is situated on the newly completed coastal road from kas to Finike, 24 km
from Finike, in the region of Kale. After going through the small town of
Bucak, we continue on to the banks of the river Demre, 15 km from the
settlement. Leaving our car by the road, we cross the stream and through
the fields can be seen the distinctive Lycian rock tombs, with façades
almost like that of a multistoried apartment building, pierced with
Although the date of Myra's first foundation is not known, from some
Lycian inscriptions found in the area it would appear that the habitation
existed in the 5th century. Strabo counts it among the six notable cities
of Lycia. In the year 18 AD, the emperor Germanicus and his wife Agrippina
visited Myra, and in honor of this visit, the statues of both the emperor
and empress were erected in the harbor of the city, Andriache. In the
early years of Christianity in 60 AD, St Paul met with his followers here
on their way to Rome.
During the 2nd century AD Myra became a center of the diocese, and it was
during that period that its theater was built. The theater and its portico
were constructed by Licinus Lanfus of Oinoanda, to whom 10,000 dinars were
given for its completion. The renowned Opramoas of Rhodiapolis, whose hand
of patronage is to be seen in all the cities of Lycia, did not ignore this
city, donating great sums to its development. Another notable patron was
Jason of Kyaenai, through whose efforts the city was adorned with many
great buildings. During the Byzantine Period, Myra maintained its role as
a religious center. During the 4th century AD, St Nicholas of Patara,
later to be known as Santa Claus, was bishop of Myra. His tomb and a
church dedicated to him are to be found here.
The ruins of Myra are situated 5 km inland, between the modern town and
the sea. The acropolis of the city is situated on top of the cliffs
containing the Lycian rock tombs. The city walls, dating from the
Hellenistic and Roman Periods, are still to be seen protecting the
acropolis. The rock tombs cover the southern cliffs below the acropolis
like a sheet of lace. Apart from the tombs beside the theater, others are
to be seen on the river banks and in the surrounding cliffs.
Many of the tombs cut into the rock near the theater are damaged and much
worn, but some still have fine façades, with inscriptions and reliefs
clearly delineated. Two damaged tombs can be reached by a steep pathway.
Another tomb with reliefs on the northern face of the rock has been cut in
the form of a large sarcophagus. The owner of the tomb is seen buried here
together with his family. The reliefs show him first in his prime and
later as a corpse laid out on his heir with his family around him. The
tomb is dated to the 4th century BC.
To see the tombs more closely and in order to examine them in detail, we
can climb up to them via a flight of steps belonging to the theater, the
river flowing by below. The most interesting tomb in the necropolis has a
façade shaped like that of a temple. The façade contains two flanking
columns of the Ionian order with floriate capitals containing lion heads.
The architrave frieze contains a relief of a lion attacking a bull,
executed in a most convincing manner.
The theater is situated close to the rock tombs. It is in a relatively
good condition. The cavea has been carved into a slope out of the rock.
The galleries were supported at the sides with vaulting that was used both
for access to the upper galleries and also contained shops. Below the
diazoma were 29 rows of seats, and below them, 6 rows more. The scene is
still standing up to the second course in places and from the remaining
fragments, it would appear that the façade facing the audience was
In the town named Kale is situated St. Nicholas Church, who was from
Patara, and took office in Myra as the Bishop in the 4th century AD and
buried in this Church when he died, which was given his name. The town of
Myra and the Church were demolished during the Arabian raids in the 7th
and 9th centuries, and were totally destroyed in the naval raid made again
by the Arabs in 1034: Constantine Monomakhos IX and Zoe the empress had
made the Church reconstructed and also surrounded by walls. In 1087,
merchants coming from Bari had stolen the bones from the church which were
supposed to be belonging to St. Nicholas. This Church is the one built in
the 9th century and restored several times. It is understood that the
tombs belonging to the 2nd century AD were used again in the lower storey
of the Church.
You can see the frescoes situated on the abscissa and the naves of the
Church. Furthermore, the sitting places and columns reflect their restored
appearances. You can reach the upper storey of the Church by using the
stairs located at the side. The Church was subjected to another
restoration in recent past, and a statue of St. Nicholas was erected near
After the Church, you can see the mausoleum on the Myra-Kas road, dating
back to the 2nd century AD which probably belongs to a rich Lycian. Port
of Andriake, taking place in Çayagzi at a few km. distance from Kale, is
known as the port of Myra town, where the Hadrian Granarium (granary) with
dimensions of 36x45 m still stands erect.