Myra (modern Demre, Turkey, in the district of Kale) was one of the leading cities of Lycia at the time Paul changed ships there on his voyage to Rome (about 60 CE, Acts 27:5). It probably predates the Hellenistic period; one defensive wall dates back to the fifth century BCE. Most of the ancient city is unexcavated, lying either beneath modern Demre or the farmlands of the floodplain of Demre Cayi (called the Myros in ancient times). The silting of this river has extended the coastline far beyond where it lay in ancient times. Elevations in the area suggest that the land northwest of Cape Tasdibi was once an island, the southwest peninsula of which provided an excellent shelter for Myra’s port, Andriakē. Based on these elevations (up to about 10 m.), I have sketched the approximate location of the ancient shoreline, which gradually extended farther and farther south until reaching its present location.
Want to go deeper?
The following are recommended to help you look deeper into the history and archaeology of Myra.
Recommended for purchase:
Claude E. Fant & Mitchell G. Reddish – A Guide to Biblical Sites in Greece and Turkey (Oxford, 2003). – Nearly two-thirds of the New Testament, including all the letters of Paul, most of Acts, and the Book of Revelation, are set in either Turkey or Greece. This book serves as a historical, biblical, and archaeological guide to most of these biblical sites. View excerpt
George Bean – Lycian Turkey Classic Guides to Turkey (London: John Murray, 1989).
Frank Sear – Roman Theatres: An Architectural Study. (Oxford, 2006). – Sear discusses Myra’s theater and includes a plan (Plan 389, Pl. 128).on p. 370.
Ekrem Akurgal – Ancient Civilizations and Ruins of Turkey: From Prehistoric Times Until the End of the Roman Empire (Haset Kirabevi, 1985). | cheaper, earlier edition – Akurgal was the archaeologist in charge of the excavation of the original Smyrna at Bayrakli.
Christine Eslik, PhD – Recent & current excavations at St. Nicholas Church and Andriakē
– Excavations at St. Nicholas Church – Frescoes (ANMED issue 2004-02). | “Excavations at Church of St. Nicholas in Myra-Demre” (ANMED issue 2006-04). | “Surveys in Andriake in 2005” (ANMED issue 2006-15).
Patty & Kemal Safyurek – Myra. See also their related site on Lycia, which is one of the most thorough and helpful available, including Lycian history, archaeology, photos, and much more.
Charles Fellows – An Account of Discoveries in Lycia (London: John Murray, 1840). Discusses Myra on pp. 196ff.
Lynn Levine – “Demre” in Frommer’s Turkey 4th ed. (Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley& Sons, 2006). 298-302 (299-301 unavailable online).
Luc Wouters – Photos of Myra.
Virtual tour (360° photos) – Frontal view of theater | View from orchestra | View from near top | Cliff tombs behind theater | Sarcophagus of St. Nicholas
Wikipedia – Myra | Demre
Andrys Basten – St. Nicholas Church (photo gallery)
Burak Sansal – Demre & Myra | St. Nicholas of Myra | Lycia and the Lycians – Sansal is a Turkish professional tour guide.