Excursion Demre-Mira-Kekova (Turkey)

The tour was purchased from a tour operator. It is said to be one of the most popular excursions in Antalya. We traveled from Kemer. A great option to diversify the “vegetable” hotel vacation and get to know wonderful Turkey. Initially, excursions were not planned, but, later, we did not regret the trip at all. Excursion “Demre-Mira-Kekova” cost us 50 dollars with a trip from the village of Kirish, we did not pay extra for the entrance anywhere. And now the details…

Demre-Mira-Kekova excursion program from Kemer: Gathering of tourists Stop for breakfast (lunch bag brought with you) and photo / video shooting Visiting the Church of St. Nicholas (the icon shop of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker) Lunch at a restaurant Mira – visiting the ancient city Boat trip to the sunken city of Kekova Stop Return to hotels I recommend bringing a towel and swimwear with you, as the tour involves the opportunity to swim in the sea and sunbathe on the upper deck of the yacht.

The first part of the tour: Demre city and the Church of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker

A comfortable bus picked us up at the hotel at 8 am and headed to the first point of our program – the city of Demre. From the village of Kirish, where our hotel is located, to Demre is an hour and a half drive. About halfway there was a “sanitary and hygienic” stop, here you could smoke, suffer from this bad habit, drink a glass of fresh juice and take a selfie against the backdrop of the sea).

The rest of the way to the city of Demre was full of steep turns and mountain serpentines (people with a weak vestibular apparatus will have a hard time). But looking out the bus window, we forgot about all the inconveniences. The views were amazing. We admired the sea coast and majestic mountain ranges, and the guide talked about the origins of Orthodoxy, which are inextricably linked with the history of the places where we were to visit. And also, about the birth, life and death of the greatest historical and religious figure – Nicholas the Wonderworker. For many centuries Saint Nicholas has been one of the most famous and revered saints in Christianity. As our guide put it, we were not going anywhere, but to his house. The ancient city of Demre is one of the most interesting places in Turkey. The bus stopped in a parking lot near the Church of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker . Then we were taken to an icon shop, where you could buy icons and various religious attributes. Everything is expensive. But to buy or not – it’s up to you. If you don’t have enough money with you, but you really liked it, you will be offered to pick up the purchase and pay for it upon arrival at the hotel.

At the exit from the shop, there is a souvenir shop, I think that in other places all this can be purchased cheaper. It is impossible not to note the desire of locals to make money on good Russian tourists.

By the way, about the images of Santa Claus on souvenirs (photo above). Why can you see them everywhere in Demre? The guide told us the story and legend of Nicholas the Wonderworker, who, it turns out, is the prototype of Santa Claus and our own Father Frost. Here it is impossible not to be distracted by a short story about this beloved and revered saint.

Saint Nicholas the Wonderworker – the prototype of Santa Claus

The Greek name Nicholas means “victorious people” from the verb “nikon” – to win. This name has many analogues in European languages: Nicholas, Miklos (-sh), Klaus, Nikalavsh, Nicole – which is also evidence of the popularity of St. Nicholas in Europe. Not much is known about the life and work of Saint Nicholas. Many historical data about his life were overgrown with legends and fiction, which were spread by oral retelling among people, forming the so-called hagiographic epic, which has little in common with the true life of this saint. It is known that St. Nicholas was born in the city of Patara Lycian (Asia Minor) around the year 270. He was the only child of rich parents, whom they begged from God through long and fervent prayers. From childhood, he was distinguished not only by piety, but also by a passionate love for the poor. After the death of his parents, he shared his large property with the needy: he secretly threw money at night to three girls whom their parents wanted to pass off as rich but wicked suitors. This incident was even described in his epic by Dante. The legend says… When, once again, St. Nicholas made his way into the house of the poor bride through the chimney and threw a bag of coins, he landed in one of the socks drying there. From here, supposedly, the tradition of Europeans to put a Christmas present in a sock began. We all know the custom to dress up as St. Nicholas on Christmas or New Year’s Eve, when he brings gifts to children, hiding them in a sock under the pillow. Even Santa Claus in our tradition is the figure of St. Nicholas.

About the life of Saint Nicholas

Saint Nicholas was elected bishop in the city of Myra (now Demre), he attracted the hearts of believers not only by the diligence of the shepherd, but above all by caring for the material needs of the poor and orphans. When Constantine the Great condemned three people to death for a small crime, Saint Nicholas himself went to Constantinople and begged for forgiveness for them. Once he saved fishermen with a prayer during a storm, which is why he is revered as the patron saint of sailors and all wanderers. If there was an epidemic in the city, he helped the sick, risking his own life. Legend says that Nicholas resurrected three people killed by the innkeeper because they couldn’t pay for the night’s lodging. Saint Nicholas was thrown into prison during the persecution of Diocletian in the 4th century. He was released only after the Edict of Milan by Emperor Constantine the Great in 313. Saint Nicholas took part in the first Council of 325 in Nicaea, at which the heresy of Arius was condemned. After many years of his service to God’s people, Saint Nicholas died between 345 and 352. His body was buried in Mir, where he rested until 1087. On May 9 of the same year, the body of the saint was transferred to the Italian city of Bari, and on September 29, the solemn consecration of the tomb took place, which was performed by Pope Urban II. It is here, at the tomb of St. Nicholas, in 1098 a Synod was held, the purpose of which was to conclude a union (union) between the Eastern and Western Churches. Among the 184 bishops – the fathers of the Synod – was St. Anselm of Canterbury, who was being persecuted in England at the time. In Bari, in the Basilica of St. Nicholas, a document has been preserved that tells how the remains of the saint were transferred from Mira, where the Turks dominated at that time. Two priests bribed the Turks and took out the remains at night, thus ahead of the Venetian merchants, who also wanted to have them, giving a lot of money for them.

Church of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker in Demre

In 1957, scientific research was carried out on the remains of St. Nicholas. They were attended by the papal delegate, Cardinal Jan Piazza, Cardinal Agazhan, 6 metropolitans and 19 bishops. According to the results, Saint Nicholas had a short stature – about 167 cm, but was well built, at the time of his death he was about 72-80 years old. His relics emit a fragrant oil – Miro, who is credited with healing power. Its composition cannot be determined by science.

We had the good fortune to wander around the church where St. Nicholas was buried, admiring the majestic vaults and centuries-old frescoes. And now there is a sarcophagus (behind glass, for security reasons) where his relics were kept before they were transported to Italian Bari. Icons, crosses, etc. are applied to it. The queue was long, and we were afraid not to have time to touch the shrine in the half hour allotted by the guide. But we managed to do everything and if you have such an opportunity, I advise you to definitely use it.

The first forms of the cult of St. Nicholas dates back to the 6th century, when Caesar Justinian built a basilica dedicated to the saint in Constantinople. Caesar Basil the Macedonian in the 7th century. in his palace he erected a chapel in honor of the saint. By the 9th century in Rome, two shrines were already known in honor of St. Nicholas. Pope Nicholas the Great, honoring his guardian, erected a chapel in honor of the saint, and over time in Rome the number of shrines in his honor exceeded 10. In the villages, Saint Nicholas became the patron saint of shepherds, he protects livestock from diseases and wolves, so the shepherds held a fast on the eve of the saint’s day – December 5, and ordered mass for the cattle on the holiday itself. In the Catholic tradition, Saint Nicholas is the patron saint of travelers, children, marriageable girls, sailors, fishermen, bakers, and prisoners. In the Eastern Churches, he is a helper “in every work,” like St. Anthony in the Western Church. The tradition of giving gifts on St. Nicholas, December 6, or at Christmas.