At Demre (Kale), the ancient Myra, (25 km west of Finike), many splendidly carved rock tombs overlook the magnificent Roman theatre. St. Nicholas was the bishop of this Mediterranean city during the fourth century, and died here in 342. Every year in December the Santa Claus Commemoration Ceremony attracts. many tourists who spend their Christmas holidays on the sunny coast of ancient Lycia.
The foundation date of Myra is not known exactly. However, the archaeological data, obtained from the researches in the grave reliefs with regard to style, indicates that the city has existed in the 5th century before Hellenistic Period. The city experienced its golden period during the 2nd century AD.
Myra, completely destroyed by the earthquake in 141 AD., was rebuilt by the charities of the rich Opromaos from Radiopolis and Lucius Magnun, Roman Proconsul. Artemis Eleutera Sacred Place in the city was also rebuilt. Having been renovated in this period, the theatre with its ornaments was characterised as a wonder of the world in the Late Antique Period.
Some of the numerous masks ornamenting this stage building are exhibited in the Demre Museum and some in the Antalya Museum. During the reign of Theodosius II (408-450 AD.), the city became the Metropolitan of the Lycians. In this period, the reputation of the city as the centre of pilgrimage where diseases having been cured spread not only in Lycia but also throughout the Christian World. The reason for this is that Santa Claus (St. Nicholas) has lived here in Myra in this period.
Summers are hot and dry, winters mild and rainy.