A Travellerspoint blog

Day 2

Gaziantep-Syrian Antioch-Adana

Second day in Turkey was short and sweet. It was a Wednesday. And both because of the amount of distance we had to travel, and because we needed time for our own Wednesday Evening Service before going to bed, our one and only holy site destination was the Cave Church of St. Peter in Antakya, or Syrian Antioch.

Yes, compared to yesterday, it was less packed, but the importance of Syrian Antioch cannot be stressed enough. The Bible states that this was where Christians were fist called...well, "Christians"! (Acts 11:26)

A quick history of this place is that it's believed to have been founded by St. Peter, one of the 12 apostles of Jesus. Whether this is true or not, Peter DID in fact preach in this area (Antioch) around 50AD. It became a major hub for Christians in those days and was also the base for Paul's earlier mission trips. Later on (as in about 1050yrs later), the Crusaders were in control of this area from 1098~1268 and created the stone facade of the church.

About a 3 hour drive from the hotel, we arrived at the Cave Church of St. Peter. (aka Sen Piyer Kilisesi in Turkish)

It's basically an adorned cave on the mountainside of Mt. Starius. And it is one of the oldest churches known.

The bus drove up the side of the mountain and parked. We walked up a short ramp to the gate of the church grounds. If you go as an individual, you will have to purchase a ticket.

(Also fyi, the bathroom and a very small museum store are located in the basement.) We gathered in the yard right outside the cave/church. This yard was used as a cemetery for hundreds of years.


At the moment the yard is gated. The cave also has 3 entrances, but only one side entrance is being used. This is quite understandable concerning that mosaics as old as 1500~1600 years are found in this cave. Despite being an unlit cave, the sunlight shining through from the outside brightened up the whole place.

Inside the cave, there is an altar against the back wall of the church. In that back wall, above the altar, you can see a small statue of St. Peter. And as you face the altar, on the right side, there is a small faucet. I saw this repeatedly in Turkey where the holy sites had running water. The water was used for drinking as well as baptism.


On the left side, there was a small entrance which seemed like a cave inside a cave (weird...i know). As I walked in, it turned out to be more like a small cove. However, there was a tiny tunnel leading upwards. Later I realized that the purpose of this tunnel was for escaping! Unfortunately, I didn't take any pictures of the tunnel. It was quite Shawshank-esque.

There's also an explanation framed inside the cave. (you can read by zooming in!)


. . . . . . .

So Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, and when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. For a whole year they met with the church and taught a great many people. And in Antioch the disciples were first called Christians. Now in the days prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch. Acts 11:25~27

Posted by tinamin82 01:25 Comments (0)

Day 0~1

Incheon Airport-Istanbul-Sanliurfa-Harran-Gaziantep

sunny 48 °C

Without knowing why, I always answered that my next travel destination would be Turkey.

After 12 years in the States, I recently moved to Korea about 4 months ago. It felt like I was trapped on this peninsula and would never be able to leave (I kid I kid). A pleasant surprise came when a good friend and pastor told our family that he was planning a 12 day long trip to Turkey's Holy Sites with a group of 40 people. After a bit of persuasion, my mom and I had booked a flight to Turkey. Honestly, it was the first time I was traveling with such a huge group of people. I didn't really know what to expect. But honestly, looking back, it turned out to be one of the best times of my life.

40 of us got on a late night flight (23:50) out of Incheon that landed us in Istanbul at 5:45am. We didn't really get to leave the airport and had to wait for the 9:40 am domestic flight to Sanliurfa.


From there, we got on a bus and went to Abraham's birth place aka The Great Mosque aka Balıklıgöl (Pool of Sacred Fish). There is a cave where legend says Abraham was born. And why the fish? Because there's another legend that says Abraham was thrown over fire by Nimrod and the fire turned to water and the logs into Fish. So there are these long man-made ponds filled with huge greyish koi's.



Afterwards, we got on the bus to Haran, where we first stopped by "Jacob's Well". In Jacob's time, they didn't have just one well, but a number of them. Honestly, I wouldn't be surprised if this wasn't even Jacob's personal well. However, it was fascinating to see what it must have been like during the Biblical times.


And afterwards, this wasn't in our original schedule, but our guide (by our pastor's request) lead us to the ruins of part of the walls of Anatolia (maybe one of the gates? Possibly?). This wasn't too far from Jacob's Well--maybe a 2 minute drive.


Who knew there was so much of Haran remaining? After the walls, we went to the Castle of Haran. Cities had a fortress and a castle for the governor or the king of the area. On this particular day, the temperature went all the way up to 48 Celsius!!! Can you imagine making bricks and building something like this in such weather??


From the Castle, we walked about 2~3 minutes to the Beehive houses. These are traditional houses of the area. Abraham and his family probably lived in structures similar to these!


Due to the design of these structures which have holes on the top, hot air rises up and leaves the house--making is super cool inside. (Even in the 48 degree weather!). They were also selling some local crafts and clothes inside.


They also had some sitting area and hookah.


And thaaat completes Day 1 and 2 of this trip.

FYI: Haran (Charan) is actually the Biblical name of this place. You'll have better luck searching "Harran" on google. Haran is where Abram's father Terah and Terah's grandsom and Abram's nephew Lot settled while en route to Canaan from Ur. It is also referred to as "Paddam Aram" or "Aram Naharaim".

Those of you who are familiar with the Bible will remember that Abraham asked his servant to go to his home for Isaac's wife. And therefore, his servant actually came to Haran. Which means that Isaac's wife--Rebekah was also from Haran.

Not only that, but after Jacob receives the blessing meant for the firstborn from Isaac, he flees from Esau's wrath to Rebekah's brother Laban. And where was Laban? Back in Haran of course.

So as you can see, the Bible has a very profound relation to this place! Today, it's quite close to the borders of Syria, making it one of the less visited Holy Sites of Turkey.

. . . . . . .

Terah took his son Abram, his grandson Lot son of Haran, and his daughter-in-law Sarai, the wife of his son Abram, and together they set out from Ur of the Chaldeans to go to Canaan. But when they came to Harran, they settled there. Genesis 11: 31

Terah lived 205 years, and he died in Harran. Genesis 11:32

So Abram went, as the LORD had told him; and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he set out from Harran. Genesis 12:4

He took his wife Sarai, his nephew Lot, all the possessions they had accumulated and the people they had acquired in Harran, and they set out for the land of Canaan, and they arrived there. Genesis 12:5

(Rebekah to Jacob) Now then, my son, do what I say: Flee at once to my brother Laban in Harran. Genesis 27:43

[ Jacob’s Dream at Bethel ] Jacob left Beersheba and set out for Harran. Genesis 28:10

Jacob asked the shepherds, “My brothers, where are you from?” “We’re from Harran,” they replied. Genesis 29:4

Posted by tinamin82 23:44 Archived in Turkey Tagged turkey bible harran abraham Comments (0)

(Entries 1 - 2 of 2) Page [1]