With Antioch as capital, the region of Hatay is full of history that dates back to the Bronze Age. On the 2nd of September 1938, Hatay State was established and the name of the state, coined by Atatürk as a reference to Hittites, was accepted as “Hatay”. The Hatay Parliament held its last meeting on the 29th of June 1939 and decided unanimously to join Turkey.
1- Have breakfast. Once in Hatay, you will have to eat this breakfast consisting of a lot of cheese, some variety of olives and appetisers [selection of small dishes, ed.], generally served cold.
2- Go to Samandağ. The city of Samandağ is ethnically constituted in its majority by Arabs, along with being a region where the Arabs, Armenians and Turkmen live together. There are various different religious groups such as Sunnis, Christian Orthodox, Christian Catholics and Gregorians, especially Arab Alawite. Its beach is regarded as the tenth longest beach in the world. It is in the first place in Turkey, with a length of 14 kilometres.
3- Join international festivals. Hatay is making strong steps towards becoming one of the capitals of peace, tranquillity and tolerance. It is a small city and it is trying to improve itself because it is still not recognised. It is always open to foreign languages, cultures and people when it comes to tolerance. These events will be organised by Hatay municipality, and they include entertainment, music and food, as well as the promotion of some of the districts. Some of them are the Traditional Spring Festival on the 9th of July, the Traditional Culture Festival from the 15th to the 21st of August and the Art Festival on the 25th and 26th of August.
4- Go to Historical Iskenderun. The city was founded as Alexandria (Iskender) and named after Alexander the Great. In Indiana Jones: The Last Adventure, the city of Iskenderun was also quoted in some parts of the film.
5- Eat Kunefe. The pastry is heated in butter, margarine, palm oil, or traditionally semneh [salted fermented butter, ed.], then spread with soft white cheese, such as Nabulsi cheese, and topped with more pastry.
6- Visit Church of Saint Peter. This cave, which was used by the first Christians in Antakya for secret meetings, is regarded as one of the oldest churches of Christianity.
7- See Harbiye Waterfall. According to the legend Apollo, who is the God of the Sun and son of Zeus, fell in love with Daphne, who was a young and beautiful girl, even though she did not fell in love with him. Apollo, then, chased Daphne, who was always trying to escape from him. It was impossible to escape from him since he is a god. Therefore, Daphne begged the Gods of the ground to cover and hide her. She was immediately turned into a tree, and it is believed that Daphne’s tears formed the waterfalls in Harbiye district.
8- Eat Doner. You have to eat this traditional roll shaped meal that everyone must have eaten once in their life. Of course, accompanied with a delicious spicy sauce.
9- Go to the Archaeology Museum. It presents a rich collection of mosaics dating back to the Hellenic and Roman era in the 2nd and 3rd centuries BC. They have been found in the ancient cities of Daphne, Seleucia Pieria (Samandağ), Antioch(Antakya) and Tarsus.
10- Eat Haytalı. It is a unique dessert from Antakya, served with milk, corn starch and sugar pudding.
Written by Firdevs Çazım, AEGEE-Hatay
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