Sunday, 5 July 2015

Antakya - Istanbul

4 July 2015: Antakya, Day 3 - The group left Antakya for the Samandag region, famous for the monastery of St Symeon the Younger. This is a sixth-century foundation modelled after the shrine of Symeon the Elder at Qal'at Sem'an in modern-day Syria. It was home to a stylite saint, who was venerated long after his death and after whom Port St Symeon and Samandag (= Symeon's mountain) were named. The monastic site affords a majestic view of the Orontes Valley and the Mediterranean. Like the rest of this region, it is extremely windy, hence why it is currently surrounded by dozens of windmills for the production of electricity.

Above: The base of the patron saint's column at the monastery of St Symeon the Younger.

Right: A modern stylite.

Next, the programme participants visited Al-Mina (= the port), the Hellenistic and Roman port of Antioch, as well as the nearby tunnel commissioned by Emperors Vespasian and Titus (1st century AD), which conducted water from the mountains towards the harbour.

Flowing through Titus' tunnel.

Before paying a visit to the site of Port St Symeon, the group made a quick stop near the Orontes delta. At the site itself, nothing is to be seen today, since the whole area is planted with orchards. This is where production of the homonymous ceramic ware was first attested.

Near the delta of the Orontes.

A most unexpected discovery: Port St Symeon ware  found at Port St Symeon!
Keen to document this unexpected find. 
5 July 2015: Istanbul (Final day) - A substantial part of the day was taken up by the trip back to Istanbul, whence participants were to board their flights back home. The highlight of the day was the stroll through the Genoese quarter of Pera (fourteenth-early fifteenth centuries), starting from the Galata Tower, which dominates the skyline of the northern shore of the Golden Horn. Heading towards Arap Camii, the former Dominican church, the group saw a series of Genoese warehouses, as well as part of the walls. These structures, just like the friars' church itself, have been much altered in subsequent centuries. 

Peeking into a Genoese warehouse at Pera.
The luxurious farewell dinner was given at a restaurant commanding a sweeping view of the Sarayburnu, with Hagia Sophia and the Topkapi Palace in the distance. The festivities concluded with homemade pomegranate liqueur and fig raki from Antakya.

Visibly tanned after many a "fifteen-minute" scrambles, the programme participants enjoy a well-deserved farewell dinner. 

A last drink before the journey back home.

No comments:

Post a Comment