Visit the Church of St. Nicholas: History, Access & Tips

Last Updated by Ezgi on August 2, 2021
St Nicholaos of Myra in Antalya in Turkey

If you enjoy history, you should consider paying a visit to the St. Nicholas Church in Demre. 

The town's international reputation stems from the fact that this the place where Saint Nicholas of Myra lived and served as a bishop. 

In this article, you will find information and tips about St. Nicholas Church that serves as a museum today, including access, history, tickets, and more...

Dome of St Nicholaos Church in Demre in Antalya in Turkey

What Can I Do at St. Nicholas Church?

St. Nicholas was born in the ancient city Patara in the Antalya province during the reign of the Roman Empire. 

He famously became the bishop of Myra. Nicholas was loved by the people of Myra as a very kind person who helped the poor, sailors, and children throughout his life.

When he died in 343, he was placed in a church bearing his name that was constructed in the 3rd or 4th century. 

Some historians say that during the Crusades, a group of sailors who came to Demre from Bari in 1087, opened his tomb and took his bones to Bari in Italy for protection.

A cathedral was built at his grave, in his memory.

Sarcophagus of Nicholas of Myra in Demre in Antalya in Turkey

The Sarcophagus of Nicholas of Myra

The sarcophagus of St. Nicholas, which was damaged by sailors from Bari, can be seen in one of the side apses of the church and is decorated with fish scales and acanthus leaves.

The bone fragments, which were believed to belong to St. Nicholas that were not taken to Bari, are exhibited in the Antalya Museum today.

In the church of St. Nicholas there are three small chapels, instead of a diaconicon place with liturgical function in the south of the berna.

Miracles are painted on the walls of the church, which was renovated duing various periods. The scene, "Communion of the Apostles," is on one of the frescoes in the dome. 

The large scale and richness of St. Nicholas Church also supports Myra's role as a center, that affects the whole urban structure.

Every year on December 6, the day of St. Nicholas' death, gatherings for a Call for World Peace and St. Nicholas are organized here in this church. Numerous people of the Christian faith, especially the Orthodox Christian faith, attend these religious ceremonies. 

Entrance of St Nicholaos Church in Demre in Antalya in Turkey

Entrance, Tickets, and Tours

  • Entrance: St. Nicholas Museum is open every day and accepts visitors between 08:00 -19:00 from April 1 to October, and from October 1 and April 1 between 08:30-17:30.
  • Tickets: A ticket for the St. Nicholas Museum is 50 TL. If you have a Museum Pass, you can visit this historical ancient city free of charge. Check out our shop to get your Museum Pass.
  • Guided Tour: Tours of St. Nicholas Church in combination with the ruins of Myra are offered throughout the Antalya province and in the neighboring Fethiye district in the Muğla province. 
  • Tip: To book amusement parks, museums, and tour tickets in advance of your trip to the Antalya region, don't hesitate to check out the deals in our official shop.

How to Get to St. Nicholas Church

St. Nicholas Church is located on the Lycian Coast in the Demre district between Kaş and Finike in Antalya. 

  • Public Transportation: It is possible to get here with buses or minibuses departing from Antalya City Center. The ride from Antalya takes 2 to 4 hours. Depending on the place of departure you may have to change buses several times. Therefore, we recommend going from Kaş to Demre with public transport to get to St. Nicholas Church. 
  • Rental Car: The D400 highway follows the Turkish south coast. This highway connects all resort towns. Therefore, it is easy to drive to Demre, which is also located along a scenic part of the D400 highway along the Lycian Coast. 
Frescoes in St Nicholaos Church in Demre in Antalya in Turkey

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

Where is St. Nicholas Church?

St. Nicholas Church is located in the Demre district between Kaş and Finike in Antalya.

How much is the entrance for St. Nicholas Museum in Demre?

A ticket for St. Nicholas Museum is 50 TL. If you have a Museum Pass, you can visit free of charge.

How can I get to St. Nicholas Museum in Demre?

Public Transportation: It is possible to get here with buses or minibuses departing from Antalya City Center. The ride from Antalya takes 2 to 4 hours. Depending on the place of departure, you may have to change buses several times. Therefore, we recommend going from Kaş to Demre with public transport to get to St. Nicholas Church.  

Who was St. Nicholas of Myra?

St. Nicholas was born in the city of Patara, which hosted the Senate House of the Lycian League, in 300 AD as a son of a wealthy wheat merchant. He is considered to be the patron saint of children and sailors. He became the bishop of Myra in Demre and died in 365.

St Nicholaos Myra Church in Demre in Antalya in Turkey

The History of St. Nicholas Church

St. Nicholas was born in the city of Patara (read about the ancient city of Patara), which hosted the Senate House of the Lycian League, in 300 AD as a son of a wealthy wheat merchant. He is considered to be the patron saint of children and sailors. He became the bishop of Myra in Demre and died in 365. His bones were stolen by merchants from Bari, and then buried in a basilica built in his name there.

The basilica in Myra was heavily damaged in the 8th century as a result of earthquakes and raids on the city, and was rebuilt as a domed church in the 9th century.

Later additions took place during the Middle Byzantine period in the 11th century. The most important repair of this period was made in 1042 by Emperor Konstantin IX and his wife Zoe. Most of the wall frescoes and floor mosaics came from this period.

Russian Tsar, Nicholas I, completed another comprehensive repair of the church in 1862, which was destroyed for various reasons over the centuries. The bell tower and the new central dome additions were part of this restoration, which deviated from the original plan.

There were many buildings built at different times on the original foundations of the current church. Thus, the church looks like a complex built in various periods.

Get more information about other important historical monuments in Antalya on our dedicated page.

Contact

  • Address: Merkez Mahallesi, Demre/Antalya
  • Opening Hours: Everyday, 08:00 -19:00 in the summer and between 08:30-17:30 in winter.
  • Public Transport: bus, minibus

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