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Float Above Dazzling Ancient Ruins in Fascinating New Hotel

Ian Harvey
The Hotel Museum Antakya. Image courtesy of the hotel.
The Hotel Museum Antakya. Image courtesy of the hotel.

A new hotel will allow you to float softly above beautiful ancient ruins. Turkey sprang from the Ottoman Empire, a thousand years “behind” it, and countless ruins “below” the surfaces of its modern cities. Whenever a new construction project begins, chances are crews will discover traces of a centuries-old culture hidden not far beneath the surface soil. Sometimes those ruins cannot be preserved or excavated, as modern life simply has to press on, and new structures must be built.

But sometimes they can be preserved, particularly when project managers have determination and imagination — and the necessary funding — to pause the work until the site is examined by archaeologists. From there, antiquities from those ruins are sometimes carted away, cleaned, stored and put on display for the public.

In one instance, however, the project owners got creative and decided to do both at once — excavate the site and build their luxury project on top of it. Not so the site is taken elsewhere, but rather so it vividly shows through the floor and other areas for any and all to see.

hotel ancient ruins

The floor mosaic in the Necmi Asfuroğlu Archaeology Museum is the single largest in the world, covering more than an astonishing 11,000 square feet. (Photo: Museum Hotel Antakya)

The Asfuroglu family in Turkey had big plans, back in 2009, for a five-star luxury hotel in Antakya. As soon as the earth was broken, however, the construction crew discovered the remains of the ancient Roman city of Antioch. Rather than abandon construction and turn it over to archaeologists, the family decided to do both: excavate the site and build the hotel so it “floats” above the ruins. It took approximately 20,000 tons of architectural steel to support it, but the hotel is now finished and will soon be open for business.

ancient floor mosaic

This exquisitely decorated floor mosaic dates to the 2nd century A.D. and includes depictions of the mythical winged horse Pegasus, Greek god Apollo and the Nine Muses. (Photo: Museum Hotel Antakya)

Originally, plans called for a modern, concrete, 400 room luxury hotel, but when the ruins were discovered, the family shifted gears and brought in an architect who designed a space that essentially sits “above” the ancient city. It’s as though patrons no longer have to choose between relaxing at their hotel and visiting a museum — they can now do both, at the Museum Hotel Antakya. The museum section of the project holds about 35,000 artifacts from the site, which dates back to the 3rd century BC. It took a team of 35 archaeologists and other experts about 18 months just to excavate the site — never mind the actual construction on the hotel.

mosaic museum

Walkway overlooking an ancient mosaic (Photo: Museum Hotel Antakya)

 

hotel museum

Lounge inside the hotel. (Photo: Museum Hotel Antakya)

The room count was reduced to 200 to make room for plenty of spaces for the public to enjoy, such as a more-than-1,000 square metre mosaic, and the only intact statue of Greek god Eros in the world that’s now on display. It has taken more than 10 years to complete, but this summer it opens for guests and visitors from alike. According to a recent item on CNN Travel, the excavation was the largest undertaking of its kind in Turkey since the 1930s, almost a century ago.

hotel ancient ruins

To create the impression of “floating” the hotel above the ruins, architects used 66 steel columns. (Photo: Museum Hotel Antakya)

 

hotel ancient ruins

Room inside the hotel. (Photo: Museum Hotel Antakya)

The family didn’t shy away from the enormous expense the project incurred, though it was many millions of dollars more than they originally anticipated. Timur Asfuroglu, one of the family’s spokesmen and a member of the board, told CNN, that initially his family was unsure of whether to proceed. But officials encouraged them because of the valuable contribution to history they would make, and what it meant to Turkey and, in fact, the world. The family was soon on board.

hotel ancient ruins

The incredible Museum Hotel Antakya. (Photo: Museum Hotel Antakya)

 

hotel ancient ruins

Bed inside the hotel. (Photo: Museum Hotel Antakya)

“This (is) a world project,” he stated, “and a legacy (to be) left to humanity.” Chances are the Asfuroglus will never recoup their investment, but a hotel that is also a museum, and an extraordinary one at that, isn’t really intended to be a money generating enterprise. It is a teaching tool as much as it is a vacation destination.

Related Article: Inside the 12th Century Mermaid Inn – England’s Creepiest Historic Hotel

When the doors finally open again to this fantastic hotel above ancient ruins, no doubt it will be on a lot of travellers’ “top 10” lists, for the elegance, for the luxury, and perhaps most of all for the history.