Dover Hatay Turkey

by kind permission
of the Dover Mercury, (KMG)
April 2009


Döver, pronounced Doeuver in Turkish, means 'to beat or hit a person', for instance Mike Tyson beats / hits his opponent when boxing! There are at least two Döver's in the country, the first of which is on the Mediterranean coast, in the Orontes valley close to Antakya in the Province of Hatay.

The Province of Hatay takes its name from the ‘Hettena’ people or Hittites, as they are also referred to, and was the centre of the Hellenistic Seleucid Empire. The small village of Döver is famed for its laurels and waterfalls and it was nearby that Daphne a huntress in Greek mythology, refused the attentions of the god Apollo. He pursued her through the woods and she prayed to her father for help. As Apollo advanced upon her, she was changed into a laurel tree which Apollo then made his sacred tree.

Antakya, as the ancient Antioch is known today, is Turkey's fourth largest city which was founded in 300 BC. From 64BC, it became an important centre of the Roman Empire and after the death of Jesus one of his apostles, St Peter, went to Antioch to spread the gospel. He soon gathered many new converts and the cave where he worshipped can still be seen today. It was in Antioch and due to St Peter that Jesus’ followers were first called 'Christian'.

Following the fall of the Roman Empire, the area was conquered by the Arabs and from 877 was under the control of Turkish emirates. Then during the First Crusade, in 969, by the Byzantine Empire.The Armenians seized power in 1078,

and then in 1084 the Selijuk Turks captured it. In 1095, Antioch was relived to become the seat of one of the four Crusader kingdoms; the others were the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem, Tripoli, and Edessa.

On 1 December 1189 Richard I was in Dover and signed a charter that day. A fortnight later he embarked from the town on the Third Crusade with one hundred ships and eighty galleys. Although he was successful as the main commander, he was shipwrecked on his way home and was forced to travel by land. In December 1192 he was captured near Vienna by Leopald V, Duke of Austria and held hostage while the demand for 65,000 pounds of silver. This was about 2.5 times the annual income for the Crown at that time and led to the introduction of heavy taxes – and the rise of Robin Hood et al! Finally Richard was released on 4 February 1194.

Eventually, the area was taken over by the Mameluks and then the Ottomans and given the name Alexandretta. Following WWI the Ottoman Empire was disbanded and modern Turkey created. Alexandretta, seen by many as part of Syria was conveyed to Syria under a French mandate and renamed Iskandarun Hatay.

Years of turbulence followed until the Turkish army entered the province on 5 July 1938. Eleven months later, by a referendum vote in the Hatay Assembly, the Province joined the Turkish Republic. The tensions, however, remained such that it was still shown as part of Syria on some maps.

The small is close to Antakya and is famed for its laurels and waterfalls. It was nearby, Daphne a huntress in Greek mythology, refused the attentions of the god Apollo. He pursued her through the woods and she prayed to her father for help. As Apollo advanced upon her, she was changed into a laurel tree which Apollo then made his sacred tree.

Although the village of Döver is not a tourist destination it is said be very beautiful. Besides the laurel trees, the water of Döver's streams are described as being " soft and delicious" and the surrounding countryside is very green. Most of the inhabitants are farmers and there is also some silk worm breeding. The village has an elementary school, several restaurants and coffeehouses used by locals. There is also a turbe, a religiously important mausoleum.

The area also has another claim to fame. In the film, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, the Nazi's offer the Sultan of Hatay precious jewels to compensate for removing the Holy Grail from his Province. The Sultan, however, ignored the jewels and instead demands the Rolls Royce Phantom II which the Nazi's had come in!

Thanks to Burak Sansal of AllAboutTurkey and Sonay Ercakalli of GoTurkey

All about Dover Hatay Turkey Website


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