Cornucopia’s travel guide

Gulf of Iskenderun


This inlet is on the northeastern corner of the Mediterranean.  At Ayas Bay on the north side, the 19th-century cartographer Francis Beaufort found "the greatest number of fish and fowl – pelicans swans, geese, ducks and gulls" as well as scores of green turtles weighing up to 260lb. It was also here that the he was shot by a "ruffian", the event described in Beaufort's Hunt (Cornucopia 27). The largest town in the bay is industrial Iskenderun, named after Alexander the Great. Important because it controlled the Belen Pass (Syrian Gates) through the Nur mountains into Syria, it was founded as Alexandretta after the Macedonian king defeated the Persian Darius here at the Battle if Issus in 332BC. Alexander's build-up to the battle is described by Brian Sewell in Cornucopia 2. It has been a major trading port since Roman times. Long fought over, its history has been lively. It was the capital of the 1931 Republic of Hatay and French architecture on the promenade is a legacy of colonial rule.

Connoisseur’s Gulf of Iskenderun