In and around Antakya you can’t avoid hearing Arabic spoken and the odds are the speakers are members of the Nuseyri religion.
Yet again we quote the guide book writers the Nişanyans:
“Their faith is secretive and reportedly attributes divinity to Ali, the martyred son-in-law of Mohamed. It also involves some sort of trinity of divine persons………. Mosques are shunned in favour of small shrines called ziyaret; these are always painted bright white and often located in solitary or impressive natural sites.”
Today we visited the shrine you see in the photo which is similar in shape to the Nuseyri’s smaller ziyaret shrines, and is dedicated to the Prophet Hizir. It’s next to the beach in a place called Samandağ, 15 miles south of Antakya.
Inside you get a big surprise.
The large white mass is possibly a meteorite that fell here in the unknown past and has now been enclosed by the shrine.
Devotees walk round the shrine three times praying, and there are also large charcoal burners for frankincense, which could be smelt in the shrine although none were lit when we visited.
It is also said t be auspicious to drive around the shrine three times before setting out on a journey – but it was pouring down and out of season when we visited and we didn’t witness any drivers circumnavigating the shrine.