Iskenderun / Alexandretta

Iskenderun, where the beauty of nature and treasures history embrace each other, is one of Turkeys most wonderful vacation spots. The city lies on a plain between the Amanos Mountains and the blue waters of the Mediterranean. It was founded by Alexander The Great and called Alexandretta after his victory over the Persian Emperor Darius III. Near the city of ISSOS in 333 B. C. The remains of a Phoenician city called Myriandus existed here in ancient times. The city came successively under the domination of the Seleukos, the Byzantines, the Arabs and finally the Ottomans.
Today, the city is one of the most important arts, education, culture, sports, tourism, industry and commercial center of Turkey.

The International Tourism and Cultural Festival is organized in the city by the Municipality of Iskendeun between the 5th and 9th of July every year. The Catholic cathedral, the Orthodox and the Karasun Manuk churches are enumerated among the most important churches in the city. The imposing monument of Ataturk near the seafront is the other work of art worth mentioning in the city center.
The highway coming to Iskenderun both from the direction of Syria and Adana is in very good condition. The city has no difficulties on transportation. Hatay is the nearest airport to Iskenderun. It is 45 km. away and can be reached within one hour by highway.

The Naval Museum and the Cultural Site Directorate is the first and only, Turkey’s third naval museum. The museum has been built as a three store house in 1930, then bought by the Navy and was Iskenderun Naval Base Command Headgwarters till 1996. Restored in 2008, the seven roomed building consists 320 objects and a library with 200 books on the history of the Hatay region and Iskenderun, also the Turkish Naval post. The museum is open every day (except Mondays and Tuesdays) in 09.00-17.00.
Ataturk Bulvari No : 1         Telephone: 613 14 25 (1599)

Arsuz (Rhosus) is situated 33 kms away and south of Iskenderun at the Mediterranean Sea. It is an old settlement and has gained its importance during the time of King Selevcos Nikator the founder of Selefkis. It has been called port panel during the middle Ages. The old harbours and the city remains are under water now. A Necropol antique road and mosaic ruins are still there. There are also the ruins of
the old harbour belonging to the Helenistic period.

It is in Payas, on the 13th kilometer on Iskenderun Antakya highway. It has been built by the orders of K. Sultan Suleyman in 1549. The inn has gone restoration recently and is now in use. There are some
festivities organised in this complex from time to time. It has a mosque and a bath in its premises.

Completed in 1574, complex was built upon orders of the famous grand vizier minister of the time Sokullu Mehmet Pasha by head architect Sinan and Royal Architects Department is a significant pier and accommodation center. The complex of buildings in its original form consisted of a mosque, a madrasah, a primary school, a shopping area, a prayer dome, an inn, private flats, a soup kitchen, a Turkish bath, two fountains, a bridge, toilet and service locations. In general, it is located over an area of four acres.

Bakras Castle is located in the 27th km. of the Iskenderun-Antakya highway on the foothills of Kızıldağ
Mountain. It is near the Bakras Village. It is inferred from the construction style of the foundation that the Castle was firstly built in the Hellenistic Period. The remnants also demonstrate the construction characteristics of Byzantine Period, it was the most important fortification of Crusaders in the north, it was on the route from Anatolia to Syria and Egypt. The Castle consists of barracks, dungeons and rooms lined up around the inner courtyard.

It is the region that Persian King Darius III. And Macedonian King Alexander the Great had fought for in 333 B. C. The site was established in Hellenistic period and also survived in Roman times. Today the remains of antique city and a lot of aqueducts still exist in the region.

It is estimated that the castle was originally built by the Genoese. It is a stone, rectangular castle by the sea. It has eight towers in good condition and there are cannons of various sorts each and tower. There are long-range cannons and the largest tower to protect the port. This place is like border since it is the pier of Aleppo. The wall of the castle is twofold, towers and castles are very solid. There are twofold iron gates at the side overlooking east, there is a wooden bridge over the trench. There are approximately 300 houses in the castle, a constable and 70 castle guards.

This building makes up the final large structure of the core settlement built to form an Ottoman city in Payas. The tower was built as a guard tower to protect and defend Payas against the enemy ships. The tower has a fascinating 3600 metres view over the port. Evliya Celebi has these to say about the tower that “Thepier tower is a round and solid tower over which castle guards patrol day and night, because the customs house is located here.”

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