The ancient city of Myra, close to Demre was, in the 4th century CE, the place where Saint Nicholas lived and preached. It is an important archaeological site with a well-preserved Roman theatre and impressive necropolis.

Historical Background

Myra was one of the six most important cities of ancient Lycia (Xanthos, Patara, Olympos, Pinara, Tlos, and Myra) and by the 4th century, Myra was important enough to have its own bishops, among whom Saint Nicholas (aka Santa Claus), born in nearby Patara was the most famous. At the time St. Nicholas was the bishop, Myra was also made the capital of the Roman province of Lycia. Subsequent rulers treated Myra well and the city continued to prosper, but in the 7th-century Arab raids and the silting of the harbour started the beginning of the decline. Further misfortunes, such as assaults of the Arabs, earthquakes that hit the region, and the flooding of the Myrros stream, caused the city to become largely abandoned.

Sights & Photos of Myra

The ruins of the ancient city of Myra consist of an impressive necropolis and an adjacent Roman theatre. 

The well-preserved Roman theatre is large with 35 consecutive rows of seats. The facade of the amphitheatre was richly decorated with theatrical masks and mythological scenes. To the west of the theatre, the steep cliff is honeycombed with closely packed rock-cut tombs, most of them of the Lycian house-type.

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The ancient city of Sura, whose ruins are located 5 km beyond Demre, was important for its fish-oracle of Apollo. There are only a few remains left, the most prominent being a monumental Lycian pilar-tomb dating from the 4th century BC. The tomb was intended for family burial, the owner was placed in the pillar tomb and his family in the chamber underneath.

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Andriake, the port of Myra, was founded as a sister-town at about the same time as Myra. It is located in Çayağzı, at about 5 km from the city centre of Demre at the mouth of the Androkos river. Andriake was one of the most important ports of Lycia and it was the port where Saint Paul and his companions Luke and Aristarchos changed ships on their way to Rome. The most important ruin in Andriace is the Granarium or Granary of Hadrian. This impressive and well-preserved 65x32 meter building was erected during the reign of Emperor Hadrian (117-138).

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More on Myra and its history is available on the Lycian Turkey site.

Travel Information & Travel Tips

The ruins of ancient Myra are located at about 1.5 km north of present-day Demre - Kale.

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