The ancient Lycian city of Myra, located near Demre, was the city where St Nicholas lived in the 4th century. Born in Patara, he later became the bishop of Myra. He was reputed for his generosity and compassion. A legend tells the story of a man who was too poor to provide his three daughters with a dowry, as they had reached the age to be married. One night, Nicholas tossed a bag full of gold through the window of the oldest girl, in order to save her from her bad situation. Some time later, Nicholas wished to put up the dowry money for the other two girls, but because their windows were closed, he threw the bags of gold down the chimney, hence the secret bestowal of presents to children at Christmas. This custom of delivering gifts at night in secret was first practiced on the eve of the saint's day (6th of December), then put off until the 25th of December.
The following stories show why Nicholas has been accepted as the Patron saint of children and sailors: on a return voyage from Jerusalem, Nicolas, by his prayers, saved the ship from sinking and even resurrected a sailor who had drowned in the sea.
In a time of famine three boys found their way to the house of a butcher who murdered them in their sleep, cut up their bodies and put them in a salting-tub, intending to sell the flesh. Nicholas, informed by an angel, went to the butcher’s house and restored the boys to life.

In 60 or 61 AD, Paul and Luke reembarked from the port of Myra when they were taken to Rome, as prisoners.

The Church of St Nicholas (Noel Baba Kilisesi) is located in Demre. On the place of the saint's tomb, who was martyred under the rule of Docletian, a chapel was erected in the 4th century, then replaced by a church that was damaged by the Arab raids, but restored and surrounded by walls in the 11th century. However at the end of the same century, the bones were stolen and taken to Bari (Italy). Some relics such as fragments of his jawbone and skull are today kept in the Archaeoligical Museum of Antalya. In the church of Demre there are fragments of frescoes and mosaics, as well as a sarcophagus where St Nicholas is thought to have been burried (the lid does not belong to it).

International St Nicolas Symposium takes place every year in Demre.

The rock-cut tombs (4C BC) some of which have temple facades and beautifully carved reliefs representing the dead and their families, or warriors. They are among the most fascinating in Anatolia.

The Roman theatre