Myra is situated on the newly completed coastal road from Kas
to Finike, 24 kms from Finike, in the region of Kale. After going
through the small town of Bucak, we continue on to the banks of the river Demre, 15 km
from the settlement. Leaving our car by the road, we cross the stream and through the
fields can be seen the distinctive Lycian
rock tombs, with facades
almost like that of a multi-storied apartment building, pierced with innumerable windows .
Although the date of Myra's first foundation is not known, from some
Lycian inscriptions found in the area it would appear that the habitation existed in the
5th century. Strabo counts it among the six notable cities of Lycia.
In the year 18 A.D., the emperor Germanicus and his wife Agrippina visited
Myra, and in honor of this visit, the statues of both the emperor and empress were erected
in the harbor of the city.
In the early years of Christianity in 60 A.D., St Paul met with his
followers here on their way to Rome. During the 2nd century A.D. Myra became a center of
the diocese, and it was during that period that its theater was built. The theater and its
portico were constructed by Licinus Lanfus of Oinoanda, to whom 10,000 dinars were given
for its completion. The renowned Opramoas of Rhodiapolis, whose hand of patronage is to be
seen in all the cities of Lycia, did not ignore this city, donating great sums to its
development. Another notable patron was Jason of Kyaenai, through whose efforts the city
was adorned with many great buildings.
During the Byzantine period, Myra maintained its
role as a religious center. During the 4th century A.D., St Nicholas of Patara, later to be known as Santa Claus, was bishop of Myra. His
tomb and a church dedicated to him are to be found here.
The ruins of Myra are situated 5 kms inland, between the
modern town and the sea. The acropolis of the city is situated on top of the cliffs
containing the Lycian rock tombs. The city walls, dating from the Hellenistic
and Roman periods, are still to be seen protecting the acropolis.
The rock tombs cover the southern cliffs below the acropolis like a sheet
of lace. Apart from the tombs beside the theater, others are to be seen on the river banks
and in the surrounding cliffs. Many of the tombs cut into the rock near the theater are
damaged and much worn, but some still have fine facades, with inscriptions and reliefs
clearly delineated. Two damaged tombs can be reached by a steep pathway. Another tomb with
reliefs on the northern face of the rock has been cut in the form of a large sarcophagus.
The owner of the tomb is seen buried here together with his family. The reliefs show him
first in his prime and later as a corpse laid out on his heir with his family around him.
The tomb is dated to the 4th century B.C.
To see the tombs more closely and in order to examine them in detail, we
can climb up to them via a flight of steps belonging to the theater, the river flowing by
below. The most interesting tomb in the necropolis has a facade shaped like that of a
temple. The facade contains two flanking columns of the Ionian order with floriate
capitals containing lion heads. The architrave frieze contains a relief of a lion
attacking a bull, executed in a most convincing manner.
The theater is situated close to the rock tombs. It is in a relatively
good condition. The cavea has been carved into a slope out of the rock. The galleries were
supported at the sides with vaulting that was used both for access to the upper galleries
and also contained shops. Below the diazoma were 29 rows of seats, and below them, six
The skene is still standing up to the second course in places and from the
remaining fragments, it would appear that the facade facing the audience was extremely