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Demre Antalya

Demre Antalya
Demre (officially known as Kale until renamed in 2005) is east of Yavu and has some of the more fascinating sites of Lycia, like the Church of St. Nicholas, the nearby ancient city of Myra, ancient harbour of Andriake and Apollo oracle at Sura. Demre itself is a small shabby town and although it has hotels and restaurants many choose to take day tours rather than stay there. Its main business is in growing tomatoes and citrus fruits. In the 5th century Emperor Theodosius II made Demre the capital of Lycia. St. Nicholas (Santa Claus or Noel Baba in Turkish), born in Patara in the late 3rd century AD was later chosen to be the bishop of Myra. 

Places to Visit in Demre

Church of St. Nicholas

The Church of St. Nicholas, in the centre of Demre, remains reminiscent of the life and times of its patron saint. Although many stories and miracles are attributed to St. Nicholas very little is known about him. He gained the name Santa Claus because of his reputation for giving away secret gifts, he would put coins in shoes left out for him and leave purses of gold to girls with no dowry enabling them find husbands and not have to enter into prostitution. It was also established that he was buried in the church but in 1087 half of his bones were removed by devout Italian thieves and taken to Bari in Italy and the remainder removed in 1100 and taken to Venice. On 6th December, the Saint’s feast day, a special mass is held in the church.

The church was originally built in the 4th century and rebuilt in 1043 by Constantine IX after its destruction by the Saracens.
The current church today has little in common with the original and was renovated by Russian Tsar Nicholas I in 1862, when the addition of the vaulted ceiling and belfry were added, which were unheard of in early Byzantine architecture. Inside are a bishop’s throne, a rare sight in Turkish medieval buildings as they were removed when such churches became mosques, frescoes that were recently renovated, the best situated in the dome of the north transept and geometric designed mosaic floor panels decorate the nave and south aisle.
Buses and dolmus go to the central otogar.


Myra one of the most visited of Lycian sites is a 2km walk or drive north of Demre town centre. Although much of the ancient site is still buried some of the best examples of house style rock tombs in Lycia are to be seen here, the two main groups of which are above the theatre and at the river necropolis on the east side. Most of the tombs are from the 4th century BC, and many contain funeral scenes in relief, some of which portray the daily life of the deceased. One of the most striking is known as “The Painted Tomb” showing a group of eleven life-size figures presumed to be the same family.

Andriake and Hadrian's Granary

Andriake built on the banks of the ancient river of Androkos, was the site of Hadrian’s Granary. The granary, not only crucial to Myra but the whole Roman World as its contents were sent to Rome and the rest of the empire. Built by Hadrian between 119 and 139 AD and similar to the one at Patara, has eight rooms built with square cut blocks and the outer walls remain at their original height. Above the central gate are busts of Hadrian and the Empress Sabina who was said to be his wife.

Beaches in Demre


Cayagzi , a working fishing port and active boatyard, has a short, broad sandy beach with dunes that has few snack bars operating there. Boat tours run from here to Kekova Island .


Suluklu, although a more exposed bay, the cleaner water and beach offers much better swimming with its 700m of sand and has a few simple restaurants.


Demre’s “town beach” at Tasdibi on the other side of the headland, although more sheltered is made of coarse pebbles.  

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