Built on the site of ancient Antiocheia ad Orontem, Antakya, officially known as Hatay, is a prosperous and modern city near the Syrian border. Under the Romans, Antioch's important Christian community developed out of the already large Jewish population that was at one time led by St Paul. Today Antakya is home to a mixture of faiths – Sunni, Alevi and Orthodox Christian – and has a cosmopolitan and civilised air. Locals call their hometown Bariş Şehri (City of Peace), and that's just what it is. In the ecumenical city of Antakya you'll find at least five different religions and sects represented within a couple of blocks of one another.
The Arab influence permeates local life, food and language; indeed, the city only became part of Turkey in 1939 after centuries conjoined in some form or another to Syria. Most visitors come to Antakya for its archaeology museum or as pilgrims to the Church of St Peter. Be sure to take time to stroll along the Orontes (Asi) River and through the bazaars and back lanes of a city we rate as an underrated jewel of the Turkish Mediterranean.