Antioch (Antakya)


Antakya is a large but average-looking city in southeast Turkey, just 12 miles from the Syrian border. A modern visitor to Antakya would not likely think the city has any great significance, but beneath his feet lie the silent remains of Antioch-on-the-Orontes, the city once called "the fair crown of the Orient."


Antioch was a city of great religious importance. It was the home of several Roman temples and its suburb, Daphne, was held to be the very place where Daphne was turned into a laurel tree to escape the affections of Apollo. Antioch had also been the home of a large Jewish community since the city's founding in 300 BC. Antioch played an especially important role in Christian history: it was the base for Paul's missionary journeys, where Jesus’ followers were first called "Christians" (Acts 11:26) and where the Gospel of Matthew was probably written. Antioch hosted a number of church councils, developed its own characteristic school of biblical interpretation, and produced such influential Christian figures as the martyr-bishop Ignatius of Antioch, the pillar-saint Simeon and the "golden-mouthed" preacher John Chrysostom.[More Info]