Daphne (Harbiye), Antakya

Last Updated on August 30, 2022

Harbiye, 7.5 km (4.7 miles) south of Antakya, is perched on a steep forested hillside looking toward the Mediterranean.

It has an eventful history.

In Roman times it was called Daphne ("laurel"). Mythology says it was the place where a horny Zeus, pursuing the nymph Daphne, finally caught her and turned her into a laurel tree.

Seleucus I built a temple to Daphne here, among the laurels.

Daphne, Antakya, Turkey

To the Romans, Daphne was a place of resort for the rich and powerful of Antioch-ad-Orontes (Antakya). They built sumptuous villas here with beautiful mosaics, some of which have survived and are now on display in the Hatay (Antakya) Archeology Museum.

Daphne, Antakya, Turkey
Convenient for duck-feeding...

Most of Harbiye/ Daphne is modern cityscape, but your reason for visiting is a steep forested valley with deep shade, numerous waterfallsand water courses, tea gardens and restaurants.

Tables and chairs are set by the water, or even right in the water.

In the blazing heat of August in this hot climate, the cool shade and rushing waters of Daphne (defne in Turkish) are a vision of heaven.

Not too far from the valley, perched at the edge of a cliff, several elaborate restaurants with fine views welcome diners for more refined meals than the simple establishments in the valley can provide.

—by Tom Brosnahan

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