On a whim, I had decided to visit a couple of places in southeastern Turkey and started with Antakya, the site of the ancient city of Antioch. The ancient city was much larger than the present one, and sat on the southern side of the Otontes river. In modern Turkey, the river is called the Asi and the city straddles it. The remains of the old city walls climb the steep slop of Mount Silpius.
I should say right now that there’s a list as long as your arm of things I didn’t do, but I was only in Antakya for one day so I’m just going to disregard them and concentrate on the things I did do.
I did try, and fail, to get up to the citadel. It wasn’t the height or steepness of the mountain that did for me. No, I’ve tackled bigger (much bigger) and steeper than this. It was simply the heat. It nearly did me in! I’m obviously made for chillier climes (and climbs). I did get to see some fairly hefty chunks of the city walls though, and the fabulous view of the city
There are several distinct bits of Roman and medieval construction still to be seen in Antakya, although most of the ancient city is now lost. These are the bits that I saw.
There’s this huge chunk of masonry, presumably part of the old city wall and possibly part of one of its gates.
There are the remains of the aqueduct built in the reign of Trajan.
There are the aforementioned sections of wall running up the mountain.
And then there’s the Iron Gate. I’m going to say nothing about the Iron Gate at the moment because there’s a whole story about my visit which will get a post of its own, but here’s a picture of it to whet your appetite.
The hills around here are also full of caves. Some probably natural, some clearly man-made, or some combination of the two. I’d assume that at least some (probably most) of these are old tombs, robbed out long ago, and some seem to have had a second life as animal pens.