Demre (Kale) Turkey: Church of Saint Nicholas
About Saint Nicholas:
The real Saint Nicholas lived and died far from the north pole of the modern-day legend. Nicholas was born in nearby Patara, became a priest, rose to the rank of bishop, and did much of his good work here in the Roman town then called Myra.
Although the town is predominantly Muslim today, the Church of Saint Nicholas is the number one attraction here. It is quite the opposite of the snowy legend of the north pole, since the town is more noted for its palm trees and picturesque Mediterranean coast.
About the Church of Saint Nicholas:
The Church offers a glimpse back in to the early days of Christianity since it is well-preserved and has some beautiful mosaics. Excavations at the church have been ongoing since 2017, when experts identified the seventh- or eighth-century church as St. Nicholas’s final resting place. In 1087 AD, some Italian sailors broke into the church and stole his relics, since Turkey had become a Muslim country. They then transported his bones to Bari, Italy and some to Venice.
You will find many Russians visiting here, since Saint Nicholas is the patron saint of Russia. There is even a statue of Saint Nicholas in the square in front of the church that was donated by the Russian government in 2000.
Religious services are only held one day each year: December 6th, the Feast of Saint Nicholas. The first service of the day is presided over by the Greek Orthodox Metropolitan, then a service including Greek Orthodox, Protestant and Catholic clergy.
Also of interest in the town is a Roman amphitheater and nearby rock tombs that exceptionally well-preserved and date back to the Fifth Century B.C.
Traveling to the Shrine of Saint Nicholas in Antalya, Turkey:
The nearest major airport is in Antalya about 3 hours drive. There is some bus service from Antalya to Demre.
Address: Merkez, Demre (Kale)/Antalya, Turkey
GPS coordinates: (Approx.) 36° 14′ 48.2604” N, 29° 58′ 57.8100” E
There is no official website for the Church.