The city was founded as Alexandria (Αλεξάνδρεια) and named for Alexander the Great.
Starting in the Middle Ages, Western pilgrims used the diminutive Romance form Alexandretta.
After the Muslim conquest of Syria, it was named al-ʼIskandarūn (Arabic الإسكندرون), the Arabic rendering of the original "Alexandrou"; this name was further turkified into Ottoman Turkish as İskenderūn (إسكندرون), which in turn was preserved in its current modern Turkish form as İskenderun.
İskenderun is located on the eastern Mediterranean coast on the Gulf of İskenderun, at the foot of the Nur Mountains (Amanos Mountains).
İskenderun is a busy commercial centre and is one of the largest cities in Hatay Province, similar in size to the provincial seat of Antakya. The city is one of Turkey's largest ports on the Mediterranean and an important industrial centre home to the İsdemir steelworks, one of Turkey's largest. İskenderun has an active, modern life with good hotels, restaurants and cafes along the palm-lined sea front. There is a variety of accommodation for visitors. İskenderun is also an important naval training base.
The climate on this stretch of the Mediterranean is (Köppen: Csa) hot and humid in summer. Winters are mild and wet. At certain times of the year the town is swept by a strong wind called 'Yarıkkaya'. The countryside contains large areas of fruit groves. It is an important producers of oranges, tangerines and lemons, and even tropical fruits such as mangoes.
Distinctive İskenderun dishes include Künefe, a hot dessert with cheese. The main dishes include the Turkish staples such as döner and other kebabs served in the flat dürüm bread, lahmacun and also Antakya influenced cuisine including kibbeh, and sour pomegranate syrup used as a salad dressing. İskenderun in particular offers good quality fish and prawns.
İskenderun preserves the name, but probably not the exact site, of Alexandria ad Issum. The settlement was founded by Alexander the Great in 333 BC to supersede Myriandrus as the key to the Syrian Gates, about 37 km (23 miles) south of the scene of his victory at the Battle of Issus. Alexander camped in the high-lands of İskenderun, around Esentepe, and then ordered the city to be established and named Alexandria. İskenderun is one of many cities founded on Alexander's orders, including Alexandria, Egypt.
The importance of the place comes from its relation to the Syrian Gates, the easiest approach to the open ground of Hatay Province and Aleppo.
The bishopric of Alexandria Minor was a suffragan of Anazarbus, the capital and so also the ecclesiastical metropolis of the Roman province of Cilicia Secunda. Greek menologia speak of Saint Helenus, and the martyr saints Aristio and Theodore as early bishops of the see. But the first documented one is Hesychius, who took part in the First Council of Nicaea in 325 and in a synod at Antioch in 341. Philomusus participated in the First Council of Constantinople in 381. Baranes is mentioned in connection with a synod at Antioch in 445. At the Council of Chalcedon in 451, Julianus was represented by his metropolitan, Cyrus of Anazarbus. Basilius was at the synod in Constantinople in 459 that condemned simoniacs. In 518, Paulus was deposed by the Byzantine Emperor Justinian for supporting the Jacobite Severus of Antioch.
No longer a residential diocese, Alexandria Minor is today listed by the Catholic Church as a titular see. In that list it was long named Cambysopolis, but the Annuario Pontificio now gives the correct ancient name.
The area was still a scene of fighting under the Ottomans, as it was here in 1606 that the army of general Kuyucu Murat Pasha suppressed the Celali revolts. The Ottomans continued to fortify the city and the remains of the early 17th-century Ottoman castle walls can still be seen where the Güzün stream crosses the Varyant road. The city was well described in 1675 by the English naval chaplain Henry Teonge in his diary. The next army to cross the Belen Pass and attack Anatolia through here were the Egyptians of Muhammad Ali in 1832.
However, in the later Ottoman period the city grew and grew as the main outlet for the overland trade from Baghdad and India, which had great importance until the establishment of the Egyptian overland route. Iskenderun served as a base, first for Genoese and Venetian merchants, then West and North European merchants. The British Levant Company maintained an agency and factory here for 200 years, until 1825, in spite of appalling mortality among its employees. During the 19th century the port grew, the railway was built in 1912, and the road to Aleppo was improved.
At the outset of World War I, when Britain was contemplating the dismemberment of the Ottoman Empire, Lord Kitchener considered the conquest of Alexandretta to be essential in providing Britain with a port and railhead from which to access Iraq. He proposed a new railway from Alexandretta which would greatly reduce the time for reaching India from the UK. The de Bunsen Committee (8 April - 30 June 1915), a British inter-departmental group which was set up to discuss the issue in greater detail, preferred Haifa for this purpose.
Following the collapse of the Ottoman Empire at the end of the First World War, most of Hatay including İskenderun was occupied by French troops. Between 1921 and 1937 the city was part of the autonomous Sanjak of Alexandretta within French-controlled Syria under the League of Nations French Mandate of Syria and the Lebanon. This led to the foundation of the Republic of Hatay. In 1939, it joined with the Republic of Turkey after a referendum. The referendum was, and still is, regarded as illegitimate by Syria.Yakacık (Payas) contains a splendid example of Ottoman architecture dating back to the 16th century: the külliye of Sokollu Mehmet Pasha comprising a mosque, Turkish bath (hamam), Dervish lodge, bazaar, caravanserai, and madrasa.
Arsuz (Uluçınar), a holiday resort town on the coast to the south of İskenderun, with beautiful sandy beaches, a very warm sea, and places of historical interest. The coast is lined with holiday homes and there is accommodation in hotels or guest houses.
The Cathedral of the Annunciation is the seat of the Roman Catholic Apostolic Vicariate of Anatolia.
Soğukoluk, mountain resort on the way to Antakya, a quiet retreat from the heat of the coast in the summer months.
Bakras (Bagras) Castle, which was built in antiquity and restored many times in later centuries (particularly during the Crusades, when it was a stronghold of the Knights Templar), served as a watchtower on the 27 km (17 mi) mountain road from İskenderun to Antakya (Antioch).
The city has two football clubs. One of them is Körfez İskenderunspor. The other, more successful team İskenderunspor folded in 2006, however a phoenix club İskenderunspor 1967 has been founded in 2009.
The city's basketball team is called İskenderun Belediyesi Spor Kulübü.
İskenderun is served by the Güney Gazetesi newspaper.Nilüfer Çınar Çorlulu
Helenus of Alexandria (Cilicia)
Murat DOLAŞIR- Lawyer