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Myra was a leading city of the Lycian Union and surpassed Xanthos in early Byzantine times to become the capital city of Lycia. Its remains are situated about 1.5 km north of today's Demre, on the Kaș-Finike road. Most of the ancient city is now covered by Demre and alluvial silts, for it is located on the river Demre Cay in a fertile alluvial plain. Today this large plain is almost covered with greenhouses stuffed full of tomatoes. In ancient times this area was probably farmed extensively, for export and trade with the interior of Lycia. Simena is a popular Lycian site, situated upon one of the most attractive spots of the Turkish coast. The name "Kekova" is Turkish for "plain of thyme" and describes the region encompassing the island of Kekova, the villages of Kaleköy and Üçağiz and the three ancient towns of Simena, Teimussa and Tersane (meaning "shipyard", as its bay was the site of an ancient shipyard, with mostly Byzantine ruins). Both Simena and Teimussa have a large necropolis. Teimussa is now the village of Üçağiz, where boats set off for tours of the area.
The church of St. Nicholas at Myra The earliest church of St. Nicholas at Myra was built in the 6th century. The present-day church was constructed mainly from the 8th century onward; a monastery was added in the second half of the 11th century. In 1863, Tsar Alexander II of Russia purchased the building and began restoration, but the work was never finished. In 1963 the eastern and southern sides of the church were excavated. The floor of the church is made of opus sectile, a mosaic of coloured marble, and there are some remains of frescoes on the walls. An ancient Greek marble sarcophagus had been reused to bury the Saint; but his bones were stolen in 1087 by merchants from Bari, and are now held in the cathedral of that city.
It is really a perfect excursion. Very much recommended.
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