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.
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