General Information

Located on the Lycian coast of Turkey, Myra is the ancient Greek city close to the small town of Demre. The city is famous for it being the seat of the Archbishop St. Nicholas, who was a very important religious figure in early Christianity. Having lived in the 4th century AD, the Saint is known for being the role model for the contemporary concept of Santa Claus. He had a reputation of secret gift-giving, and also said to have performed many miracles, ranging from saving the lives of innocents before they were executed unjustly, to the miracle of wheat multiplication during a great famine.

Culture and History

Many religious structures that have been built during the Byzantine era are still to be seen, as they were well preserved and maintained throughout even the Ottoman era. The city of Myra also has many ancient rock-cut tombs within its necropolis, and a standing amphitheater, which was also, evidently, used as an arena for gladiatorial fights during the Roman Empire period.

The church of St. Nicholas at Myra was built in the 6th century. The present-day structure was built during the 8th century, and the monastery was added during the 11th century. With the arrival of first the Abbasids and then the Seljuks, many relics were spirited away by Italian sailors from Bari. The importance of the church even caused Tsar Alexander II of Russia to purchase the building to restore the church and renovate the tomb.