Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Antalya - Demre Myra - The Home of Santa Claus

Myra was a leading city of the Lycian Union and superseded Xanthos in early Byzantine period to become the capital of the Lycia Union. The ruins of Myra are situated about 2 km north of todays Demre, on the Finike - Kas road. Today this large plain is almost covered with fields stuffed full of tomatoes. In ancient times this area was also probably farmed extensively, for trade purposes with the interior parts of the Lycian Union.

Myra is well known for its amphitheatre (the largest one in Lycia) and the plethora of rock-cut tombs carved in the cliffs above the ancient theatre of Myra. The St. Nicholas Church is a must see and is a short distance from the site of Myra on the outskirts of Demre and is really worth the trip. Inside the church is the sarcophagus of St. Nicholas although his remains were taken to Italy in the 19th century. The earliest church of St. Nicholas was built in the 6th century AD probably over St. Nicholas tomb. Later the church was rebuilt in the 9th century (probably rebuilt after Arab attacks). It was further rebuilt in 1042 under the patronage of Constantine of Byzantine Empire and a monastery was added at that time. Czar Alexander II of Prussia bought the building in 1863 and began to have it restored, but the renovation was never completed. Excavations and restorations were done during the 1960s and continue even today from the early 1990s. St.Nicholas Church, Myra, TurkeyThe churchs floor is of beautiful types of luxury marble mosaic floor tilings and there are some remains of wall paintings. A marble sarcophagus was reused to bury the bones of the St. Nicholas himself but actually were stolen earlier and taken to Bari, Italy.

St.Nicholas was a popular bishop at Myra in the 4th century AD, born in Patara between 260 and 280 AD. St. Nicholas was famous for his miracles and was known for his kindness. His parents died of the plague and he was left as a wealthy young man. St. Nicholas was known for his charitable nature and humility. Several legends about him have been based on his kind and giving nature and have led to the development of Santa Claus. Today, Noel of the Christianity is rooted from St. Nicholas of Myra.


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