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Ancient Antioch and capital of Hatay province, Turkey.

Antakya (Antioch in English) was the capital of Hellenistic and Roman Syria and remained an important commercial, cultural, manufacturing, political, and religious center for more than a thousand years, until it was looted and destroyed by Mamluk armies in 1268. The city never recovered from this devastation, although after it was incorporated into the Ottoman Empire in 1517 it reemerged as an important regional trade center. French forces occupied Antakya in 1918 and subsequently incorporated it as part of the French mandate of Syria on the grounds that its population was largely Arab Christian and Armenian rather than Turkish. The Republic of Turkey contested this action, and for several years the status of Antakya and nearby Alexandretta was a source of tension in Franco-Turkish relations. In 1939, France, against the wishes of Syrian nationalist politicians in Damascus, ceded Antakya back to Turkey, a move that prompted most of the city's Armenian population to depart.

Antakya has grown rapidly since 1950 and is a prosperous commercial center for Turkey's southernmost province of Hatay. It has a well-known archaeological museum and the extensive ruins of its ancient walls, as well as its old churches, are important tourist attractions. In 2000, the city's population of approximately 175,000 was diverse, both ethnically (Arabs, Kurds, and Turks) and religiously (Alevis, Christians, and Sunni Muslims).

see also alexandretta.


Sansal, Burak. "Hatay (Antioch)." Available from <>.

Eric Hooglund

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Antakya (formerly Antioch, now also Hatay) City in s Turkey on the River Orontes; capital of Hatay province. Founded in c.300 bc by Seleucus I, it was taken for Rome by Pompey (64 bc), and earned the title ‘Queen of the east’. Saint Paul preached here, and the city was a centre of early Christianity. Part of the Ottoman Empire from 1516 to 1919, it passed from Syrian to Turkish control. in 1939. Products include olives, tobacco, cotton, and cereals. Pop. (1994) 137,200.

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