Known today as Demre, ancient Myra played a critical role in the second-century BCE Lycian alliance and eventually became a significant site for early Christians.  The exact date of the city's foundation is still unknown, but the first textual mention of Myra dates from the first century BCE.  Saint Nicholas was Myra’s most celebrated citizen in the first century CE, and the church erected in his honor was built in the sixth century.  The fifth-century Eastern Roman emperor, Theodosius II, made Myra the capital of the local region, until the city fell to the Harun Ar-Rashid in 808 CE after a siege and went into decline.  The city again fell to the Seljuks early in the reign of Alexius I Comnenus (1081-1118 CE).  Due to the ravages of a terrible plague, raids, flooding, and numerous earthquakes, Myra was abandoned by the eleventh century.

In addition to the Church of Saint Nicholas, the city is best known for its amphitheater (the largest in Lycia, with some 13,000 seats) and the plethora of rock-cut tombs carved in the cliff above the theater.  Lycian tombs were always placed atop hills or on cliffs in the belief that the dead would be transported to another world by a winged creature.

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