History and religious culture combine at St. Pierre Church in Antakya, a growing destination for faith-based tourism
Since it opened in 2019, The Museum Hotel Antakya in south-east Turkey, has offered guests a unique blend of ancient and modern. Important archaeological excavations revealing 2,000 years of history include the largest single-floor Roman mosaic uncovered, visible below striking open-air walkways, canopies, and glass panels. Guests can see the past and the present from all over the 200-room hotel.
Adding to the area’s rich history, the hotel, which floats above the foundations of the ancient city of Antioch, overlooks one of the oldest and most atmospheric churches in the world. Carved into the rocks at the base of Mount Starius, the 13-metre cave-like St Pierre Church with a vaulted ceiling, is said to be where the early Christian congregation was created by St Peter as he preached and began to spread Christianity after the crucifixion of Jesus.
Turned into a church after the Romans adopted Christianity and declared sacred by the Vatican in 1963, the church has since become an important pilgrimage site for Christians. Every year on 29 June, on the anniversary of St. Peter’s death, a special ceremony is held here as growing numbers of pilgrims and tourists visit the church, now a museum. Mirroring the archaeological riches found in The Museum Hotel Antakya, on the floor of the church, visitors can admire the remains of mosaics dating from the 5th century and ancient frescos on walls.
On 29 June, a special service will be held as St. Peter’s Day is celebrated in the famous church now on UNESCO’s Tentative World Heritage List in a town home to various ethnic and religious groups. The Museum Hotel Antakya’s concierge can arrange tours of the religious sites in the area including the St Pierre Church, the Moses Tree, the Habibi Neccar Mosque, the oldest mosque in Turkey and the Antakya Synagogue, which serves the remaining Jewish community of ancient Antioch, near Antakya.
Guests can then relax at the five-star The Museum Hotel Antakya, among 185 bedrooms, 15 suites and the four-bedroom Nas Konut residence, decorated in serene natural textures and colours, with marble bathrooms and locally made furnishings. Five restaurants and bars serving tantalising dishes made from local ingredients using ancient and modern techniques, as befits its location in a city awarded UNESCO Creative City of Gastronomy. The hotel has the city’s largest spa, wellbeing, and fitness hub, the 3,300m2 rooftop Balans Spa & Fitness, with state-of-the-art fitness suite and studio for classes, indoor and outdoor pools, hammams and special treatment rooms. Event and conference spaces include a state-of-the-art ballroom and four rooftop meeting rooms.
Double rooms at The Museum Hotel Antakya start at €180 B&B,
Guests should check their government’s travel advice for current regulations before travelling to Turkey.