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Myra

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Myra - Demre - TurkeyMyra was one of the six most important cities of ancient Lycia (Xanthos, Patara, Olympos, Pinara, Tlos, and Myra) and by the 4thcentury, Myra was important enough to have its own bishops, among whom St. 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 7thcentury decline set in as a result of Arab raids and the silting of the harbor. As a result of further misfortunes caused by more assaults of the Arabs, earthquakes that hit the region, and the flooding of the Myrros stream, the city was largely abandoned.

The ruins of the ancient city of Myra consist of an impressive necropolis and adjacent Roman theater and are located at about 1.5 km north of present-day  Demre - Kale. The well-preserved Roman theater of Myra is large with 35 consecutive rows of seats. The facade of the amphitheater was richly decorated with theatrical masks and mythological scenes. To the west of the theater, the steep cliff is honeycombed with closely packed rock-cut tombs, most of them of the Lycian house-type.

 

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.

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 center of Demre at the mouth of the Androkos river. Andriace 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 Hadrianus (117-138).

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

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