Iskenderun - Turkey
Iskenderun (formerly Alexandretta) is an industrialised port city on the coast of the piece of Turkey, known as The Hatay, that turns the corner of the Mediterranean facing the sea eastwards and extending westwards into Syria. Once the chief port for Aleppo and northern Syria, the city is the trade centre of a region. It is also a resort, and is situated near the site of Alexandria ad Issum, founded by Alexander the Great in 333 BC near the head of the Syrian Gates (now the Beylan Pass). The city has a wide promenade and a stunning setting under the Amanus mountains but its sites of interest are limited to three churches. For good beaches you need to go southwest to the resort of Ulucinar, while southeast will take you to the small hill town of Belen and through the Beylan Pass to the imposing medieval castle at Bakras Kalesi rebuilt by the Knights Templar. To the south is AntakyaAntakya, the ancient city of Antioch. To the north you can visit the Karatepe Arslantas National Park, where there was thought to be a frontier castle and summer palace of the neo-Hittite King Astawanda, but little remains. The main attraction are the beautiful stone carvings around the entrance gate to the former palace depicting hunting, feasting and sacrificial scenes. Iskerundum was at one time a port for trade from Persia and India, and was under Turkish rule for six centuries. From 1920 to 1937 it was included in Syria (then under the French mandate) and for the next two years was part of the autonomous Sanjak (Province) of Alexandretta. Since 1939 it has been a Turkish city when The Hatay voted to become part of Turkey.