It is so cool to be in a place that is where real Bible stories actually occurred. For instance, I was reading the last section of the Doctrine and Covenants the night before we went to Cappadocia, when Joseph F. Smith is pondering on the Bible stories and mentions Cappadocia by name, it was so cool to then go to that place and understand a little more about it's history and to have actually seen it's name somewhere before. That was Antioch. There really isn't a whole lot to see there, I'll be honest, but it was so cool to be where the first saints were gathered, named as Christians.
First we went to St. Peter's Cave Church, which is a natural cave that was turned into a church in later years. It has been recognized that Paul was very unlikely to ever have actually been in that cave, but it is possible that early Christians could have occasionally met there when they were forced to meet in secret. I've noticed in Turkey that there are a lot of assumed realities or created landmarks simply to attract tourists and make money (like in Istanbul where they claim to have Moses' staff, which is about 4 feet tall and as round as a nickel, or St. Paul's Church in Tarsus that was actually built in the 18th century and has painted marble columns instead of carved ones?). Sorry, sidetracked. Anyways...
It was a beautiful mountainside and it was rainy and gorgeous outside.
And rain brought snails. These things were almost the size of squirrels, I kid you not. Ok, maybe I kid a little, but they were HUGE!
Antioch also boasts the second largest mosaic museum in the world (second only to the one in Gaziantep, which we are going to see tomorrow) so we got to stroll around and see some of the most famous archeological finds in history.
Then we went to the bazaar and ate lunch, my personal favorite meal of this trip thus far.
The best purchase of the week...these awesome hand-carved bowls that start out flat and become 3D as you lift the handle. So cool!
Antioch may not have been the most exciting of cities, but we had fun and I loved just being there and enjoying the history. I'm so proud to be a follower of Christ, and so grateful for the freedoms that I enjoy that allow me to believe so freely.
P.S. Antioch is only about 10 miles from the Syrian border. Kind of scary, but kind of cool.