Myra in Lycia

Monday, 5 December 2016 - 11:00 am (CET/MEZ) Berlin | Author/Destination:
Category/Kategorie: General, Union for the Mediterranean

Tomb of Saint Nicholas © Sjoehest/cc-by-sa-3.0

Tomb of Saint Nicholas © Sjoehest/cc-by-sa-3.0

Myra was an ancient Greek town in Lycia where the small town of Kale (Demre) is situated today, in present-day Antalya Province of Turkey. It was located on the river Myros (Demre Çay), in the fertile alluvial plain between Alaca Dağ, the Massikytos range and the Aegean Sea. The ruins of the Lycian and Roman town are mostly covered by alluvial silts. The Acropolis on the Demre-plateau, the Roman theatre and the Roman baths (eski hamam) have been partly excavated. The semi-circular theater was destroyed in an earthquake in 141, but rebuilt afterwards.

Excavations have been carried out at Andriake since 2009. The granary was turned into the Museum of Lycian Civilizations. The granary has seven rooms and measures 56 meters long and 32 meters wide. Artifacts found during the excavations in the Lycian League were placed in the museum. The structures in the Harbor Bazaar as well as the agora, synagogue and a six-meter deep, 24-meter long and 12-meter wide cistern were restored. A 16-meter long Roman-era boat, a crane and a cargo car were placed in front of the museum.

Tomb of Saint Nicholas © Sjoehest/cc-by-sa-3.0 Rock-cut tombs © Ingo Mehling/cc-by-sa-3.0 Ruins of Myra - Theatre © Ingo Mehling/cc-by-sa-3.0
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Ruins of Myra - Theatre © Ingo Mehling/cc-by-sa-3.0
The earliest church of St. Nicholas at Myra was built in the 6th century. The present-day church was constructed mainly from the 8th century onward; a monastery was added in the second half of the 11th century. In 1863, Tsar Alexander II of Russia purchased the building and began restoration, but the work was never finished. In 1963 the eastern and southern sides of the church were excavated. In 1968 the former confessio (tomb) of St. Nicholas was roofed over. The floor of the church is made of opus sectile, a mosaic of coloured marble, and there are some remains of frescoes on the walls. An ancient Greek marble sarcophagus had been reused to bury the Saint; but his bones were stolen in 1087 by merchants from Bari, and are now held in the cathedral of that city.

The church is currently undergoing restoration. In 2007 the Turkish Ministry of Culture gave permission for the Divine Liturgy to be celebrated in the church for the first time in centuries. On 6 December 2011 Metropolitan Chrysostomos, who has the title of Myra, accordingly officiated.

Read more on Demre, Wikivoyage Demre and Myra (Smart Traveler App by U.S. Department of State). Photos by Wikimedia Commons. If you have a suggestion, critique, review or comment to this blog entry, we are looking forward to receive your e-mail at comment@wingsch.net. Please name the headline of the blog post to which your e-mail refers to in the subject line.




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