Guide to Ancient City of Myra in Turkey

The ancient city of Demre Mira can truly be called the pearl of Turkey. This unique area, preserving the great buildings of antiquity and reflecting the rich history of the country, is of undoubted popularity among travelers. In addition, here is located and the most valuable Christian monument – the Church of St. Nicholas. Therefore, if you are going on vacation to Turkey, be sure to include Demre Mira in your list of must-see attractions. Well, what kind of city it is and how to get to it, the information from our article will tell you.

The ancient city of Demre Mira

General information

City Demre

The small town of Demre with an area of ​​471 square meters. km spread out in the south-west of Turkey. It is located 150 km from Antalya and 157 km from Fethiye. The population of Demre does not exceed 26 thousand people. Its distance from the Mediterranean coast is 5 km. Until 2005, this city was called Kale, and today it is often called Mira, which is not entirely true. After all, Mira is an ancient city (or rather ruins), which is located near Demre.

Today Demre in Turkey is a modern tourist resort, where they come primarily for history and knowledge, and not for beach vacations, although travelers quite manage to combine these two events. As with the entire Mediterranean coast, this area is characterized by a warm climate, in which summer temperatures range from 30-40 ° C.

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The ruins of the old world

The Demre district is a unique combination of traces of ancient civilization, breathtaking mountain landscapes and azure sea waters.

Antique World has become its pearl, where in high season numerous excursion buses arrive every day, collecting tourists from all over the resort of Turkey.

The ancient city of the world

What is so unique and attractive to the ancient World in Turkey? To answer this question, it is important to familiarize yourself with the history of the city and explore its attractions.

Historical reference

At the moment, there are several versions of the origin of the name “World”. The first option assumes that the name of the city comes from the word “myrrh”, meaning the resin from which church incense was made. The second version says that the name is associated with the ancient Lycian language, from which the “world” is translated as the city of the sun.

The capital of ancient Lycia is Peace

It is impossible to name the exact period of the city’s formation, but it is known that the first mention of the World dates back to the 4th century BC. Then it was part of a prosperous Lycian state and even at one time acted as its capital. During this same period, unique structures were erected in the city, a visit to which is today so popular among tourists. And although many structures were damaged as a result of an earthquake that occurred in the 2nd century AD, the Lycians managed to completely restore them.

Statue of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker
Statue of Nicholas the Wonderworker

During the heyday of the Roman Empire, the Lycian Union was attacked by the Roman army, and as a result its territory came under the rule of the Romans. With their arrival, Christianity began to spread here. It was in the World that Nikolai the Miracle Worker began his career, having occupied the post of city bishop for more than four decades in the 4th century. In his honor, the church of St. Nicholas was built in Demre, which anyone can visit today.

Until the 9th century, the ancient World remained a thriving Roman city and religious center, but the Arabs soon descended and subjugated these lands to their power. And in the 12th century, the Seljuks (the Turkic people, which subsequently mixed with the Turkish Ottomans) visited here and captured the Lycian territories, including the World.

Sights of the ancient World

The city of Demre in Turkey is visited in order to see the famous Lycian tombs and the huge amphitheater that are located in the World. Let’s look at each attraction in more detail.

Lycian tombs
Lycian Tombs in the World

The northwestern slope of the mountain framing Demre has become the abode for the famous ruins of the Lycian tombs. The object is a wall with a height of more than 200 meters, erected from cyclopean stone blocks, where numerous ancient tombs are located. Some of them are built in the shape of houses, others go deep into the cliffs and have door and window openings. Many tombs are over 2000 years old.

Rock tombs

Lycians believed that after death a person flies away to heaven. And therefore, they believed that the higher the burial was made from the earth, the faster the soul would be able to go to heaven. As a rule, noble and wealthy people were buried at the very top, and tombs for the less affluent inhabitants of Lycia were arranged below. Until today, this monument keeps intricate Lycian inscriptions, the meaning of many of which remains a mystery.

Amphitheater of Peace

Not far from the tombs, there is another ancient structure – the Greco-Roman amphitheater, which was built in the 4th century AD. Before the Romans came to Lycia, the Greeks ruled on its territory and it was they who erected this classic theater building. Over the course of its history, the structure has been destroyed more than once by natural elements, like an earthquake or flood, but it has always been rebuilt. When the state was conquered by the Romans, they made their changes to the building of the amphitheater, and that is why today it is considered Greco-Roman.

Amphitheater benches

The theater is designed for 10 thousand spectators. In ancient times, grandiose theatrical performances and gladiatorial fights were held here. The building has preserved so excellent acoustics that it is even possible to hear a whisper from the stage. Today, the amphitheater has become a favorite attraction of the ancient World.

Useful information

  1. You can visit the ancient ruins in the World daily from 9:00 to 19:00.
  2. An entrance ticket to the territory of the historical complex costs $ 6.5 per person.
  3. The cost of parking in the parking lot at the attraction is $ 1.5.
  4. The ancient city is located 1.4 km northeast of Demre.
  5. Icon shop
  6. You can get here either by public transport – traveling dolmushe, following the direction of Demre Mira, or by taxi.
  7. Near the attraction there are several souvenir shops, cafes and eateries.
  8. The minimum price for renting a double room in the city center per day varies between $ 40-45.

Prices on the page are for March 2018.

Church of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker

Church of St. Nicholas and his statue (left) under a canopy

In the period from 300 to 343 years. The chief bishop of Mira was St. Nicholas, who is also called the Miracle Worker or the Pleasant. First of all, he is known as a mediator of enemies, the patron of innocently convicted, the protector of sailors and children. According to ancient scriptures, Nikolai the Wonderworker, who once lived on the territory of modern Demre, secretly brought gifts to children for Christmas. That is why it became the prototype of the Santa Claus we all know.

Sarcophagus of St. Nicholas

After death, the bishop’s remains were buried in the Roman sarcophagus, which was placed in a specially rebuilt church for better preservation. In the 11th century, part of the relics was stolen by Italian merchants and taken to Italy, but they could not take all the remains. Over the centuries, the temple went underground to a depth of more than 4 meters and was excavated by archaeologists only after centuries.

Ancient frescoes in the church of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker

Today, any traveler can honor the memory of the Saint by visiting the temple of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker in Demre in Turkey. The most important attraction of the church is the sarcophagus of St. Nicholas, where previously part of its relics were stored, which was subsequently transferred to the Antalya Museum. Also in the temple you can admire the ancient frescoes. Tourists who have been here note that the church is in a state of disrepair and needs early reconstruction. But while the question of restoration remains open.

  • You can visit the Church of St. Nicholas in Demre in Turkey daily from 9:00 to 19:00 in high season. In the period from November to March, the object is open from 8:00 to 17:00.
  • The cost of admission to the church is $ 5. Children under 12 years pass free of charge.

Near the church there are several shops where you can buy icons, crosses and other goods.

How to get to Demre from Antalya

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Antalya Main Bus Station - Otogar
Bus station Otogar

If you decide to visit the World in Turkey, having independently left Antalya, then you have only two options to get to the city:

  • By intercity bus. To do this, you need to come to the main bus station of Antalya (Otogar) and buy a ticket to Demre. Travel time will be about two and a half hours. The bus will arrive at the bus station in Demre, located next to the Church of St. Nicholas.
  • On a rented car. Follow the D 400 highway from Antalya, which will lead you to your destination.
Group tour

If an independent tour to Mira is not your option, then you can always go to the city with a group tour. Almost all travel agencies offer the Demre-Mira-Kekova tour, during which you visit the ancient city, church and the sunken ruins of Kekov. The cost of the tour will cost no less than $ 50 from a hotel guide, and 15-20% cheaper than this price in local Turkish offices.

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The ancient city of Demre Mira, of course, is one of the most valuable historical monuments in Turkey. He will be curious even to those who have never been interested in ancient buildings. Therefore, being in the country, do not spare your time and visit this unique complex.

Video from an excursion to the ancient city of the World.

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