Hatay (Antakya and İskenderun) is the gateway of Silk Road to the Mediterranean Sea. For thousands of years, Hatay has been on the trade routes and energy routes, and it is almost as the centre of the world at the intersection of Asia, Europe and Africa. Due to negative events, wars and diplomatic disagreements in the region, Hatay unfortunately could not come to the place it deserves in the world.
The history of Hatay is as old as the history of mankind. The settlement is more pronounced with the transition from hunting to agriculture.
With the development of agriculture in the region, cities and residential areas were formed and the first settlement began with the very civilized Turanian tribe of the Middle East. This settlement continued with Hittite (Etiler-Atalar), a Turanian tribe from central Asia. The fact that the sculpture of the last Hittite King Suppiluliuma was found in Hatay during the excavations is the biggest evidence. In the past, since the area is much wooded, buildings and settlements are usually made of wood. At the same time, because of being an extremely rich region, it has been subjected to external invasion, and as a result, there is little left to date as the cities made of wood.
After the death of the Alexander, Seleukos, (Silig-os: Silig means the name of the son of the Turkish Khan in the Orkhon Inscriptions, and the similar equivalent of this name in today’s Turkish is SELÇUK) whose mother is Turkish and who carries a Turkish name, founded the city of Antakya by taking over the empire. Later, the region entered into the sovereigns of Persia, Sassanid, Byzantine, Abbasid Tolunogulları, Aksits,
Hamdanogulları, Seljuk, Crusaders and Mamelukes. However, during the Egyptian cruise of Yavuz Sultan Selim, the region was captured by Ottoman Empire. Hatay, which declared independence in 1937, joined the Republic of Turkey in 1939. Hatay is one of the oldest settlements of not only Turkey, of the world. The excavations and surveys made in various places in the region indicate that this region is a widespread and lively settlement in the Neolithic, Chalcolithic and Bronze Age (11,000 – 4,000 years).
The ruins of the palace architecture seen in the settlements reveal that the settlements were organized in the form of principalities. Starting from the first Bronze Age, these principalities in the Amik Plain were under the sovereignty of the Akkadians, The Kingdom of Yamhad and the Hittites. The Kingdom of Hattena, founded in 1200s B.C., has disappeared after the reign of Assyria and Urartians. In the mid-7th century B.C., the Turkish epic hero Oguz Khan captured the Antakya, which the Turks called ‘the city of Batak’, and left the city after 18 years. In the 6th century B.C., Antakya and its environs paid taxes to the Persians within the border of the Cilician governorate of the Persian Empire. After 333 B.C., Antakya was captured by Alexander the Great. 1. Seleukos Nikator established the cities of Seleukeia (çevlik) and Antiokheia(Ana-ti-ok-ya= Antakya= Ana[Mother] Ti[God] Ok[big water, ocean]). Water, which is the symbol of civilization, was brought to the city by the canals of Defne (Harbiye) waterfalls. Thanks to its inner harbour and silver beds on the river which is the first in the world, the region has become a rich trade centre and Antakya, with the Olympics that started in 195 B.C., was renowned as holiday, pleasure and city of the Olympics.
Antakya, which joined the Roman Empire in 64 B.C., became the capital of the city of Syria. Christianity, which emerged in the first half of the 1st century A.D., spread to Antakya for the first time outside of Jerusalem. For the first time Christian name given, in Antakya, to the believers of Jesus Christ. Antakya was the third largest city of the Roman Empire with its high and solid walls. Rich in material and cultural aspects in Antakya, there were many works of art, monuments, temples, theatres, hippodromes, agora, baths, churches (first cave church- St. Pierre), wide and regular streets. Stone mosaics made of thousands of colours collected from the mountains adorn the floors and interior walls of the houses of the rich. The Roman Empire was divided into two in 395. Antakya, which remained within the borders of East Rome (Byzantine), was conquered by the Islamic army in 638 and entered into the sovereignty of Umayyads, Abbasids, Tolunoğulları and İhşitler respectively. Antakya, which surrendered to Byzantium again in 969, moved between the Principality of the Crusaders and the Islamic Principalities in this period. With the arrival of the Mamelukes in 1268, the Crusader Principality, which lasted 171 years in Antakya, ended. After this date, it was seen that Turkmens settled in the region. When Yavuz Sultan Selim conquered Aleppo in 1516, Antakya came under the domination of the Ottoman Empire.
Zoning activities were carried out by placing many soldiers and outposts. The walls were repaired and many buildings such as mosques, khans, baths, arasta (Ottoman bazaar), imaret, pier, shipyard, bedesten(covered bazaar) and mill built, and many of these structures that have survived until today. With the establishment of the guild, Antakya gained a lively bazaar. In this bazaar each street dedicated to a profession. İbrahim Pasha the son of Egyptian Governor Kavalalı Mehmet Ali Pasha conquered Syria in 1832. With the declaration of Tanzimat, changes and new regulations were made in the administrative structure of Antakya and its environs.
The Arabs, The British and their allies, who rebelled against the Ottoman Empire in World War I, worked against the Ottoman Empire. Although the Armistice of Mondros was signed on October 30, 1918, The Entente Powers occupied Antakya and its cities in violation of the treaty provision. The first armed conflict between the occupant and the local people took place in Dörtyol.
The first bullet of the national struggle was fired on 19 December 1918 in Dörtyol. The gangs established around Antakya, Altınözü and Yayladağı, which were under the occupation of the Entente Powers, clashed with the invaders, while the Turkish Army was fighting the Greeks in the west. With the treaty signed with the Entente Powers, Hatay was given special status and the Turks were given cultural rights under a special administration. When the Entente Powers disobeyed the Treaty of Ankara and gave İskenderun to Syria, Atatürk called this region HATAY because it was at least 10,000 years old Turkish homeland, and he raised the “Issue of Hatay” at League of Nations.With the effort of Atatürk, who said “Hatay is my personal affair” and “40 centuries old Turkish homeland cannot be held in the hands of the enemy”, the election in this region were made and the Hatay State was established. Hatay State quickly organized and strengthened its ties with Turkey. On June 29, 1939 Hatay State terminated itself in its last National Assembly and decided to join Turkey. On July 23, 1939, the Turkish flag raised in Antakya barracks, and a handover ceremony was held, Hatay joined Turkey.