marvel. During the reign of Emperor Vespasian (69-79 AD), the Roman governors of Seleucia Pieria (Samandag), the port city for Antioch ad Orontes (Antakya), decided to divert a river. They put Roman legionnaires, sailors and prisoners to work cutting a channel along and through the rock for about 1.4 km (nearly a mile). Continued under Emperor Titus (79-81), inscriptions tell us it was completed during the reigns of the Antonine emperors decades later. Today the channel is dry, but still worth a visit. A small parking area and entrance is just inland from the beach at Samandag. A path ascends along the channel, open to the sky, up and down steps and rocks, to where an arched limestone footbridge crosses. Above the footbridge, the channel continues into the solid rock. You'll need a powerful flashlight/torch to continue.

Hatay Archaeological Museum

Someday

guide to

Antakya

Antakya, also known as Antioch, or more specifically Antioch-on-the-Orontes, is the capital of Hatay Province, which was annexed by Turkey after almost two decades of French rule in 1939.

Arriving

By air

Domestic flights are available to the Hatay Airport, 25 km north from the city center. However, the nearest international airport is located in Adana, a couple of hundred kilometres to the north. The 'Havas' bus runs from the airport hourly to the city centre for 9 TL, and takes around 20–30 minutes. If you need to get back to the airport, the Havas leaves from the front of the 'Buyuk Antakya Hotel' (on the river, close to the Mosaic Museum; it is a huge resort style hotel, you can't miss it) every half hour most days, but check the Havas website for specific departure times. This is a lot cheaper than a taxi! You will have to flag the Havas bus down from the front of the hotel, as not many people use this service, so make your presence known as it drives past.

You can also use dolmuş taxis in order to get to the city center. Many dolmuş taxis wait just in front of the airport and as soon as any four customers are gathered, the taxi heads towards the city. The taxis charge approximately 10 TL per person. All in all, if you accept to share the taxi with other passengers, taking a cab is TL Havaş as the taxi drops you off in whichever part of the city you want to get out while Havaş only stops at specific points.

By train

The nearest station is in Iskenderun, which has several daily train connections with Adana and Mersin.

By bus

Has Turizm operates comfortable buses from all major cities in Turkey. There are also bus connections with Aleppo, Syria.

The bus station (otogar) is located about 7 km northwest from the city center. Once you arrive look for minibuses to take you within walking distance of the center. Many of the hotels are located on Istiklal street.

To get from Antakya to Aleppo in Syria, the best option is to catch a bus from the central bus station (otogar) outside of town. It's too far to walk there, but there are bus connections from the town centre. The journey to Aleppo should cost you 10 TL (2009). The last bus (during Ramadan) leaves at 11:00 in the morning! This might be different outside of Ramadan, though. You can also try to catch a taxi from the town centre, which can be fairly difficult, as you normally have to wait until there are enough people sharing the taxi. The journey should cost you around 25 TL each if the taxi gets full. If you don't want to wait, you can pay for the whole taxi and depart immediately, which is going to be about 100-120 TL.

It is possible to cross the border step by step. You catch a bus to the Turkish border control, hitchhike to the Syrian border (which is about 5 km away, and you are not allowed to walk) and then take a taxi from there to Aleppo. You should be prepared for an extremely time-consuming trip. There's no other possibility to get from the Turkish border control to the Syrian one than waiting for a car to hitchhike. This can take some hours. At the Syrian border neither buses nor taxis are to be found, so you will have to hitchhike again. Most people will charge you for hitchhiking, and normally they will try to rip you off. Speaking Turkish and/or Arabic will certainly help, but if you don't, this trip is going to be really difficult. Apart from that it's more expensive than the direct bus.

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