Founded in 312 BCE as the capital of the Seleucid kingdom, which stretched, at its peak, from the Aegean to Afghanistan, Antioch was founded by Seleucus, one of Alexander the Great’s generals. The Seleucid kingdom was consumed by Rome, and by the 2nd century CE, Antioch rivalled Alexandria as the prime city in the Eastern Empire. The original Greek walled city was sited on the east bank of the Orontes; it was later expanded northwards to an island in the river, where a royal palace was built. The Roman emperor, Tiberius, colonnaded the main streets and created a grand tetrapylon, or four-arched gate, in front of the palace. The circus, housing up to 80,000 spectators, hosted chariot racing, while the nymphaeum was a celebrated spring-fed grotto. The cherubim crowning its eponymous gate were looted from Jerusalem. In 115 CE, the city was devastated by a huge earthquake, and thereafter went into decline.
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