St. Nicholas Church, Demre

St. Nicholas Church is an ancient Byzantine Church located in modern-day town of Demre, Antalya Province, Turkey. Its usage is dated between 5th-12th centuries. It is notable for being the burial place of St. Nicholas of Myra, a 4th-century Christian bishop of the ancient city of Myra, an important religious figure for Eastern Orthodox Christians and Roman Catholics and the historical inspiration for Santa Claus.[1] The Church is on UNESCO's tentative list to become a World Heritage Site.[2]


The church was built in AD 520 on the foundations of an older Christian church where Saint Nicholas served as a bishop. Over time the church was flooded, filled with silt, and buried. In 1862 it was restored by Russian Tzar Nicholas I, who added a tower and made other changes to its Byzantine architecture. The church is regarded as the 3rd most important Byzantine structure in Anatolia. It is noted for its remarkable wall frescos, and its architectural and religious significance. The northeast annex arcade contains the only example of St Nicholas's life cycle as well.[3]

Archaeological excavations

Archaeological excavations in the Church started in 1988 directed by Prof. S. Yıldız Ötüken of Hacettepe University, Ankara, Turkey. The work has revealed some of the northern section of the monastery complex, and also the small chapels around the nave, one of which notably contains vibrant frescoes detailing the life and miracles of the saint, and a desecrated sarcophagus which is thought to be the original burial place from which his remains were forcibly translated to Bari in 1087.[4]


The Orthodox Liturgy is occasionally celebrated in the church on 6 December.

See also


  1. "St. Nicholas Center ::: Demre Statues". Retrieved 2016-02-07.
  2. "St. Nicholas Church". UNESCO. Retrieved 26 November 2016.
  3. "St. Nicholas Center ::: Demre Statues". Retrieved 2016-02-07.
  4. For the story of the translation of the bones see: Charles W. Jones, "Saint Nikolaos of Myra, Bari, and Manhattan: Biography of a Legend" (Chicago: University of Chicago Press) 1978, ISBN 978-0-226-40700-5, pp. 176-193.

Coordinates: 36°14′41.36″N 29°59′7.25″E / 36.2448222°N 29.9853472°E / 36.2448222; 29.9853472

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