Leading City of Lycian Civilization: Ancient City of Myra


The Ancient City of Myra was a leading city of the Lycian Civilization, built on the plain of the same name, within the borders of Demre district of Antalya . The city has a rich heritage and glorious history. It is ranked among the classics of Lycian culture by archaeologists, with its exquisite necropolis carved into the mountainside and its theater rising with surprising human touches.

The Ancient City of Myra, also known as the place where Goddess Kybele became Artemis, is especially famous for its Lycian Period rock tombs, Roman Period theater and Byzantine Period St. Nicholas Church . Known as the ‘brightest city’ in the region in ancient times, Myra was one of the six cities in the Lycian Confederation with three voting rights.

The town of Demre got its name from the big river that runs through it. Turning into the character of Santa Claus, St. Nicholas was the bishop of the city in the 4th century. In this town, formerly known as Kale, the Lycians built cities and built tombs on the walls of the mountains due to its soft calcareous structure.

There are numerous rock-cut tombs imitating temples with their columned facades and reliefs, the remains of a magnificent theater, one of the largest and most beautiful in Anatolia. Today, tourists from all over the world come to the ancient city of Myra to see this architectural wonder.

Myra Ancient City, Demre

Myra Ancient City is an ancient Lycian city located in the Demre district center of Antalya. Myra was founded on the sun-drenched slopes of the mountains that surround the present Demre plain from the northwest. The city, which was first established on the hill above the present-day rock tombs, later expanded by descending and became one of the 6 very important big cities of Lycia.

Strabo said that Myra was located on a high hill, 3.5 km from the sea. The ancient city of Myra, built on the plain with the same name as its own, is connected to Andriake, their port city, located in Çayağzı by a canal.

Thanks to the Demre Stream (Myros) flowing through the city, maritime trade developed, and it became a very bright Lycian city with its strong production-based economy and privileged political structure. However, since this caused pirates to easily raid the city, the Myrans tried to stop these raids by having their port chained to the mouth of the river in front of Andriake.

The name of Myra, which is famous as the place where St. Nicholas ( Santa Claus ) was bishop, means ‘Place of the Great Mother Goddess’. The once magnificent temple of the Goddess of Artemis Eleuthera was destroyed in the 4th century AD, during the time of St. Nicholas, who tried to remove all traces of Paganism from these lands.

Brutus, who killed the Roman Emperor Caesar in 42 BC, came to Lycia to gather soldiers. After taking Xanthos, the other powerful Lycian city of the region, he sent his commander to Myra to collect money. They broke into the city by breaking the chains tied in front of Andriake.

Germanicus, who was the adopted son of the second Roman Emperor Tiberius, who ascended the throne of the Roman Empire, visited Myra with his wife Agrippina in 18 AD and the Myranians erected their statues in Andriake.

Myra, the most famous of the Christian missionaries and considered one of the founders of St. It is considered holy by Christians because it is the city where Paul changed ships in Andriake on his way to Rome in 60 AD. Emperor of Eastern Rome II. The city, which was declared the capital of Lycia by Theodosius, was exalted with the title of Metropolis.

Myra has existed since the 5th century BC. The city started to be filled with earthquakes, floods and alluviums brought by the Myros Stream, starting from the 7th century. Due to the incursions from the south, it lost its population and lost its importance. The most important building in the city, St. Nicholas Church was destroyed in 1034 with the damage it received as a result of Arab raids.

Most of the ruins of the city, which belongs to the Lycian and Roman periods, remained under alluvial deposits. The ancient city of Myra, the crown jewel of peace and civilization with its religious buildings as an ancient center of belief, became a village in the 12th century.

No archaeological excavations have been carried out on the city, which is thought to be under the alluvium of the Demre Stream today. Burying the ruins of a magnificent ancient period under it, the Demre Stream delta forms one of the rare coastal plains on the Southwest Anatolian coast.

Among the ruins that have survived from the ancient city, which is an architectural wonder of the ancient period, are the theater located on the southern skirt of the acropolis and the rock tombs on both sides. On the top of the city, the most valuable treasure of Demre, are the city walls built in the Roman and Hellenistic periods.

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