Restoration works of St. Nicholas Church, one of the holy places of the Christian world in the Demre district of Antalya, have been completed. The church, built in the name of St. Nicholas, who devoted his life to doing good, shared his possessions with the poor and became a legend by secretly leaving gifts from windows or chimneys and inspired Santa Claus, is awaiting its visitors with its historical atmosphere.
Speaking at the opening of the restored St. Nicholas Church, Turkish Minister of Culture and Tourism Mehmet Nuri Ersoy said, “After completing the restoration and landscaping work, today, we are reopening the Church of St. Nicholas. This church, one of the most outstanding works of Eastern Roman art with its architecture and decorations, has great value for the Christian world. St. Nicholas is considered one of the most respected leaders of Christianity. We can understand this because the Santa Claus tradition, which has spread to the whole Christian world from Northern European countries, is based on St. Nicholas. We carried out our restoration works carefully in light of all this information. In this way, the Church of St. Nicholas will continue to host its visitors in the years to come.”
Saint Nicholas spent his life in Demre…
Saint Nicholas, also known today as Santa Claus and the international symbol of Christmas, is considered one of the most respected leaders of Christianity. It is known that St. Nicholas, who was born in Patara, the ancient region of Antalya, spent his life in Demre. Becoming the bishop of Myra on the borders of Demre was one of the turning points of St. Nicholas’s life, who grew up as the son of a wealthy wheat merchant. Because in those years, Myra was the capital of the Lycian State, and the bishop who served here was considered Anatolia’s second-largest religious authority. Known for helping those in need throughout his life, St. Nicholas is also famous for the miracles he performed. Nikolaos, also known as the ;Saint of Miracles;for this reason, died in the church where he was the bishop in Myra. After his death on December 6, 365 AD, the people of Myra built a monument and then a large basilica in the name of the Saint. This basilica, on the walls of which the miracles believed to be performed by St. Nicholas are depicted, was severely damaged due to earthquakes and raids to the city and was rebuilt as a domed church in the 9 th century.
On the UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List
The next most extensive repair of the church was carried out in 1042 by the Byzantine Emperor IX: Constantine and his wife, Zoe. St. Nicholas Church, one of the essential works of Byzantine art history with additions made in the 11th century, is among the most prominent examples of the Middle Byzantine Period with its architectural style and decorations. The church, which has been on the UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List since 2000, is flooded by local and foreign tourists yearly. The church, which is essential not only in terms of being a historical but also a religious centre, is known as a holy destination that pilgrims going to Jerusalem from the Mediterranean route in the past. There is also a Roman sarcophagus decorated with fish scales and acanthus leaves, believed to be Santa Claus. Bones thought to belong to St. Nicholas are exhibited in the Antalya Museum.
History Revives in Demre…
St. Nicholas Church welcomes its visitors with its renewed face after the restoration works an landscaping by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism. Within the framework of the works carried out in the church, the old roofs were removed, and new protection roofs were built. Conservation and repair work was done on the church’s interior and exterior, from the walls to the dome, vault and floor areas. In addition to the documentation and conservation work of the original wall paintings and floor mosaics, the gallery space on the second floor was also included in the visitor route. Apart from the indoor arrangements for visitors with special needs, drainage and water discharge systems were also built. The church, which is five meters below the city settlement level and one meter below the sea level, was strengthened against rain and groundwater deformation.