St. Nicholas Church: Known for Santa Claus in Demre

In the town of Demre (formerly Myra) in Antalya, there is the Church of St. Nicholas, built after the death of St. Nicholaos. St. Nicholaos was born in the 3rd century AD in the ancient city of Patara and served as a bishop in Myra. Nicholaos, who was a respected personality in many countries of Europe, especially in the former Russian Tsardom, received the title of saint after his death and became known as St. Nicholaos.

Nicholaos was born in 300 AD in Patara, one of the important port cities of Lycia, at a time when the city was doing well and lived there until he became the bishop of Myra. Nicholaos, the heir of his merchant father, chose to share his wealth with the poor.

In Patara, he throws a bag of gold from the window of one of the 3 sisters who are of marriageable age but cannot prepare their dowries due to poverty.

In the following days, Nicholaos, who secretly wants to help the other girls with money, sees that the windows are closed and jumps out of the chimney. This is how the story of Santa Claus begins. The whole world knows St. Nicholas as Santa Claus.

Noel Baba Muzesi Tabelasi
Noel Baba Muzesi Gezisi

Santa Claus, known as Santa Klaus in the Dutch and English languages, is thought to have died on December 6, 343 at the age of 65 and his bones were placed in a sarcophagus in the Church of Santa Claus built by the people of Myra.

St. Nicholas, the protector of children, travelers and the poor, was also the protector of the seas. The fish scale patterns on his sarcophagus are also for this reason. During the Crusades, merchants from Bari stole the bones of St. Nicholas, took them back to their own country and buried them there.

The few bones that were left behind and thought to belong to St. Nicholas are now preserved in the Antalya Museum.

At the end of the stone paved road at the entrance of the museum, a dark colored statue welcomes you. The statue that all Christians take a photo with is St. Nicholas himself.

Aziz Nikolas Heykeli
Nikolas Kilisesi Mermer Lahit

Perhaps what makes the Church of St. Nicholas, also known as the Santa Claus Museum, so attractive is the sarcophagus inside. On the marble block above the sarcophagus, there is an inscription written in the old Russian cyrillic alphabet, which is no longer in use.

O measure of faith and symbol of humility. O teacher of government, you tell the truth of things to your people. For this you have made yourself great in humility and rich in poverty. O holy Nicholas our father, pray to Jesus Christ for the salvation of our souls.

On the walls and floors inside the church are mosaics, murals and icons of St. Nicholas, sometimes alone and sometimes with holy people. In many parts of the world there are churches dedicated to the patron Saint Nicholas. In these churches, Christians commemorate the feast day of St. Nicholas every year on the 6th day of December.

Aziz Nikolas Freski
Noelbaba Nikolas Kilisesi

Santa Claus Museum, also known as St. Nicholas Church, is 28 km from Finike, 48 km from Kaş and 2.5 km from Myra Rock Tombs. It is very easy to reach, the signs direct you from the highway.