Located in the picturesque Demre district of Antalya, a place full of history and rich in ancient tales, the iconic St. Nicholas Church is a place that attracts believers and history lovers alike.
Often affectionately referred to as both Saint Nicholas and Santa Klaus, this venerable building transcends its architectural splendor and carries within its walls a deep legacy that stretches far beyond the confines of time.
Let’s dive deep into the Church of St. Nicholas together.
St. Nicholas Church
The Church of St. Nicholas in Demre, Antalya is really impressive with its reliefs and wall paintings. You will feel at peace in the church.
Let’s look at the historical details about the Church of St. Nicholas;
According to the archaeological excavations and research carried out in the Church of St. Nicholas after the second half of the 20th century, it was determined that the building had many construction phases.
The first phase of the church is dated to the 6th century according to historical events, plan type, and material-technical analysis. It is thought that it was built in a basilica plan near the burial place of the saint or an existing structure was repaired during the reign of Emperor Justinian I (527-565), probably during the great earthquake in 529.
The church, which was damaged by the earthquake of 8-9 magnitude and the Arab raids, was destroyed and today’s church was built in the Domed Basilica plan type.
In an inscription dated September 1, 1042, in the city, Emperor IX. It is reported that Konstantinos Monomakhos (1042-1055) and his wife Zoe repaired a building.
It is thought that the additional structures of the church, which was part of a monastery establishment in the Middle Ages, and the Episkopeion (Episcopal Residence) were built during this period.
At the same time, the church was equipped with monumental wall paintings in the Inner Narthex and floor coverings in the Opus Sectile technique.
Studies 12-13. It has been revealed that the construction activities in the church and the buildings continued to be decorated with wall paintings for centuries.
In the South Burial Chamber, there are wall paintings featuring scenes from the cycle of St. Nicholas. Scenes, single figures, on the Passion of Jesus and the life of Mary (Apocryph); In the basilica, the northern annexes and the southeast chapels contain scenes from the Bible and the Torah, as well as some geometric vegetal decorations and symbolic motifs.
In the second half of the 13th century, the city was under an alluvial fill of 2-3 meters due to the flood disaster that occurred as a result of the flooding of the Myros Stream, which surrounded the settlement from the northeast.
For this reason, the Medieval floor is located approximately 5-6 meters below the present soil level. The results of the excavations carried out in the church in 2022 revealed new and important findings about the construction phases and history of the church.
If you are on your way to Antalya or even Kas, you should definitely stop by the Church of St. Nicholas in Demre.
St. Nicholas Church Working Hours
Working Hours of St. Nicholas Church in Demre, Antalya are between 08:30 and 20:00. The box office closing time is 19:30.
St. Nicholas Church Entrance Fee
St. Nicholas Museum
Born in Patara, an important city of Lycia, St. Nicholas served as a bishop in the ancient city of Myra during the reign of Constantine I (306-337).
Mira, II. It was declared the metropolis of the Lycian region during the reign of Theodosius (408-450) and maintained this position until the 15th century. According to sources, the saint’s tomb became an important cult center in the 6th century.
In the Middle Ages, pilgrims who wanted to be healed by visiting the holy relics of the saint reached Myra by using land and sea routes.
While offering donations and offerings to the holy tomb of the saint, they touched the relics preserved in myrrh and took the holy oil with them.
Revered in Freiburg in Germany, Bari, and Naples in Italy, and the entire island of Sicily, Saint Nicholas is referred to as Santa Klaus in Dutch and English and is therefore considered one of the saints. He is counted as one of the saints who loved and protected New York in America.
The tradition of Santa Claus, who is the protector and joy of children in the northern countries of Europe, became integrated with the belief of St. Nicholas and led to the formation of a semi-religious and quite popular myth type.
Due to the respect of St. Nicholas and especially the Eastern Mediterranean sailors, it has become a tradition to wish “St. Nicholas to take the helm” while boarding the ships, while his picture or icon is hung on all boats, large and small.
Italian sailors who visited Myra during the Crusades in 1087 carried the holy relics of the saint to Bari.
On the other hand, the “St. Nicholas Memorial Museum” still hosts thousands of visitors who come to see the monumental structure, find healing, and pray.
St. Nicholas Church FAQ
Let’s take a look at some useful questions about the Church of St. Nicholas.
Where is the Church of Saint Nicholas located?
The Church of Saint Nicholas is located in Demre, a town in the Antalya Province of Turkey. It is situated near the ancient city of Myra.
What is the historical significance of the Church of Saint Nicholas?
The Church of Saint Nicholas holds historical significance as a place of worship dedicated to Saint Nicholas, a revered Christian saint known for his acts of generosity and kindness. It dates back to the 4th century AD.
What architectural features can be found in the Church of Saint Nicholas?
The church features distinctive architectural elements including domes, frescoes, and intricate carvings that showcase its historical and cultural importance.
Why is Saint Nicholas important in Christianity?
Saint Nicholas, also known as Nicholas of Myra, is important in Christianity for his reputation as a protector, patron saint of children, and giver of gifts. His selfless acts of charity have inspired many traditions.
Is the Church of Saint Nicholas still in use for religious services?
While the Church of Saint Nicholas is not used for regular religious services, it remains a site of pilgrimage and historical significance. Occasional services may still take place there.
How has the Church of Saint Nicholas influenced Christmas traditions?
The Church of Saint Nicholas and the stories surrounding him have contributed to the development of modern Christmas traditions, including the concept of Santa Claus and the tradition of gift-giving.
Can visitors enter the Church of Saint Nicholas?
Yes, visitors can enter the Church of Saint Nicholas. However, due to its historical importance and preservation efforts, certain areas may be restricted, and respectful behavior is encouraged.
Is the Church of Saint Nicholas a UNESCO World Heritage site?
Yes, the Church of Saint Nicholas in Myra has been recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site, underscoring its cultural and historical value.
How can I get to the Church of Saint Nicholas?
The Church of Saint Nicholas is located in Demre, Turkey. Visitors can reach Demre by various means of transportation, including buses and private vehicles.
What is the connection between Saint Nicholas and Santa Claus?
The modern figure of Santa Claus has its origins in the stories and traditions surrounding Saint Nicholas. Over time, Saint Nicholas’s reputation for gift-giving evolved into the iconic character of Santa Claus celebrated during the Christmas season.