Region: Antalya - Demre
Local time: 00:29
Demre, quite apart from being a tourism centre, is also an important agricultural region. Greenhouses are widely used and many varieties of vegetables are grown. Its touristic reputation is as the home of St. Nicholas (Father Christmas, Santa Claus), who lived and served as bishop here. He was born in nearby Patara to a rich family, died on 6 December 343 AD. He was buried in a sarcophagus in a church built in his name. However, the church was badly damaged in an earthquake in 529, later being restored with the support of the Byzantine Emperor Justinian. In 1087 a group of Italian seafarers came to Demre, opened the saint's sarcophagus, placed most of the bones in a sack, and took them to the Italian town of Bari. The remaining relics are on display in the Antalya Museum.
When you look at the hill to the north of the Church of St. Nicholas, you see rock-hewn tombs. These monumental tombs are from the ancient city of Myra. Myra was one of the most powerful cities of the Lycian Union and held three votes in the league. The history of the city goes back as far as the 5th century BC. As the Christian faith began to spread, one of the Apostles of Jesus Christ, St. Paul, came to Myra. As you enter the ancient city, one of the first things you see is the theatre which has 35 rows of seat. The site of the city was decorated with statues, columns, and reliefs, some of which have survived to our time. Some of the rock-hewn tombs are near the theatre. When you look down to the town of Demre from the acropolis, the reflection from the plastic greenhouses in the sunlight makes for an interesting sight.