SEMA DOGAN (Hacettepe University) - A Pilgrimage Site In Lycia: Saint Nicholas Church And Monastery In Myra


Myra, the city housing the Church of Saint Nicholas, became a metropolis in Lycia after Theodosius II (408-450) separated the provinces Lycia and Lycaonia in the mid-5th century. According to John Malalas (491-578), the earliest representative of the Byzantine chronicle, a vast number of structures were built in Myra after it had been destroyed by a massive earthquake in 529 AD. Several quarters of the city, as well as the squares and poorly preserved religious structures, indicate that a large and active Christian population lived here in the 6th century. Myra remained as the metropolis of Lycia from the 5th century until the end of the 14th century, as Saint Nicholas, the famous saint of the Orthodox Christians, spent his life as a bishop in this city until he passed away and was buried in his tomb here. The church built upon the tomb of Saint Nicholas was an important site of pilgrimage from the Early Byzantine period through the Middle Ages for pilgrims on their way to Jerusalem. In the medieval times, those seeking healing would make offerings to Saint Nicholas in his church. During the excavation campaigns carried out from 1989 until today, new outbuildings were unearthed around of the Church. The architectural finds uncovered during the excavations have revealed that the church is situated inside a large monastery. In this presentation, the historical sources of the St. Nicholas Church and Monastery in Myra will be introduced with new archaeological data.

Selected Bibliography:

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Lethaby, W.R. 1915, Myra and Lycian Sculpture, Antiquities of Ionia V, London. Malalas, I.(ed. Dindorf, L.)

1831 Chronographia, Bonn. Ötüken, S. Y.

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Ötüken, S. Y. 2006 “2004 Yılı Aziz Nikolaos Kilisesi Kazısı ve Duvar Resimlerini Belgeleme, Koruma ve Onarım Çalışmaları”, Kazı Sonuçları toplantısı, 30 Mayıs-3 Haziran 2005, Antalya, Ankara: 297-312.

Peschlow, U. 1974/75 “Fragmente eines Heiligensarkophags in Myra“ Istanbuler Mitteilungen 23/24: 225- 231. Peschlow, 1975 “Die Architektur der Nikolaoskirche in Myra”, J. Borchardt (ed.), Myra. Eine lykische Metropole, Istanbuler Forschungen 30, Berlin: 303-359.

Peschlow, U. 1990 “Materialen zur Kirche des H. Nikolaos in Myra im Mittelalter", Istanbuler Mitteilungen 40: 207-258.

Rott, H. 1908 Kleinasiatische Denkmaeler aus Pisidien Pamphylien Kappadokien, Leipzig.

Ševčenko, I.- N.-P.Ševčenko 1984 The Life of Saint Nicholas of Sion. Text and Translation, Massachusets. Wilkinson, J.-J. Hill -W. F. Ryan 1988 Jerusalem Pilgrimage 1099-1185, London.