Antiochian Greeks

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Antiochian Greeks

روم أنطاكيون
Antun Saadeh.jpg
Patriarch John X of Antioch 2.jpg
Ignatios IV.jpg
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Helen Thomas - USNWR.jpg
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Cyrine AbdelNour 66ème Festival de Venise (Mostra) 4.jpg
Elisa Sednaoui Deauville 2011.jpg
Total population
Estimated 2 million
Regions with significant populations
 Syria 545,250-1,000,000
 Lebanon 300,000-400,000[1][2][3]
 United States 74,527[4]
 Australia 37,500
 Turkey 18,000[5][6]
Levantine Arabic, Turkish language (in Turkey)

French, English, Spanish, Portuguese
Christianity (Antiochian Orthodoxy)

Antiochian Greeks, also known as Rûm, are ethnic Greek members of the Greek Orthodox Church of Antioch and Greek Catholic Christians, who have resided in Syria, Lebanon, and the Turkish province of Hatay, which includes the old city of Antioch or modern-day Antakya, and their descendants in the Middle East and the Americas.

The community has a long heritage that dates back to the establishment of Antioch in 323 BC by Seleucus I Nicator at the time of Alexander the Great's invasion of Asia. The majority of Antiochian Greeks are a mix of the earliest Macedonian settlers, Roman-era Greeks, Byzantine Greeks (Rûm), Hellenized Judeo-Christians and Syriacs. Some of those Aramaeans spoke Syriac and celebrated the liturgy in Old Syriac Aramaic. With Arabic becoming the lingua franca in the Levant today, the majority has become an Arabic-speaking Christian community, primarily speaking Levantine Arabic, although many also speak Greek and Turkish.


Historically, they were considered as a part of Rûm millet by the Ottoman authorities. The community had a notable tendency of immigration in early 20th century. As the Sanjak of Alexandretta was then a part of Syria, Greeks were not subject to population exchange of 1923. After Hatay State was annexed by Turkey in 1939, many emigrated to Syria and Lebanon. Following 1960s, a new wave of immigration has drawn Antiochian Greeks to Western countries.

Liturgical traditions and folklore[edit]

Antiochian Orthodox Cathedral, Brooklyn.

Some typically Greek Ancient Synagogal priestly rites and hymns that originated in Antioch have survived partially to the present in the distinct church services of the Melkite and Greek Orthodox communities of the Hatay Province of Southern Turkey, Syria, Lebanon and the Holy Land.

Population and ethnocultural heritage[edit]

In the narrowly defined geographic sense, according to a census conducted by the Patriarchate of Antioch in 1895, there were 50,000 Antiochian Greeks in the Alexandretta Sanjak(Hatay Province) of Southern Turkey, compared to about 30,000 in the 1930s.[7] In 1995, their total population was estimated at 10,000.[8]

But most members of the Greek Orthodox and Greek Catholic communities of Syria and Lebanon, commonly known as Northern-MENAMelkites” or “Rûms”, can trace their ethnocultural heritage to the Greek and Macedonian settlers and Hellenized Judeo-Christians of the past, founders of the original “Antiochian Greek” communities of Cilicia and Northwestern Syria.

Counting members of the minorities in the Hatay Province of Turkey and their relatives in the diaspora, there are more than 1.8 million Antiochite Greco-Melkite Christians residing in the Northern-MENA, the US, Canada and Latin America today.


A significant number of Antiochian Greeks in Turkey live in Istanbul. They are concentrated in İskenderun, Samandağ, and Altınözü in Hatay. There is also a community in Mersin. The highest concentrations of Antiochian Greeks still living in the Levant are found in Syria, Lebanon, and Turkey. In Syria, the Antiochians are mostly concentrated in Wadi al-Nasara (The Valley of the Christians), as well as the surrounding areas. Such as the cities of Mhardeh, Hama, and Homs. Smaller communities can also be found in Aleppo, Damascus, and Latakia. In Lebanon, most Antiochians can be found in the Nabatieh, Beqaa Governorate, and North Governorates. Specifically in the Koura District, Zahle, and Akkar. While those able to remain in Turkey are concentrated in the Hatay Province, although a significant number of Antiochian Greeks have migrated to Istanbul. A case of intercommunal violence with Muslims in Altınözü was reported in 2005. The events were allegedly sparked by sexual harassment of a Christian girl by a Muslim barber's apprentice.[9]

Notable Antiochian Greeks[edit]

Arabized Rum[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Minority Rights Group International - working to secure the rights of minorities and indigenous peoples". 
  2. ^ Lebanon – International Religious Freedom Report 2010 U.S. Department of State. Retrieved on 14 February 2010.
  3. ^ Lebanon - July-December, 2010 International Religious Freedom Report U.S. Department of State. Retrieved on 1 June 2012.
  4. ^ Krindatch, A. (2011). Atlas of american orthodox christian churches. (p. 44). Brookline,MA: Holy Cross Orthodox Press
  5. ^ The Greeks of Turkey, 1992-1995 Fact-sheet by Marios D. Dikaiakos
  6. ^ Christen in der islamischen Welt – Aus Politik und Zeitgeschichte (APuZ 26/2008)
  7. ^ Peter Alford Andrews, Ethnic Groups in the Republic of Turkey, Dr. Ludwig Reichert Verlag, 1989, ISBN 3-89500-297-6
  8. ^ The Greeks of Turkey, 1992-1995 Fact-sheet by Marios D. Dikaiakos
  9. ^ (Turkish) Taciz yüzünden cemaatler dövüştü