Coordinates: 36°34′54″N 36°09′54″E / 36.5817°N 36.1650°E / 36.5817; 36.1650
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Official logo of İskenderun
Map showing İskenderun District in Hatay Province
Map showing İskenderun District in Hatay Province
İskenderun is located in Turkey
Location in Turkey
Coordinates: 36°34′54″N 36°09′54″E / 36.5817°N 36.1650°E / 36.5817; 36.1650
 • MayorMehmet Fatih Tosyalı (AKP)
247 km2 (95 sq mi)
 • Density1,000/km2 (2,600/sq mi)
Time zoneTRT (UTC+3)
Area code0326

İskenderun (Arabic: إسكندرونة), historically known as Alexandretta (Greek: Αλεξανδρέττα, lit.'little Alexandria') and Scanderoon,[2][3][4] is a municipality and district of Hatay Province, Turkey.[5] Its area is 247 km2,[6] and its population is 251,682 (2022).[1] It is on the Mediterranean coast. Located on an alluvial plain, the city was heavily damaged by powerful earthquakes in February 2023 and subsequent aftershocks, floods and fires.

The city's history dates back to 333 BC, when it was founded by Alexander the Great as Alexandretta. It subsequently fell under Seleucid rule before being conquered by the Romans. After defeating the Byzantines in the 8th century, the Abbasid Caliphate gained control of the city. During the First Crusade, it came under the control of the Principality of Antioch before being captured by the Mamluk Sultanate.

By the 15th century, the Ottomans had conquered the city, maintaining control over it until the partition of the Ottoman Empire after the Allied victory in World War I. It subsequently became a sanjak in the French mandate of Syria until 1938, when France granted the region independence. The city became part of the Hatay State which in turn united with Turkey in 1939.


The city was founded as Alexandria (Ἀλεξάνδρεια) to commemorate Alexander the Great's victory over the Persian Darius III at Issus (Cilicia) in (333 BC). Starting in the Middle Ages, Western pilgrims used the diminutive Romance form Alexandretta.[7]


Ruins of Bagras Castle on the Nur (Amanos) Mountains near İskenderun


İskenderun preserves the name, but probably not the exact site, of Alexandria ad Issum. The settlement was so called having been founded by Alexander the Great in 333 BC to supersede Myriandus as the key to the Syrian Gates, about 37 km (23 miles) south of the scene of his victory at the Battle of Issus against the Persian King Darius III.[8] Alexander camped in the highlands of İskenderun, around Esentepe, and then ordered the city to be established and named Alexandria. İskenderun is one of many cities founded on Alexander's orders, including Alexandria, Egypt. A memorial, a monument and a bronze statue for the victory were raised at the city, and Herodian writes that they were there even during his time, c. 200 AD.[9]

The importance of the place comes from its relation to the aforesaid Syrian Gates, the easiest approach to the open ground of Hatay Province and Aleppo.[8] Because of its hilly, rough surroundings, the city also went by the name of Alexandria Scabiosa ('Alexandria the Mountainous').[10]

Ecclesiastical history[edit]

The Peutinger Map showing İskenderun and Seleucia in the 4th century.

The bishopric of Alexandria Minor was a suffragan of Anazarbus, the capital and so also the ecclesiastical metropolis of the Roman province of Cilicia Secunda. Greek menologia speak of Saint Helenus, and the martyr saints Aristio and Theodore as early bishops of the See. But the first documented one is Hesychius, who took part in the First Council of Nicaea in 325 and in a synod at Antioch in 341. Philomusus participated in the First Council of Constantinople in 381. Baranes is mentioned in connection with a synod at Antioch in 445. At the Council of Chalcedon in 451, Julianus was represented by his metropolitan, Cyrus of Anazarbus. Basilius was at the synod in Constantinople in 459 that condemned simoniacs. In 518, Paulus was deposed by the Byzantine Emperor Justinian for supporting the Jacobite Severus of Antioch.[11][12]

The district center and Gulf of İskenderun

No longer a residential diocese, Alexandria Minor is today listed by the Catholic Church as a titular see.[13] In that list it was long named Cambysopolis,[10] but the Annuario Pontificio now gives the correct ancient name.

Ottoman era[edit]

There was fighting here under the Ottoman Empire: in 1606 the army of General Kuyucu Murat Pasha suppressed the Jelali revolts. The Ottomans continued to fortify the city, and the remains of the early 17th-century Ottoman castle walls can still be seen where the Güzün stream crosses the Varyant road. The city was well described in 1675 by the English naval chaplain Henry Teonge in his diary. The next army to cross the Belen Pass and attack Anatolia through here were the Egyptians of Muhammad Ali in 1832.

View of the Mediterranean Sea from the promenade of İskenderun

However, in the later Ottoman period the city developed as the main port on the Mediterranean for the overland trade from Baghdad and India, which had great importance until the establishment of the Egyptian overland route. Alexandretta served as a base, first for Genoese and Venetian merchants, then Western and Northern European merchants. The British Levant Company maintained an agency and factory here for 200 years, until 1825, in spite of high mortality among its employees[8] because of regional disease, some due to lack of sanitation systems. During the 19th century the port grew, and the road to Aleppo was improved.[citation needed] Sanitation was also improved,[8] and the railway was built in 1912.

At the outset of World War I, when Britain was contemplating the partition of the Ottoman Empire, Lord Kitchener considered the conquest of Alexandretta to be essential in providing Britain with a port and railhead from which to access Iraq. He proposed a new railway be built to the east from Alexandretta, which would greatly reduce the time for reaching India from the UK. The De Bunsen Committee (8 April – 30 June 1915), a British inter-departmental group which was set up to discuss the issue in greater detail, preferred Haifa for this purpose.[14]

Ultimately the British decided not to attack the Ottoman Empire via Alexandretta. On 8 February 1915 the French foreign minister, Théophile Delcassé, protested to Britain's Foreign Secretary, Sir Edward Grey about such an attack, citing a commitment that Britain made in 1912 that it had no designs on Syria.[15] The German field marshal, Hindenburg, later said that

Perhaps not the whole course of the war, but certainly the fate of our Ottoman Ally, could have been settled out of hand, if England had secured a decision in that region, or even seriously attempted it. Possession of the country south of the Tauras [mountains] would have been lost to Turkey at a blow if the English had succeeded in landing at Alexandretta.[16]

Turkish forces under Colonel Şükrü Kanatlı entered İskenderun on 5 July 1938

Armenians, who have maintained a cultural and economic presence in Iskenderun for centuries, most notably due to trade, were wiped out in the Hamidian Massacres,[17] Adana Massacres,[18] and the Armenian genocide,[19] after centuries of discrimination.[citation needed]

Republic of Hatay[edit]

Following the collapse of the Ottoman Empire at the end of the First World War, most of Hatay including İskenderun was occupied by French troops.

In July 1920 the San Remo conference did not assign Alexandretta sanjak to Turkey.[20] Between 1921 and 1937, the city was part of the autonomous Sanjak of Alexandretta within French-controlled Syria, under the League of Nations French Mandate of Syria and the Lebanon.[21]

The Republic of Hatay was founded in 1938 and, in 1939, it joined the Republic of Turkey after a referendum. The referendum was, and still is, regarded as illegitimate, as the Turkish government moved supporters into the city[22][23] and the Turkish Army "expelled most of the province's Alawite Arabs, Greek and Armenian majority" to decide the referendum result.[24]

In the 2010s Syria still claimed against Turkey its sovereignty on the Alexandretta region.[20]

Modern era[edit]

At the 2013 reorganisation, İskenderun district lost a large part of its territory to the new district Arsuz.[25]

In February 2023, the city was heavily damaged by powerful earthquakes and subsequent floods and fires.[26] On 8 February 2023, the fire at the Port of Iskenderun was extinguished[27] but broke out again the next day.[28]


İskenderun is located on the eastern Mediterranean coast on the Gulf of İskenderun, at the foot of the Nur Mountains (Amanos Mountains).


There are 45 neighbourhoods in İskenderun District:[29]

  • Akarca
  • Akçay
  • Aşkarbeyli
  • Azganlık
  • Barbaros
  • Barıştepe
  • Bekbele
  • Bitişik
  • Buluttepe
  • Büyükdere
  • Çay
  • Cebike
  • Çınarlı
  • Cırtıman
  • Cumhuriyet
  • Denizciler
  • Dumlupınar
  • Esentepe
  • Fatihsultan
  • Gültepe
  • Gürsel
  • Güzelçay
  • Hürriyet
  • İsmet İnönü
  • Kaledibi
  • Karayılan
  • Kavaklıoluk
  • Kocatepe
  • Kurtuluş
  • Meydan
  • Modernevler
  • Muradiye
  • Mustafa Kemal
  • Numune
  • Orhangazi
  • Pınarbaşı
  • Pirireis
  • Sakarya
  • Sarıseki
  • Savaş
  • Suçıkağı
  • Süleymaniye
  • Yenişehir
  • Yıldırımtepe
  • Yunusemre


İskenderun has a Mediterranean climate with hot, dry summers, and mild, moderately rainy winters (Köppen: Csa, Trewartha: Cs). At certain times of the year the town is swept by a strong wind called 'Yarıkkaya'. The countryside contains large areas of fruit groves. It is an important producer of oranges, tangerines and lemons, and even tropical fruits such as mangoes.

Climate data for İskenderun
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 25.0
Mean daily maximum °C (°F) 15.4
Daily mean °C (°F) 12.0
Mean daily minimum °C (°F) 8.6
Record low °C (°F) −0.8
Average precipitation mm (inches) 81.7
Average rainy days 11.3 11.1 11.4 9.4 6.6 3.3 3.1 3.7 5.8 8.7 8.7 11.1 94.2
Average relative humidity (%) 61 63 66 69 72 74 74 72 67 65 63 63 67
Mean monthly sunshine hours 130.2 142.8 189.1 216 279 309 294.5 288.3 264 232.5 168 124 2,637.4
Mean daily sunshine hours 4.2 5.1 6.1 7.2 9 10.3 9.5 9.3 8.8 7.5 5.6 4 7.2
Mean daily daylight hours 10 10.9 12 13.2 14.1 14.6 14.4 13.5 12.4 11.2 10.2 9.7 12.2
Source 1: Devlet Meteoroloji İşleri Genel Müdürlüğü[30]
Source 2: Weatherbase[31]Weather Atlas(Sun-daylight)[32]
Iskenderun mean sea temperature[33]
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
17.6 °C (63.7 °F) 16.4 °C (61.5 °F) 16.6 °C (61.9 °F) 17.6 °C (63.7 °F) 20.9 °C (69.6 °F) 24.8 °C (76.6 °F) 27.5 °C (81.5 °F) 28.5 °C (83.3 °F) 27.8 °C (82.0 °F) 25.4 °C (77.7 °F) 21.5 °C (70.7 °F) 18.9 °C (66.0 °F)


19th-century traveler Martin Hartmann put the population of Iskenderun at roughly 500 households with no entry on ethnicity. Out of the 29 other settlements he listed in the Ottoman nahiyah of Iskenderun, 19 were Turkish (366 houses), 2 were Alawite (100 houses), 2 were Turkish-Alawite mixed (28 houses), and no information was listed for the remaining 6. He did not list any Sunni Arab households.[34]

Main sights[edit]

Panoramic view of the Gulf of İskenderun from İskenderun's district center




Distinctive İskenderun dishes include Künefe, a hot dessert with cheese. The main dishes include the Turkish staples such as döner and other kebabs served in the flat dürüm bread, lahmacun and also Antakya influenced cuisine including kibbeh, and sour pomegranate syrup used as a salad dressing. İskenderun in particular offers good quality fish and prawns.


İskenderun is served by the Güney Gazetesi newspaper.


The city has two association football clubs. One of them is Körfez İskenderunspor. The more successful İskenderunspor folded in 2006, although a phoenix club İskenderunspor 1967 was then founded in 2009.

The city's basketball team is called İskenderun Belediyesi Spor Kulübü.

In popular culture[edit]

İskenderun is featured in the film Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade as an important starting point for the Grail map. The State of Hatay is depicted as being ruled by a Sultan, although it was technically a transitional republic.

Notable natives[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Address-based population registration system (ADNKS) results dated 31 December 2022, Favorite Reports" (XLS). TÜİK. Retrieved 19 September 2023.
  2. ^ Cpt. Charlewood (1871). "Euphrates Valley Railway". Report and Transactions of the Devonshire Association for the Advancement of Science, Literature and Art. 4 (2): 428.
  3. ^ Parsons, Abraham (1808). "Travels in Africa and Asia". The Critical Review, or, Annals of Literature. 3 (14): 135.
  4. ^ Justice, Alexander (1707). A General Treatise of the Monies and Exchanges of all trading Nations. S. and J. Sprint, and J. Nicholson. p. 232.
  5. ^ Büyükşehir İlçe Belediyesi, Turkey Civil Administration Departments Inventory. Retrieved 19 September 2023.
  6. ^ "İl ve İlçe Yüz ölçümleri". General Directorate of Mapping. Retrieved 19 September 2023.
  7. ^ Encyclopedia of Islam, 2nd edition, s.v. Iskandarūn
  8. ^ a b c d  One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainHogarth, David George (1911). "Alexandretta". In Chisholm, Hugh (ed.). Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 1 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 568.
  9. ^ Herodian, History of the Empire, §3.4.1
  10. ^ a b Catholic Encyclopedia, 1908, s.v. Cambysopolis
  11. ^ Michel Lequien, Oriens christianus in quatuor Patriarchatus digestus, Paris 1740, Vol. II, coll. 903-906
  12. ^ Siméon Vailhé, v. Alexandria minor ou Alexandrette, in Dictionnaire d'Histoire et de Géographie ecclésiastiques, vol. II, Paris 1914, coll. 287-289
  13. ^ Annuario Pontificio 2013 (Libreria Editrice Vaticana 2013 ISBN 978-88-209-9070-1), p. 829
  14. ^ Fromkin, David (1989). A Peace to End all Peace. p. 149.
  15. ^ James Barr (2011). A Line in the Sand. p. 15.
  16. ^ A.J. Barker (1967). The Neglected War: Mesopotamia 1914-1918. p. 472.
  17. ^ "Hamidian massacres | Ottoman and Armenian history".
  18. ^ From Bloodless Revolution to Bloody Counterrevolution: The Adana Massacres of 1909
  19. ^ "Armenian Genocide | History, Causes, & Facts". 20 June 2023.
  20. ^ a b I. William Zartman (1 July 2017). "States, boundaries and sovereignty in the Middle East: unsteady but unchanging". International Affairs. Oxford University Press. 93 (4): 937–948. doi:10.1093/ia/iix118. ISSN 0020-5850. OCLC 1005506048. Retrieved 17 May 2021.
  21. ^ Sarah Shields, Fezzes in the River Oxford University Press, 2011
  22. ^ Fisk, Robert (1 February 2012). "Robert Fisk: Syria is used to the slings and arrows of friends and enemies". The Independent. London. Archived from the original on 7 May 2022. Retrieved 15 September 2013. French handed it over to Turkey after a fraudulent referendum
  23. ^ Fisk, Robert. "A LAND IN THE SHADOW OF DEATH". The Independent. London. Archived from the original on 7 May 2022. Retrieved 15 September 2013. After engineering a fraudulent referendum in north-west Syria – the Turks trucked their supporters into the city
  24. ^ Jack Kalpakian (2004). Identity, Conflict and Cooperation in International River Systems (Hardcover ed.). Ashgate Publishing. p. 130. ISBN 0-7546-3338-1. Turkish army ... expelled most the province's Alawite Arabs and Armenian majority. A rigged referendum followed
  25. ^ "Law No. 6360". Official Gazette (in Turkish). 6 December 2012.
  26. ^ "Son dakika... Hatay İskenderun'da depremin ardından 'deniz seviyesi' yükseldi!". Cumhuriyet. Retrieved 7 February 2023.
  27. ^ "Turkey-Syria earthquake: Fire at Iskenderun port extinguished". BBC News. 8 February 2023. Retrieved 8 February 2023.
  28. ^ "WATCH: Plane flies through smoke as port fire reignites". BBC News. 9 February 2023. Retrieved 9 February 2023.
  29. ^ Mahalle, Turkey Civil Administration Departments Inventory. Retrieved 19 September 2023.
  30. ^ "İl ve İlçelerimize Ait İstatistiki Veriler- Meteoroloji Genel Müdürlüğü". Archived from the original on 7 October 2011. Retrieved 23 February 2011.
  31. ^ "Iskenderun, Turkey Travel Weather Averages (Weatherbase)". Weatherbase.
  32. ^ "Yearly & Monthly Weather - Iskenderun, Turkey". Retrieved 28 September 2023.
  33. ^ Ltd, Copyright Global Sea Temperatures – A-Connect. "İskenderun Sea Temperature May Average, Turkey – Sea Temperatures". World Sea Temperatures.
  34. ^ Hartmann, Martin (1894). Das liwa Haleb (Aleppo) und ein Teil des Liwa Dschebel Bereket. Berlin: W. Pormetter. pp. 101–102. Retrieved 30 November 2022.


External links[edit]