İskenderun: Wikis


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İskenderun is located in Turkey
Location of İskenderun within Turkey.
Coordinates: 36°34′54″N 36°09′54″E / 36.5817°N 36.1650°E / 36.5817; 36.1650Coordinates: 36°34′54″N 36°09′54″E / 36.5817°N 36.1650°E / 36.5817; 36.1650
Country  Turkey
Region Mediterranean
Province Hatay
Elevation 4 m (13 ft)
Population (2000)
 - City 300,000
 - Urban 215,000
Time zone EET (UTC+2)
 - Summer (DST) EEST (UTC+3)
Postal code 31
Area code(s) (0)326
Licence plate 31

İskenderun (formerly in Greek Ἀλεξανδρέττα, Alexandretta; in Arabic الإسكندرون, al-ʼIskandarūn), is a city and district in the province of Hatay on the Mediterranean coast of Turkey. The city is part of Çukurova, a geographical, economical and cultural region.



İskenderun is located on the Mediterranean coast on Gulf of İskenderun at the foot of the Nur Mountains (Amanos Mountains).

İskenderun is a busy commercial centre, the largest city in Hatay Province, surpassing the Hatay provincial seat of Antakya. The city is one of Turkey's largest ports on the Mediterranean and an important industrial centre home to the Russian-built İsdemir compound, one of Turkey's largest steelworks. İskenderun has an active, modern life with good hotels, restaurants and cafes along the palm-lined sea front, and there is a variety of accommodation for visitors. İskenderun is also an important naval training base. There is a small Suryani Christian community in the city.

The climate on this stretch of the Mediterranean is very hot and humid in summer, when people escape to the countryside or to the beach. At certain times of the year the town is swept by the strong wind called 'Yarıkkaya'. The countryside contains large areas of fruit groves, important producers of oranges, tangerines and lemons, and even tropical fruits such as mangoes.



Distinctive İskenderun dishes include Künefe, a hot dessert with cheese. The main dishes include the Turkish staples such as döner and other kebabs served in the flat dürüm bread, lahmacun, and also the Arab-Levantine cuisine of Antakya including kibbeh, and sour pomegranate syrup used as a salad dressing. İskenderun in particular offers good quality fish and prawns.



İskenderun preserves the name, but probably not the exact site, of Alexandria ad Issum (İskender being the Arabic rendering of Alexander). The settlement was founded by Alexander the Great in 333 BC to supersede Myriandrus as the key to the Syrian Gates, about 23 miles south of the scene of his victory at the Battle of Issus. The importance of the place ever since has derived from its relation to this pass, the easiest approach to the open ground of Hatay Province and of Northern Syria, and the Romans continued to fight with Persia for control of this area during their era of dominance.

Alexander camped at the high-lands of İskenderun, around Esentepe, and then ordered the city to be established and named "Alexandrette". İskenderun is one of many cities founded by Alexander's orders, including Alexandria.

Ottoman Era

The area was still a scene of fighting under the Ottomans, as it was here in 1606 that the army of general Kuyucu Murat Pasha suppressed the rural uprising of Celali Canbulatoğlu. The Ottomans continued to fortify the city and the remains of early 17th century Ottoman castle walls can still be seen, (where the Güzün stream crosses the Varyant road). The next army to cross the Pass of Belen and attack Anatolia through here were the Egyptians of Muhammad Ali in 1832.

However in the later Ottoman period the city grew and grew as the main outlet for the overland trade from Baghdad and India, which had great importance until the establishment of the Egyptian overland route. Iskenderun served as a base first of Genoese and Venetian merchants, then West and North European merchants. The British Levant Company maintained an agency and factory here for 200 years, until 1825, in spite of appalling mortality among its employees. During the 19th century the port grew, the railway was built in 1912, and the road to Aleppo was improved.

At the outset of World War 1 when Britain was contemplating the dismemberment of the Ottoman Empire, Lord Kitchener considered the conquest of Alexandretta to be essential in providing Britain with a port and railhead from which to access Iraq. He proposed a new railway from Alexandretta which would greatly reduce the time for reaching India from the UK. The de Bunsen Committee (8 April - 30 June 1915), a British inter-departmental group which was set up to discuss the issue in greater detail, preferred Haifa for this purpose. [1]

Republic of Hatay

Following the collapse of the Ottoman Empire at the end of the First World War most of Hatay including İskenderun was occupied by French troops and in 1921 was established as the autonomous Sanjak of Alexandretta within French-controlled Syria. This led to the foundation of the Republic of Hatay. In 1939, Republic of Hatay joined with the Republic of Turkey, after a referendum. See Hatay Province for a detailed history of this era.

France overprinted Syrian postage stamps and issued them in 1938; this 4-piastre value was used sometime in 1939.

Main sights

  • Arsuz (Uluçınar), holiday town on the coast to the south of İskenderun, with beautiful sandy beaches, a very warm sea, and places of historical interest. The coast is lined with holiday homes and there is accommodation in hotels or guest houses.
  • The Cathedral of the Annunciation is the seat of the Roman Catholic Apostolic Vicariate of Anatolia.
  • Soğukoluk, mountain resort on the way to Antakya a quiet retreat from the heat of the coast in summer months.
  • Bakras - The castle was built in antiquity and much restored since, a watchtower on the mountain road, 27 km (17 mi) from İskenderun on the road to Antakya.
  • Yakacik (Payas) - contains a splendid example of Ottoman architecture dating back to the 16th century; the Sokollu Mehmet Pasha Complex comprising a mosque, bath, bazaar, caravanserai, and madrasa. 22 km from Iskenderun on the road to Adana.

Cultural references

  • In the film Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Jones claims the Holy Grail is in the "canyon of the crescent moon" outside of Alexandretta. Indiana explains that Alexandretta was completely demolished by the end of the first crusades and that the city is now known as Iskenderun, even though that name is simply Alexandretta in Arabic. In the movie, the Nazis offer the sultan of Hatay precious valuables to compensate for removing the Grail from his borders. He ignores the valuables, but accepts their Rolls-Royce Phantom II. Following that, we see the Jones boys head from Berlin to İskenderun where they find the Holy Grail. However the canyon and the El Deir Temple in which they find the Grail was filmed in Petra, Jordan.
  • The progressive metal group Andromeda released the song "İskenderun" on their album Chimera.

See also


  1. ^ A Peace to End all Peace, David Fromkin, 1989 page 149

External links

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010
(Redirected to Iskenderun article)

From Wikitravel

İskenderun, also known as Alexandretta, is a city in Hatay Province, Mediterranean Turkey. It’s located on the coast of Mediterranean Sea.


This is one of the few still-existing cities in the world which was founded by, and indeed gets its name from Alexander the Great (who is known as Büyük İskender in Turkish), with Alexandria in Egypt being the other notable example. İskenderun today has a population of about 300,000 people and is an industrialized city, surrounded by petrochemical plants and steelworks, although the city centre is still enjoyable with its lovely palm-lined promenade on the shore of the sea.

Get in

by air

Nearest airport for international flights is located in Adana to the north. For domestic flights, Hatay Airport located in the outskirts of Antakya to the south (45 min. driving) is another possibility alongside Adana Airport.

by train

There is a train station in the city, normally with many daily services from/to Adana and Mersin. However, as of August 2009, there is a renovation work on the railway leading to Iskenderun, so all train service to the city is temporarily suspended.

by car

The city is connected to the rest of Turkey by the motorway numbered O-53 (toll-road). The southward road towards Antakya and Syria is also well-paved but windy when crossing the mountain range inbetween.


The telephone code of İskenderun is 326 (dial +90 326 when calling from out of Turkey).

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