Antioch was third largest city of Romans after Rome and Alexandria.It was first founded as a capital town by Antigonus, one of four generals of Alexander the Great.But after Antigonus was defeated by Selecus I Nicator,he re-established the city in May 300 BC and named after his father.

Located strategically at the crossroads of several major routes,its population reached over 250,000. Its population density around AD 100 was approximately 75,000 inhabitants per square mile or 117 per acre.( New York City has a population density of 27,400 people per square mile).

Antioch was the centre of the Seleucid kingdom until 64 BCE, when it was annexed by Rome and was made the capital of the Roman province of Syria. The city was the headquarters of the Roman garrison in Syria, one of whose principal duties was the defense of the empire’s eastern border from Persian attacks. 

In 40-39 BC Parthians occupied Antioch,but Antony soon reestablished the control.(Antony and Cleopatra were probably married in nearby Daphne in 37-36 BC).

Among the people that Seleucus I settled in Antioch were Jews.The king granted the Jews their own political autonomy within the Greek community such as having their own judges decide cases according to their own law.But during the reign of Antiochus IV (175-163 BC) the Jewish community experienced great difficulty.He forbade circumcision,confiscated Torah scrolls and forcibly sought to hellenize the Jewish of eastern Mediterrenean.In 169 BC he attacked Jerusalem temple,cariied its sacred treasures to Antioch and rededicated the temple to Olympian Zeus.He sacrificed a pig on the altar,thus committing the abomination of deselotion (Daniel 9:27 , 11:31).

Antioch was  one of the earliest centres of Christianity; it was there that the followers of Christ were first called Christians, and the city was the headquarters of the missionary St. Paul about 47–55 CE.

Visit St Peter’s Grotto which is a cave church located on Mt. Staurus (‘Cross’ , Hac dagi).Every year June 29 – the feast day of Peter—special service is heldat St Peter’s Grotto.

Antioch Museum must be in your itinerary! It contains one of the best collections of mosaics in the world mostly from 2-3 C AD.