Bethina Nielson

Bethina Nielson

Published: 13 Jul 2023


Welcome to the fascinating city of Iskenderun! Located on the eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea, Iskenderun is a hidden gem filled with rich history, vibrant culture, and breathtaking natural beauty. This bustling city, also known as Alexandretta, has a lot to offer its visitors. From ancient ruins and historical landmarks to delicious cuisine and warm hospitality, Iskenderun has something for everyone.

In this article, we will take a closer look at 45 interesting facts about Iskenderun that will leave you intrigued and eager to explore this enchanting city. So, whether you are planning a trip to Iskenderun or simply curious about its unique qualities, get ready to uncover the many wonders and secrets that make this city truly special.

Table of Contents

Iskenderun, also known as Alexandretta, is a vibrant and historic city located on the eastern Mediterranean coast of Turkey.

Iskenderun holds great significance due to its strategic location, rich cultural heritage, and natural beauty.

Iskenderun is home to one of the largest ports in Turkey, making it a major hub for international trade and commerce.

The port serves as a vital gateway for the export and import of goods, contributing to the economic growth of the region.

With a population of approximately 250,000 people, Iskenderun is a melting pot of different cultures and ethnicities.

Its diverse population adds to the multicultural fabric of the city, resulting in a unique blend of traditions, languages, and cuisines.

Iskenderun boasts a rich and ancient history dating back to the Hittites, Greeks, Romans, and Byzantines.

The city has witnessed the rise and fall of numerous civilizations, leaving behind a treasure trove of archaeological sites and ruins.

The Hatay Archaeology Museum in Iskenderun showcases an impressive collection of artifacts depicting the region’s rich heritage.

Visitors can explore ancient artifacts, including pottery, statues, and jewelry, providing a glimpse into the city’s past.

Iskenderun is renowned for its delicious cuisine, with dishes like Iskender kebab, a local specialty that originated in the city.

The succulent kebab consists of thinly sliced lamb or beef, served over toasted bread and topped with tangy tomato sauce and melted butter.

Iskenderun is surrounded by stunning natural landscapes, including the beautiful Amanos Mountains and the turquoise waters of the Mediterranean Sea.

Outdoor enthusiasts can explore hiking trails, go diving or swimming, and enjoy the scenic beauty of the region.

The city has a pleasant Mediterranean climate, characterized by hot and dry summers, mild winters, and a comfortable spring and autumn.

With its favorable climate, Iskenderun attracts visitors year-round, providing an ideal destination for beach lovers and sun-seekers.

Iskenderun is home to several notable landmarks, including the iconic Statue of Ataturk, which stands as a symbol of Turkey’s founder.

The statue is a popular gathering spot and offers a panoramic view of the city and its surroundings.

The city hosts various cultural festivals throughout the year, celebrating music, dance, and traditional arts.

These festivals provide a platform for local and international artists to showcase their talents and promote cultural exchange.

Iskenderun’s coastal location allows for a variety of water sports activities, such as sailing, windsurfing, and jet skiing.

Adventurous visitors can indulge in these thrilling activities, taking advantage of the city’s natural resources.

Iskenderun has a bustling nightlife scene, with numerous bars, clubs, and restaurants offering entertainment options for every taste.

From cozy cafes to lively nightclubs, the city caters to both locals and tourists, ensuring a vibrant and lively atmosphere.

Iskenderun is home to several ancient castles, such as Koz Castle and Payas Castle, which stand as remnants of the city’s past defenses.

Exploring these centuries-old structures allows visitors to step back in time and imagine the city’s historical significance.

Iskenderun serves as a gateway to the stunning Hatay Province, which is known for its picturesque villages, olive groves, and vineyards.

Visitors can take day trips to nearby towns, immersing themselves in the rural charm and authentic local culture.

Iskenderun’s economy is not solely reliant on its port but also benefits from various industries, including textile manufacturing and agriculture.

The city’s agricultural sector produces various crops, including olives, citrus fruits, and cotton.

Iskenderun is known for its warm and hospitable locals, who are always ready to welcome visitors with open arms and share their cultural traditions.

Interacting with the friendly residents provides an authentic and enriching experience, allowing visitors to connect with the local community.

The city is well-connected with other parts of Turkey through a network of highways and an international airport, making it easily accessible for travelers.

Transportation options include buses, taxis, and car rentals, ensuring convenient travel within and beyond Iskenderun.

Iskenderun has a thriving art and music scene, with numerous galleries and theaters showcasing the talents of local artists and performers.

Art enthusiasts can admire various exhibitions, while theater lovers can enjoy plays, musicals, and other live performances.

The local markets of Iskenderun are a treasure trove for shoppers, offering a wide range of goods like spices, textiles, and traditional handicrafts.

Exploring these lively bazaars provides an opportunity to purchase unique souvenirs and immerse oneself in the local shopping culture.

Iskenderun is a city of festivals, with events dedicated to celebrating food, music, art, and cultural diversity.

These festivals unite the community and create a festive atmosphere, providing entertainment for both locals and visitors alike.

Iskenderun is a paradise for seafood lovers, with a wide variety of fresh and delicious seafood dishes available in its many restaurants.

From grilled fish to shrimp stews, visitors can indulge in a culinary journey through the flavors of the Mediterranean.

The city’s vibrant nightlife includes traditional Turkish music performances and energetic dance shows.

Visitors can immerse themselves in the lively beats of Turkish music and experience the energetic spirit of local dances.

Iskenderun is known for its annual Olive and Olive Oil Festival, which celebrates the region’s olive production and showcases the versatility of the fruit.

During the festival, visitors can learn about olive oil production, sample different varieties of olives, and enjoy various olive-themed activities.

Iskenderun’s beaches are a perfect spot for relaxation, with golden sands and crystal-clear waters inviting visitors to soak up the sun and enjoy the Mediterranean coastline.

Beachgoers can indulge in swimming, sunbathing, or simply strolling along the shore, taking in the breathtaking views.

Iskenderun has a vibrant sports culture, with numerous sports complexes and stadiums catering to various athletic disciplines.

The city actively promotes sports and hosts local and international tournaments, fostering a sense of unity and healthy competition.

Iskenderun is known for its traditional handwoven carpets and rugs, crafted by skilled artisans using age-old techniques.

Visitors can explore local carpet shops, witness the intricate weaving process, and purchase beautifully crafted pieces as souvenirs.

Iskenderun’s cuisine reflects its diverse cultural influences, with influences from Turkish, Arabic, and Mediterranean cuisines.

Food enthusiasts can savor a wide array of mouthwatering dishes, including stuffed grape leaves, lamb kebabs, and baklava.

The city’s architectural landscape showcases a mix of Ottoman, French, and modern influences, reflecting its rich history and cultural heritage.

Exploring its streets unveils stunning examples of different architectural styles, creating a visually captivating experience.

Iskenderun is a gateway to the Hatay Wine Route, which offers wine enthusiasts the opportunity to taste locally produced wines amid picturesque vineyards.

Visitors can engage in wine tours, learn about winemaking traditions, and sample a variety of unique Hatay wines.

Iskenderun is home to a vibrant art community, with numerous galleries and art centers showcasing local artwork and hosting exhibitions.

Art lovers can appreciate various forms of artistic expression, including painting, sculpture, and mixed media.

The city’s vibrant cultural scene includes regular theater performances, dance shows, and music concerts, providing entertainment for all tastes.

Whether it’s a classical music recital, a contemporary dance performance, or a local theater production, Iskenderun offers a diverse range of artistic experiences.

Iskenderun is surrounded by picturesque natural attractions, such as the Harbiye Waterfalls, where visitors can enjoy the beauty of cascading water amidst lush greenery.

Hiking trails, picnic spots, and serene natural landscapes await those seeking a peaceful retreat close to the city.

The city’s strategic location makes it an important transportation hub, connecting Turkey to neighboring countries and facilitating international trade.

Iskenderun serves as a vital link between Europe, Asia, and the Middle East, contributing to its regional significance.

Iskenderun’s cultural diversity is reflected in its festivals, which celebrate various traditions and events throughout the year.

These festivals provide an opportunity for locals and visitors to come together, experience different cultural customs, and promote unity.

Iskenderun’s vibrant street markets offer a feast for the senses, with colorful displays of fresh fruits, vegetables, spices, and local delicacies.

Exploring these lively markets allows visitors to engage with the local community, taste authentic flavors, and purchase fresh produce.

Iskenderun is a city of historical significance, with numerous ancient ruins and archaeological sites that attract history enthusiasts.

Visitors can explore ancient cities like Seleucia Pieria and see the remnants of civilizations from different eras.

Iskenderun’s proximity to the St. Peter’s Church in Antakya, one of the oldest churches in the world, makes it a popular destination for religious tourism.

People of various faiths visit the church to witness its historical importance and architectural beauty.

The city boasts a thriving cultural heritage, with various museums showcasing artifacts and relics from different periods of history.

The Hatay Archaeology Museum and the Moses Mosaic Museum are must-visit attractions for history buffs.

Iskenderun’s warm climate and favorable soil conditions make it an ideal region for olive cultivation.

Olives from Iskenderun are renowned for their exceptional quality and are widely used in local cuisine and olive oil production.

Iskenderun is known for its traditional handicrafts, including handmade copper items, intricately woven carpets, and embroidered textiles.

These crafts reflect the city’s cultural heritage and are prized as unique souvenirs or decorative pieces.

Iskenderun offers a range of outdoor activities, from trekking and camping in the Amanos Mountains to exploring the underwater world through scuba diving.

Nature enthusiasts can immerse themselves in the breathtaking landscapes and experience the region’s diverse flora and fauna.

Iskenderun’s annual International Film Festival showcases both Turkish and international cinema, providing a platform for emerging filmmakers.

Cinephiles can enjoy a diverse selection of films, attend workshops, and engage with film industry professionals.

Iskenderun is famous for its traditional handicrafts, including intricately designed copperwork, which showcases the craftsmanship and artistic skills of local artisans.

Visitors can witness the meticulous process of copper casting and purchase unique copper items as souvenirs.

Iskenderun is a paradise for nature lovers, with several national parks and protected areas in its vicinity.

Exploring places like Goksu Delta Bird Reservation and Arsuz Birds Paradise offers an opportunity to observe a wide variety of bird species and enjoy the tranquility of nature.

Iskenderun’s vibrant fish market is a must-visit for seafood enthusiasts, offering a wide selection of fresh fish and seafood delicacies.

Visitors can savor the taste of the sea with grilled fish sandwiches or indulge in a seafood feast at one of the waterfront restaurants.

Iskenderun, with its rich history, diverse culture, and stunning natural beauty, offers a unique and unforgettable experience for travelers. Whether it’s exploring ancient ruins, savoring delicious cuisine, or immersing oneself in the vibrant local festivals, Iskenderun has something to offer for everyone. So, pack your bags and embark on an exciting journey to discover the 45 fascinating facts about Iskenderun!


In conclusion, Iskenderun is a fascinating city with a rich history, diverse culture, and a multitude of attractions. From its stunning beaches and vibrant nightlife to its ancient ruins and delicious cuisine, Iskenderun offers something for everyone. Whether you’re interested in exploring historical sites, indulging in local delicacies, or simply enjoying the laid-back Mediterranean lifestyle, Iskenderun has it all. With its picturesque landscapes, warm hospitality, and unique blend of influences, this city truly captivates visitors from all over the world. So, if you’re planning your next vacation, make sure to put Iskenderun on your list of must-visit destinations. You won’t be disappointed!


1. What is the best time to visit Iskenderun?

The best time to visit Iskenderun is during the spring and autumn seasons when the weather is mild and pleasant. Summers can be hot and humid, while winters are generally mild with occasional rainfall.

2. Are there any historical sites to visit in Iskenderun?

Yes, Iskenderun is home to several historical sites, including the Hatay Archaeological Museum, Koz Castle, and the St. Pierre Church. These sites offer a glimpse into the city’s rich cultural heritage.

3. What are some popular local dishes in Iskenderun?

Iskenderun is famous for its delicious cuisine. Some popular dishes include Iskender kebab, künefe, and lahmacun. Don’t miss the opportunity to indulge in these mouthwatering local delicacies!

4. Is Iskenderun a safe city for tourists?

Iskenderun is generally considered a safe city for tourists. However, it’s always a good idea to exercise caution and take necessary precautions to ensure your safety, just like in any other destination.

5. What outdoor activities can I enjoy in Iskenderun?

Iskenderun offers a range of outdoor activities, such as swimming, sunbathing, and water sports along its beautiful beaches. You can also explore the nearby mountains and enjoy hiking, camping, and paragliding.

6. How far is Iskenderun from the nearest airport?

Iskenderun is served by Hatay Airport, which is located approximately 37 kilometers away. It takes around 40 minutes to reach Iskenderun from the airport by car.