Situated between Finike and Kas, Myra is 25 kms. from Finike and 48 kms. from Kas. It was one of the most important cities among the other six Lycian cities. It was settled in the 5th century B.C. Although it was originally a coastal town, it has retreated from the sea because of the alluvium from the Demre stream. It was abandoned in the 9th century A.D. after the Arab invasion. The rock tombs, the theatre and St. Nicholas Church have survived to make it a place worth visiting.
St. Nicholas, born in 245 A.D. in Patara near Fethiye (known variously as St.Nicholas, Father Christmas, Santa Claus, Heilige Nikolaus and Pere Noel) died in 326 A.D., having spent his life in Anatolia
Son of a wealthy family and of good education, he devoted himself to mankind. Because of the assistance he rendered to those around him, St. Nicholas was known as the protector of children and sailors, and to this day the legend of Father Christmas has continued to live as vividly as ever.
As the Bishop of Demre, by his religious and social work, he solved the problems of the people in a humane way. After he died he was buried in Demre and a church was built there for his memory. In 108 Italian pirates stole some of his bones and took them to Bari. In their haste they left a few behind and these are today on display in the Antalya Museum.
In a number of countries the death of St. Nicholas is commemorated by special ceremonies and by giving presents to children, and in fact it takes on the significance of a new year.
It was in the years 1951-55 that it was realized St. Nicholas was Santa Claus (or Father Christmas) and this drew a lot of attention to Turkey, with articles in the papers and items on the radio, and in 1955 a Father Christmas stamp was issued. After that date celebrations for Father Christmas started to be held regularly.
The first Father Christmas symposium ever held in Antalya was between 5-7 December 1983. This is now held annually and is attended by religious and scientific people from all over the world. In these symposiums, in keeping with Anatolia's St. Nicholas' love for humanity, a call is made to people of different religions and beliefs for peace, friendship and brotherhood.