St. Nicholas' Church in Ancient Myra

Located in the ancient city of Myra (now modern day Demre in Turkey) is the church of St. Nicholas. The church is built over the original burial place of St. Nicholas, the fourth century bishop of Myra. In a certain sense, I suppose one might, tongue firmly planted in cheek, consider this the "church of Santa Claus" given the reality, of course, that the mythical, modern figure of "Santa Claus" is derived from the historical, ancient person of St. Nicholas of Myra. 

The church is today but a museum, a shadow of what it formerly was. It was constructed in the sixth century under the Emperor Justinian, specifically in the year A.D. 520, on the foundations of the church that St. Nicholas himself had his seat in as a bishop. In that regard of course, St. Nicholas himself would never have set foot in this particular structure, but all the same it is intimately connected to his person. 

Within you can see all of the usual architectural elements that we tend to associate with Roman Christian architecture (whether Eastern or Western Roman), most especially the remnants of the altar and the columns of what was once its ciborium.  Behind it sits the remains of a synthronon where the bishop and his clerics would have sat. 

The floor too is worth a look, falling into a familiar Roman pattern of polychrome, inlaid marbles set into geometric patterns and designs. 

Finally, it is worth pointing out that the church contains various frescoes that depict the life of St. Nicholas. These are done in a very interesting style that suggests they may well be of an earlier period; a period when this type of art was less abstracted and more naturalistically inclined -- but this is purely speculation on my part. 

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