Myra Ancient City, which is in today's Demre district center and its vicinity, was established on the plain of the same name. The city was connected to the sea with a convenient canal to the west of the Demre Stream. Sea transportation and trade of the region were carried out from Andriake Port on the other side of the channel. Myra ancient city is especially famous for the Lycian Period rock tombs, the RomanPeriod theater, and the Byzantine Period Saint Nicholas Church (Santa Claus).
The city of Myra started to exist from the 5th century BC. We can understand this from rock tombs, Lycian inscriptions, and coins. According to the information given by Strabo, Myra, one of the six largest cities of the Lycian Union, is called Myrrh in Lycian inscriptions.
According to Stephanos Byzantios, who prepared a comprehensive dictionary on the ethnic origins and locations of cities in ancient times, the name Myra was derived either from the Myros river passing near the city or from the word "myrrh," fragrant oil that is rubbed into the body in ancient Greek. Yet the original origin of his name is unclear. Myra, which is probably a modified form of a local word such asTlos and Patara, first appears in the coins minted by the Lycian Union(according to Strabon, it is a general justice board consisting of representatives of twenty-three cities in Lycia and where decisions are made regarding the administration of the region).
The 2nd century BC is the period when Myra witnessed great development. In the city, which is the Metropolis of the Lycian Union, many buildings were built and repaired with the help of the Lycian rich people. In the Byzantine Period, Myra became one of the leading cities in terms of religion and administration. It owes its fame, which reached today, to the fact that Saint Nicholas became the bishop of the city in the 4th century AD, and after his death, he reached the rank of a saint and built a church in his name.
After the 7th century, Myra lost its importance due to the earthquake, floods, the alluvium brought by the DemreStream, and the Arab raids. She turned into a village identity in the 12th century. Today's ruins are the theater on the acropolis' southern skirt and the rock tombs on both sides. According to the researches, it is possible to find Hellenistic city walls dating back to the 5th century BC and around the acropolis hill, apart from the Roman Period walls, which are in good condition today. Located on the acropolis's southern skirt, the theater reflects the characteristics of a well-preserved Roman Period theater, with both seating rows and stage building. The stage building stands up to half of the second floor. There are relief or flat rock tombs on both sides of the theater.
The relief tomb, which depicts the dead and their relatives, is one of the most interesting examples of the Myratombs, which are the best examples of Lycians' wooden house architecture. Besides, many rock tombs with reliefs or inscriptions are lined up or side-by-side on the rock's south-facing side. On the way to the city center near the theater, the ruins of the baths on the left of the road constitute early and interesting examples of Roman Period brick architecture.
The city's water requirement was provided by canals carved into the rock on the edge of the valley where Demre stream flows. Myra, one of the six cities with three voting rights in the Lycian Confederation, is known as the "brightest city," which shows its importance. In addition to the coins of the Lycian Confederation of Myra, it is of particular importance that Artemis, the mother goddess of the city, was represented in the form of Kybele, the oldest goddess of Anatolia. In the 5th century AD, Myra, the Lycian state's capital, was founded by St. Being the city where Paul and his friends' visit has special importance in Christianity.
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