WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW!
- Antakya, a historically rich city in southern Turkey, has been left in ruins after two massive earthquakes on Feb. 6.
- The destruction in Antakya stands out compared to the devastation in other areas impacted by the earthquakes.
- Survivors fled the city, leaving behind abandoned buildings and remnants of previous lives.
Antakya, a city of nearly 400,000 people with a rich history of Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman culture, has been reduced to a city of ghosts. The destruction caused by two massive earthquakes on February 6 has left the city in ruins, with many buildings either collapsed or severely damaged. The devastation in Antakya stands out compared to the destruction caused in other areas affected by the earthquakes. The view from the night sky reveals a once vibrant city that now appears dark and abandoned.
One of the most striking aspects of the destruction is the sense of abandonment. Countless lives were suddenly interrupted as survivors fled the city, leaving behind their possessions and homes. Passports, family pictures, and laundry remain where they were left, now covered in dust and rubble. The lament heard around the city is, “Antakya bitti,” which translates to “Antakya is finished.”
Antakya’s Kurtulus Street, known for being the first illuminated thoroughfare in history, was once a thriving shopping area filled with antiques stores, restaurants, and homes. Now, it remains eerily quiet, with buildings and shops either destroyed or abandoned. The street is home to Habib-i Neccar, one of Anatolia’s oldest mosques, now in ruins, and St. Pierre Church, already hundreds of years old when Christian crusaders oversaw an expansion in the early 12th century. While the church’s stone face remains unharmed, a stairway was damaged in the quakes.
Survivors and rescue teams still in the city are confronted with scenes of destruction and abandonment. High-rises that appear unscathed stand next to others that have collapsed into hills of powder and twisted metal. Soldiers patrol some streets to prevent looting, while donated clothes meant for earthquake victims remain unclaimed on street corners throughout the city. The earthquake has left many in the city feeling hopeless and without a clear path forward.