It has been an emotional day, as we made it to my hometown Antioch, where my parents are from and where I spent many happy holidays at my grandmother 450 years old house. It is the place where my cooking was inspired, the place we all turn to for many special times to spend together. It is a land of peace and tolerance as for centuries Christians, Muslims and Jews has been living peacefully in this wonderful city. And after 10 years, it feels wonderful to be back the roots. Below is photo from my grandmother’s old house with beautiful stone carvings; it is a comfort to know that it will be restorated to preserve all the history behind.
Antioch is an ancient city, dating back to 300 BC. In 7th century, Antioch was one of five patriarchal centres of the Christian church, the others being Rome, Alexandria, Istanbul and Rome.
And here we are in Samandagi,the ancient port city Seleucia Pieria (300 BC), walking along its famous tunnel of Titus (a covered channel of 1,300m long). There are rock tombs carved into the limestone cliffs by the side, dating back to Roman period, fascinating.
And as wonderful is seeing the lovely eggplant (aubergine) plantations, pomegranate and olive trees right by the rock tombs and the channel! What a bountiful region.
And a local lady selling the daphne soap, made from the daphne berries (with bay leaves), a speciality from the region – we all got our fair share!-
No visit to Antioch is complete without visiting the Church of St Peter, where it is believed that Apostle Peter preached when he visited Antioch and considered to be one of the earliest Christian house of worship.
Friendly children at the entrance of St Peter’s Grotto – and the modern city at the background-; they were curious about where we came from and very helpful:)
Last but not least, some wonderful examples of hand painted Turkish pottery and some good reading to share by our famous author Orhan Pamuk and Louis de Bernieres, author of the historical novel “Birds without wings”. Set at the backdrops of the collapsing Ottoman Empire, it is a novel about personal and political costs of war, as well as love between man and women, between friends of the collapsing empire. I look forward to reading it.
Hope you enjoy strolling through my hometown; more to come on the wonderful cuisine of Antioch:)