One can start by recalling the words of Ammianus Marcellinus, an almost ancient Roman historian, who described Hatay as a ‘town with lands that are unrivaled in terms of fertility, and trade that is unrivaled in terms of its opportunities and riches.’ One may choose not to trust his words, but it is a fact that he knows the town of Hatay by heart as lived here between the years AD 322-400. The town was named as Treasure of the East or ‘Orientis Apicem Putcrum’ in ancient times. Today it is simply called ‘Hatay’. The heart of the city is Antioch, which is one of the most cosmopolitan towns in Turkey.
It has always been a pot of civilizations. One can witness the traces of 13 different civilizations in the region. Besides, traces of a Paleolithic history (40,000-11,000 BC) can also be felt and seen. Following an Egyptian rule that lasted until BC 17th century, the region was under the rule of Hittites, Assyrians, Babylonian Empire, Persians and Macedonians. Antioch is the most respected cultural and political centers of the East, it also hosted a synthesis of East-West cultures in the Hellenistic period (330-30 BC) which began with the conquest by Alexander the Great. The town was founded by Seleucid King Seleucus I Nicator (the conqueror between 306-281 BC), a general loyal to Alexander the Great, in 22 Artemisios (May) 300 BC.
Thanks to its wealth, welfare, intellectual structure and institutions, Antioch was the center of Eastern regions of the Roman Empire during 1st century BC and 6th century AD during the Roman period. In the year 638 Arabs conquered the town when it was one of the biggest towns in the world -the 3rd biggest Roman town, and the 4th biggest globally.
Seljuk Emperor Alp Arslan laid a siege after his victory in the Battle of Manzikert in 1071 against the Byzantine Empire. Then siege was lifted. Mameluk Sultan Baybars laid another siege in 1268. This push ended the Christian rule in the region.
The most important strategic point connecting Anatolia to Palestine and Syria, and Mesopotamia to the Eastern Mediterranean was left on its own during Ottoman times due to its distance to Istanbul.
It remained as a district of Aleppo region until the end of the WWI.