Sunday, October 01, 2006

MYRA (Turkey) THE TOWN OF ST. NICHOLAS

Our last day of our round trip through Turkey, we spent in Myra the town of St. Nicholas. The one who today is known as Santa Claus or even Father Christmas. I didn't know that he lived in Turkey ! And his story is not very romantic either.

Saint Nicholas also called Nikolaos of Myra, was a historic 4th-century saint and Greek Bishop of Myra (Demre, part of modern-day Turkey) in Lycia, born on 6 December 270 – 343 He was the only son of wealthy Christian parents. His  parents died in an epidemic while Nicholas was still young and he was raised by his uncle—also named Nicholas—who was the bishop of Patara.

Saint Nicholas church fell into ruins after his death and only in 1863 Czar Alexander II of Russia bought the building and started to have it restored, but the work was never finished. The floor of the church is made in mosaic of coloured marble, very beautiful and there are also some remains of wall-paintings. A Greek marble sarcophagus had been made to bury the Saint, but his bones were stolen in 1087 by merchants from Bari (Italy), and now held in the cathedral of that city. The sarcophagus in Myra is empty. The Bari merchants only collected just half of Nicholas' skeleton, leaving all the minor fragments in the grave. These were collected by Venetian sailors during the first crusade and brought to Venice, where a church to St. Nicholas, the patron of sailors, was built on the Lido. This tradition was confirmed in two scientific investigations of the relics in Bari and Venice, which revealed that the relics in the two cities belong to the same skeleton.

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The real St. Claus

and what is left of his church !



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Entrance of the church


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Beautiful mosaic




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The sarcophagus of St. Nicolaus

There are many orthodox christian pilgrims coming here and we saw a whole group praying in front of the sarcophagus




another quiet well preserved corner



the rest of the church is in a rather sad state !



at least  two souls watching over St.Claus, they live in the church.




outside the church a statue of Saint Nicholas



and the "new" Santa Claus turning his back to the church.

You can read the whole story of Saint Nicholas here

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I love painting, writing, travelling and photography. My favorit models are my four cats which I observe with fun and humor. I am German, married to an Italian and we live in Waterloo (15 km from Brussels) / Belgium since many years. Waterloo is a famous place to many tourists, because Napoleon lost his battle here against Wellington and other European countries.

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