The Turquoise Coast Sights

St. Nicholas Basilica

  • Religious Building/Site/Shrine

Published 07/06/2016

Fodor's Review

The grave of Myra's famous 4th-century bishop—St. Nicholas (aka Santa Claus)—quickly became a pilgrimage site shortly after his death. A church was built around his tomb in the 6th century but later destroyed in an Arab raid. In 1043, St. Nicholas Basilica was rebuilt with the aid of the Byzantine emperor Constantine IX and the empress Zoë; it was, in turn, heavily restored in the 19th century courtesy of Russian noblemen. (To this day, most visitors to the church are Russian.) It's difficult to distinguish between parts of original church and the restorations, although the bell tower and upper story are clearly late additions. The colorful frescos are very evocative, and reminiscent of the early churches of Cappadocia. The reputed sarcophagus of St. Nicholas is in the southernmost aisle; however, his remains were stolen and taken to Bari, Italy, in 1087, where the church of San Nicola di Bari was built to house them. A few bones remained, so the story goes, and these can be seen in the Antalya Museum. A service is (theoretically, at least) held in the church every year on December 6, the feast day of St. Nicholas.

Sight Information

Address:

Near the center of Demre, a few blocks from the main square, Demre, Antalya, 07570, Turkey

Sight Details:

  • 15 TL
  • Daily: 8–7 in summer, 8–5 in winter

Published 07/06/2016

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