just dream about a holiday sleeping on deck, under a velvet, star filled sky, listening to the sea lap at the hull
...we can make it a reality for you."
St. Nicholas was a Bishop who lived in the fourth century AD in a place called Myra in Asia Minor (now called Turkey).
He was a very rich man because his parents died when he was young and left him a lot of money. He was also a very
kind man and had a reputation for helping the poor and giving secret gifts to people who needed it. There are several
legends about St. Nicholas, although we don't know if any of them are true!
|St. Nicholas Ikone from 1264
There was a poor man who had three daughters. He was so poor, he did not have enough money for a dowry, so his
daughters couldn't get married. (A dowry is a sum of money paid to the bridegroom by the brides parents on the
wedding day. This still happens in some countries, even today.) One night, Nicholas secretly dropped a bag of gold
down the chimney and into the house (This meant that the oldest daughter was then able to be married.). The bag
fell into a stocking that had been hung by the fire to dry! This was repeated later with the second daughter. Finally,
determined to discover the person who had given him the money, the father secretly hid by the fire every evening
until he caught Nicholas dropping in a bag of gold. Nicholas begged the man to not tell anyone what he had done,
because he did not want to bring attention to himself. But soon the news got out and when anyone received a secret
gift, it was thought that maybe it was from Nicholas.
Because of his kindness Nicholas was made a Saint. St. Nicholas is not only the saint of children but also of sailors!
One story tells of him helping some sailors that were caught in a dreadful storm off the coast of Turkey. The storm
was raging around them and all the men were terrified that their ship would sink beneath the giant waves. They
prayed to St. Nicholas to help them. Suddenly, he was standing on the deck before them. He ordered the sea to be
calm, the storm died away, and they were able to sail their ship safely to port.
St. Nicholas was exiled from Myra and later put in prison during the persecution by the Emperor Diocletian. No
one is really knows when he died, but it was on 6th December in either 345 or 352 AD. In 1807, his bones were stolen
from Turkey by some Italian merchant sailors. The bones are now kept in the Church named after him in the Italian
port of Bari. On St. Nicholas feast day (6th December), the sailors of Bari still carry his statue from the Cathedral
out to sea, so that he can bless the waters and so give them safe voyages throughout the year.
How St. Nicholas Became Santa Claus
In the 16th Century in Europe, the stories and traditions about St. Nicholas became very unpopular.
But someone had to deliver presents to children at Christmas, so in the U.K., he became 'Father Christmas', a character
from old children's stories; in France, he was then known as 'Père Nöel'; in Germany, the 'Nikolaus'.
In the early U.S.A. his name was 'Kris Kringle'. Later, Dutch settlers in the USA took the old stories of St. Nicholas
with them and Kris Kringle became 'Sinterklaas' or as we now say 'Santa Claus'!
Many countries, especially ones in Europe, celebrate St. Nicholas Day on 6th December. In Holland and some other
European Countries, children leave clogs or shoes out to be filled with presents. They also believe that if they
leave some hay and carrots in their shoes for Sinterklaas's horse, they will be left some sweets.
St. Nicholas became popular again in the Victorian era when writers, poets and artists rediscovered the old stories.
In 1823 the famous poem 'A Visit from St. Nicholas' or 'T'was the Night before Christmas', was published. Dr Clement
Clarke Moore later claimed that he had written it for his children. However, some scholars now believe that it
was actually written by Henry Livingston, Jr., who was a distant relative of Dr Moore's wife. The poem describes
eight reindeer and gives them their names. They became really well known in the song 'Rudolph the Red nosed Reindeer',
written in 1949. Do you know all eight names? Click on Rudolph's nose to find out!
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Located about 1 mile outside Demre, the ruins of
Myra include an amazing collection of tombs cut out of the cliffs above the city, all in the form of temple facades,
arranged in an asymmetric jumble. Most of them are 4th century BC, and many contain funeral scenes in relief. One
of these preserve a painted frieze showing the indoor and outdoor life of the man and his family with servants
in attendance and it is one of the most remarkable rock-tombs in Lycia.
Although the date of the foundation is unknown there are some Lycian inscriptions found in the area that indicate
that the settlement existed since the 5th century B.C.. Strabo counts it among the six notable cities of Lycia.
It still remained important during Roman times and after.
The huge late-Roman theater is one of the main attractions of Myra. It still preserves its double-vaulted corridors
and an inscription in a stall space that reads "place of the vendor Gelasius," where Gelasius would have
sold whatever the show viewers munched on as they watched the representation.
In early Christianity, 60 AD., St. Paul met with his followers here on his way to Rome. In the 2nd century A.D.
it became a diocese, and it was during that period that its theater was built. During the Byzantine period, Myra
maintained its role as a religious center.
In fact, Myra's fame rests on its 7th century A.D. bishop, St. Nicholas. His fame as a gift bringer derives from
the time when he heard of a bankrupt merchant who could find no dowry for his three daughters. Unseen, he thew
three bags of gold into the merchant's house down the chimney and by luck they fell into the girls stockings that
were drying by the fire. From this grew the legend of secret present giving and his eventual transformation into
Santa Claus. St. Nicholas was actually born in Patara but he was buried in Demre's church although his bones were
stolen in A.D. 1087 by sailors from Bari, Italy. However, the Venetians also claim to have the bones of the saint,
as do the Russians and the Antalya museum.
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St. Nicholas Church
Anno Domini, Antalya, Christmas, Church, Demre, Myra, Santa Klaus, St. Nicholas, Turkey
Konstantions Byzantine emperor (AD 337-361) period, the Bishop of Myra, St. Nicholas of Myra church `s living and
working in his place, the world of Christian pilgrims used to be the focus of attention these days the tourists.
Nicholas later became famous in its own time than the completed signs of children, sailors, merchants wrongfully
arrested and had become a saint. However, giving gifts to children in particular are known as Santa Klaus. According
to an anecdote told about the life of Nicholas of Myra by the bankruptcy of one of three outstanding citizens learned
of his daughter's dowry, even in the night unable to fall in this situation the person left his home secretly third
bag of gold, and thus an appropriate marriage of girls has provided patch. St. Nicholas is described in `a of his,
especially Christmas time because of this and similar stories, was believe to bring gifts to children. However,
Nicholas resurrection of the dead, the river water splitting into two, sailors and passengers calling at sea accident
rescue and restore the freedom of re-arrested the wrong place by entering the dreams of emperors such as many stories
describing the extraordinary powers are available. Anno Domini 4. 2nd century half of the church of St. Nicholas
died and was buried in his church in Myra, for centuries, so it `s beloved and respected and was considered to
be the tomb and commemorated with his name.
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History of Phaselis
Phaselis, located between the borders of Lycia and Pamphylia, was legendarily founded by colonists from Rhodes
in 690 BC. Because the land was not suitable for agriculture, Phaselitans excelled as great traders. They are supposed
to have bought the land in exchange for dried fish which led the emergence of a proverb "Phaselitan sacrifice"
to be used for cheap offerings.
Phaselis was overrun by the Persians in the 6C BC and freed in the 5C BC. They minted coins in the 5C BC which
show the bow of a ship on one side and the stern on the other. Phaselis proved its independence from Lycia by siding
with Mausolus, the satrap of Caria, in the 4C BC. When Alexander the Great came in 333 BC they offered him a golden
crown. This attitude showed Phaselitans’ reaction to authority. Phaselis was known as the most prominent port city
to the west of the Gulf of Antalya, until the city of Attaleia was founded in the 2C BC. In the 2C BC Phaselis
became part of the Lycian Federation, but in the 1C BC was overrun and plundered by Cilician pirates.
Their obsequious behavior showed itself upon Hadrian’s visit to Phaselis in the 2C AD when they built numerous
buildings and erected statues dedicated to him. In the 7C and 8C Phaselis flourished as a fleet base under Byzantium.
In the 12C it was inhabited by the Seljuk Turks until it was abandoned in the following century.
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The ancient city of Myra, located a few kilometers out of Demre, was one of the earliest Lycian cities. Myra was
renowned throughout centuries as the city where St. Nicholas had lived in the 4C AD.
History of Myra Although according to ancient sources the name of Myra
only goes back as early as 1C BC, the inscriptions or coins found imply that it must have been from the 5C BC.
Myra was always one of the most important cities in Lycia, and during the Hellenistic period was one of the six
cities in the Lycian League that had the maximum quota of three votes at meetings of the federation.
When St. Paul was being taken as a prisoner to Rome in 60 AD, his ship called at Myra.
In the Byzantine period Myra was a prominent city not only for religious reasons but also from an administrative
point of view. During the reign of Theodosius II Myra became the capital of Lycia. However, in the Turkish period
it was abandoned.
The Site The ruins consist mainly of a theater and some of the best examples of Lycian rock-cut
tombs. The rest of the city has not been excavated yet. The acropolis, as expected, is at the top of the hill.
The Roman Theater is well preserved. In the center of the two-meter-high wall (6.5 ft) backing the diazoma, near
the stairs leading to the upper rows is a figure of Tyche, the Goddess of fortune, with an inscription "Victory
and good fortune to the city beneath". The stage building, like in all Roman theaters, is very ornate.
The 4C BC Rock-cut Tombs, some with temple facades and beautifully carved reliefs representing the dead and their
families or warriors, are among the most fascinating remains of Anatolia. Inscriptions are usually in Lycian. These
house types are believed to have copied the dwellings of the early inhabitants of the region.
Climbing up the tombs is dangerous and not allowed.
St. Nicholas (c.300-350 AD)
Saint Nicholas was born in Patara and became the bishop of the Christian church of Myra, in Lycia, about whom little
is known with certainty. His reputation for generosity and compassion is best exemplified in the legend that relates
how Nicholas saved a poor man from a life of prostituting his three daughters. On three separate occasions the
bishop is said to have tossed a bag of gold through the family’s window, thus providing a dowry to procure for
each daughter an honorable marriage. The story provides the foundation for the custom, still practiced in many
countries, of giving gifts in celebration of the saint’s day, which was December 6. Saint Nicholas is the patron
saint of children and sailors. Variations of his name range from Sant Nikolaas to Sante Klaas to Santa Claus; he
is known as Father Christmas in England, Grandfather Frost in Russia, Pere Noel in France and Saint Nick in the
Noel Baba Kilisesi (The Church of St. Nicholas)
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St. Nicholas was buried in a tomb outside the city of Myra over which a chapel was subsequently erected. In the
6C it was replaced by a large church. This church is located in the town of Demre. The building was damaged by
the Arab raids then repaired and surrounded with walls by Constantine IX and the Empress Zoë in the 11C. At
the end of the 11C Italians from Bari stole the bones of St. Nicholas breaking his sarcophagus and built a famous
pilgrimage church over his mortal remains in Bari. Several relics of St. Nicholas such as fragments of his jawbone
and skull, are today kept in the Archeological Museum of Antalya. In the museum each year on December 6, the commemoration
day of the saint, the Turkish government sponsors a St. Nicholas symposium attended by both scholars and clerics.
On the same day a religious service is held in the church of St. Nicholas in Demre.
The church in Demre was restored a few times in the 19C and 20C. It has gained more popularity since 1950 because
of its association with Santa Claus. The church is preceded by an atrium and a double narthex. The walls were covered
with 11C and 12C frescoes fragments of which are still visible. The floor was decorated with mosaics of geometric
designs. In the apse of the central nave is the synthronon, semicircular rows of seats for the clergy, with a special
place for the bishop’s throne and a walkway underneath. The central nave is separated from the side aisles by arcades.
The roof was originally domed but covered with a vault during restorations.
The south aisle of the church, between two pillars and behind a broken marble screen, contains a damaged sarcophagus
in which St. Nicholas is thought to have been buried. The lid does not belong to the sarcophagus. Where St. Nicholas
was actually buried is still unknown. However, the processional way that led directly to the second south aisle
was perhaps intended for pilgrims visiting the tomb.
In the niches of aisles are a number of 2C AD Roman marble sarcophagi taken there from Myra and reused for the
entombment of church dignitaries. In the narthex there is a fresco depicting Deesis.
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Kekova is a name given to the most scenic area in Lycia along the Turquoise Coast. It covers a large area consisting
of Kekova Island, Kale (Castle) village and Ucagiz (the Three Mouths) village. Although there is a winding road
that reaches this area, it is easier and more pleasant to go there by boat which takes about two hours either from
Kas or Demre. A sunken city was formed by the submergence of ancient cities probably due to earthquakes. The Tersane
(shipyard) can still be seen on the shore of Kekova Island. Both the sunken city and the Tersane are thought to
be from either the Lycian or Byzantine period, but neither of them has been excavated. On a narrow section of the
western side of the island are the ruins of a Byzantine Church with its apse still visible.
The village of Kale has been identified as the Lycian town of Simena where there is still a settlement with stone
cottages mixed in with Lycian and Roman remains. A Lycian sarcophagus standing in the shallows of the harbor of
Simena is the most notable ruin. Other remains in the village are a 1C AD Roman baths complex, a medieval castle
with its walls still standing to their full height, a small theater carved out of rock for approximately 300 people,
cisterns and a necropolis with sarcophagi and rock-cut tombs out of the walls of the castle.
A Lycian sarcophagus in the shallows of Simena, Kekova
– Olu Deniz – – Gokkaya – Simena – Ucagiz – Myra – Olympos – Fethiye
Antalya (Kemer) – Adrasan – Myra – Gokkaya – Simena – Ucagiz
– Finike – Porto Genovese – Olympos – Phaselis – Antalya (Kemer)
Along the edge of the island facing the mainland lie the fascinating half-submerged remains of a Lycian sunken
city, and probably from Byzantine times later on. Signs warn against skin- diving, so you can not swim here because
many foreigners in the past took a piece of ancient relics with them as a souvenir. The boatman will allow the
passengers on board off for a swim further to the west, where the remains of a Byzantine chapel stand on the beach
and where further sunken remains can be explored at ease by the swimmer with mask and snorkel.
A fascinating Lycian necropolis, with chest-type tombs spread out along the coastline, lies at Teimiussa, near
the present-day Üçagiz on the mainland across from Kekova. This can also be reached by track from the
main road between Kas and Demre, where it is signposted. The boat-tripper may be content with a sea-born view and
pass to Kale, the ancient Simena, which sits nearby below the crenellated ramparts of an earlier hilltop Roman
The castle houses a small theater, cut into the rock, for just about 300 people, a sign that this was a minor settlement
in Roman times. Down in the harbor the turquoise sea laps at waterside restaurants offering good Turkish food including
locally caught fish. A lone Lycian sarcophagus standing in a few centimeters of water at the western side lures
visitors to pose beside it for photographs.
Today Kekova is a very popular anchorage for sailors who enjoy the history together with the nature.
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One may reach Kekova overland from Demre Çayagzi as well as in boats that you can rent at
Kas. After leaving Kekova you pass Kisneli Island and Asirli Island and come to Gökkaya harbor. Gökkaya
is a beautiful bay and a fine harbor. On the way is a big sea cave that was used at one time by pirates. From here
one comes to Çayagzi (Demre), also called Kokar bay, alongside of which are the ruins of Andreake. From
here, one may take a car to Myra, the city of St. Nicholas, which is quite close. This is
also a place from which one may visit other Lycian cities as Isinda at Belenli, Apollonia at Kilincli, Istlada
at Kapakli, Kyaenai at Yavu, and Trysa and Sura at Gölbasi. The area is also filled with thousands of Lycian
sarcophagi lying everywhere.
| Myra - Rock tombs
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Patara is one of the most beautiful, and longest, beaches in the Eastern Mediterranean, with
18km of deserted white sands. Nearby are the ruins of the Lycian city of the same name - a major harbour and trade
centre and the sanctuary of the God Appollo. Patara is renowned as the birthplace of St Nicholas, the bishop of
Myra, now known and loved in the west as Santa Claus.
Demre and Myra
are a little further inland. Demre is the modern-day site of the city of Myra, where St Nicholas (Santa Claus)
was bishop in the 4th century, and the ruins of which include a theatre dating from the 2nd century BC. Demre continues
to be overlooked by a spooky looking cliff face carved with many Lycian rock tombs.
These are just highlights! Turkey’s coastline has many places to explore: you’ll find it a seductive combination
of rugged mountain scenery with pine forests and azure waters, brilliant blue skies, endless sunshine and awe inspiring
legacies of an ancient past.
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Please note that this is only
a rough guide and can be varied to suite requirements. Also note that the route may vary slightly, depending on
weather conditions and time available, at the Captains discretion.
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