Saturday, October 24, 2009



Saint Nicholas (270 - 6 December 346) is the common name for Nicholas of Myra, in Lycia. Born in Patara, he was elected Bishop of Myra, and died there. The stories of his charitable acts took on legendary dimensions during the following centuries. One of these stories concerned three boys who were hacked into pieces by a greedy butcher, who salted and pickled them for sale in his shop. Nicholas miraculously restored the boys to life. On another occasion, on hearing that the daughters of a poor Myran could not marry for lack of a dowry, Nicholas stole under the man's window at night and left a bag of gold for each girl. Also known as Nicholas the Wonderworker, he had a reputation for secret gift-giving, such as putting coins in the shoes of those who left them out, and thus became the model for Santa Claus, whose English name comes from the Dutch Sinterklaas.

This post shows some of the sites in Lycia that St. Nicholas frequented, far from the reindeer and from the snows of mythic Lapland...

"TAHTALI MOUNTAIN - The Turkish Riviera near Antalya has a peculiar feature as one may join holidays in the mountain with holidays on the beach. Actually, on the way from the Palmiye beach resort to Demre, one comes across with the Tahtali Aerial Cableway, which leads you to Mount Tahtali, at 2,365m above sea level. With a length of 4,350 meters, the Tahtali Cableway is said to be the longest cableway in Europe, and the second longest worldwide"

"TEKIROVA is one of the four municipalities of the Kemer region"


"KUMLUCA - Named after its sandy soil (kum means sand in Turkish), Kumluca, with some thirty thousand inhabitants, has excellent soil conditions for growing watermelons..."


"FINIKE - The port is now a yacht marina, and has a small fishing fleet, but Finike is best known for its oranges"

"BAY in the morning"


"SAINT NICHOLAS - There is a story (and a controversy) behind the statues of St. Nicholas shown in Demre. The first, on show from 1981 until 2000, is a large bronze figure carrying a gift bag over his shoulder, and surrounded by three children. In December 2000 Russian sculptor Gregory Pototsky and Moscow mayor, Yuri Luzhkov, presented Demre with this figure, dressed as an Orthodox bishop. Russian tourists and pilgrims invaded Demre to pray at the base of the statue. In 2005, a new image appeared and the saint was tucked away to the courtyard wall outside the church. That's where this picture was taken"

"SANTA CLAUS - In 2005 the town council removed the bronze statue, replacing it with this bakelite Santa Claus. This change was controversial and raised international protests. However, despite pressure, Santa still stood until December 2008. The most recent image is a new «Turkish Santa», unveiled Christmas Day, 2008. It seems that his author, sculptor Necdet Can, tried to make it «look like Turks». It seems however that the statue doesn't look like Saint Nicholas, who lived in the 6th century, five centuries before the Turks arrive in Anatolia..."


"CHURCH - By the 10th century Nicholas had become the most popular folk saint in the Byzantine realm, counting as the patron of children, poor virgins, innocent prisoners, sailors and Russians. His tomb in Myra became the object of pilgrimages. A church was built around it in the 6th century. After it was destroyed in an Arab raid, the church was rebuilt in 1043 to take its present form with the help of Constantine IX"

"TOURISTS - The Church of St. Nicholas fell into disuse in Turkish times. In 1862 Tsar Alexander I bought the edifice and began restoring it. Further restorations were carried out in recent years by the Turkish government, which also promoted the annual festivities which take place on the saint's feast day. Thousands of pilgrims from Italy, Greece and other countries come to Myra each year on December"

"CEILING -Jesus and St. Nicholas"

"EMPTY TOMB - The fame of St. Nicholas was brought to the west by Byzantine princess Theophanous, who married Otto II to seal a treaty between the Holy Roman Empire and the Byzantine Empire. In 1087, some Italian merchants broke into the tomb, removed the bones and furtively translated them to Bari, reason why he is also known as Nicholas of Bari. Some other bones however were found in Myra and transferred to the Antalya Museum. Saint Nicholas is revered among Catholic and Orthodox Christians and is also honoured by various Anglican and Lutheran churches"

"MYRA TOMBS - Myra has some of the most impressive and well preserved Lycian monuments, including an excellent collection of rock tombs. Many of the tombs have log cabin features carved into the rock, presumably reflecting the domestic architecture of the period. A few ones have inscriptions in the Lycian language"

"AMPHITHEATRE - The imposing 2nd century theatre was later converted into an arena for gladiator fights and wild animal shows. Many carvings and inscriptions in the theatre are still visible, and tunnels and side access ways have been cleared. While much of the seating is intact, the stage building is partly collapsed"

"MASKS - A set of three carved masks, presumably from the frieze, lies among the remains in the approach to the theatre"

"COASTAL ROAD - Way back"



Trotter said...

Hi Everybody! I know that Christmas is still far notwithstanding the fact that sales have already began... Anyhow, anticipating the event, Blogtrotter is posting on Santa’s homeland. And probably for surprise of some, that’s not the lovely and snowy Finland (sorry Leena, Hélène, Susupetal....) but a warm section of the Turkish Riviera... ;). Hope you enjoy and have an excellent weekend!!

Chuckeroon said...

As usual, a good tour for the day.

If not at LHR this time then maybe next. Looking forward.....

P.N. Subramanian said...

It was really surprising. I too believed that Santa comes from Icy lands. Your first picture reminds me of similar conditions at Vancouver where you can go for skying as well as have a nice dip in the Sea. Thanks.

Voegtli said...

So, it seems to me that "Santa" was a frequent traveller long, long before us.

april said...

Santa has a nice homeland and I like him vry much better as a statue than as red Santa.

The rock tombs are phantastic. At first I thought they are to live in but now I see: they are for the dead.

diane b said...

Your posts are so interesting and educational. I never realised that St Nicholas was from that part of the world. I would rather see the original statue than the commercial santa one in the town square. Those tombs were amazing.

Mariposa said...

wow the Santa Claus story was great - didn't know there was so much history to it.
I'm mostly impressed with the rock tombs. Amazing~!
Thanks for sharing!

My Unfinished Life said...

some lovely and interesting pics of an interesting place!!!

Urmi said...

What a brilliant post. Each and every picture is so beautiful and I liked it so much that I cannot express you in words. Specially the clock tower, Santa Claus and other pictures are amazing and hats off to you for your fantabulous photography.

Nomadic Matt said...

I don't see santa!

bindu said...

I love the rock tombs, the masks and the lovely sunset. Must have been a great experience. Thanks for checking in on me. I've been a little "off" lately, so haven't been blogging or reading ... will do soon. Take care.

Rhonda Hartis Smith said...

Another wonderful trip, the clock tower looks very interesting. What a beautiful home for Santa!!!

Marja said...

Marvellous pictures Years ago we went on holiday to Marmaris and had a boat trip along the coast I absolutely loved Turkey. Great to read about St Nicholas and how weird they replaced him with father Christmas. In Holland we always celebrated St Nicholas on the 5th of December and he is always dressed up with his bisshop
hat and in his long red....(don't know the english name)
Anyway thanks for visiting and your blog is great too.

yyam said...

Wow! Thanks for the tour! Those tombs are really beautiful! Must have been fantastic to see them in person!

Have a fabulous week ahead! :)

Oman said...

wow. it is great to see santa's homw without the snow lol. great pics again my friend.

Kcalpesh said...

Absolutely beautiful and perfect place to relax & also go for an adventure at the same time....

- Pixellicious Photos

Rakesh Vanamali said...

Marvelous pictures, as always! Loved the ones of the sea!

I've read about Saint Nicholas while in school and thus am quite familiar with his origins!

Gil - maybe they should make you the roving ambassador of Portugal, for all the wonderful pictures that you bring for the world to see plus the travels that you so diligently undertake!

hpy said...

Watermelons are good.

Lara said...

wow, another surprising place!

Unknown said...

Another fantastic place Gil, I am amazed at the houses at the hills. Menawhile, we have just returned from Malacca, our historical state..pop over for a peek :P

alice said...

Je garde un très bon souvenir de Finike.
Ce week end, nous étions à Paris et en nous baladant Place Dauphine, Peter nous a parlé de toi, en passant devant un petit hôtel...

Bhushavali said...

Cool place it is... GMG, get me Santa's gifts on the way back!!!
My Travelogue, Savoir-Faire

eye in the sky said...

i recently saw a finnish movie about Nicholas - the "real" santa, which was a great non-romanticized version of how santa came about. now, here's a different side of the santa magic from turkey. great post!!! and the myrah tombs look spectacular!

Gattina said...

Beautiful pictures ! I have been there too, but at that time with a little camera you can redo your trip here :

Saint Nicolas is at the very end of the post.

Anonymous said...

the Tombs are absolutely amazing and something I would love to see. Thanks Gil for this enlightening bit on Santa. I have a friend who wrote a book on "all" of the Santas thru the ages. Fascinating! Now, what I want to know is when are you going to Dubai?

rochambeau said...

The MYRA TOMBS and the carved masks!! WOW!! Never have I seen anything quite like it. You an Mrs. Trotter have a great eye. Keep finding your happiness in the new landscape together and sharing your experience! What an adventure!


Ron said...

Very nice post! Thanks for the history lesson.

lyliane six said...

Maman est hospitalisée en ce moment, je n'ai pas beaucoup le moral, mais heureusement que je peux voyager grâce à tes superbes photos et tes intéressants commentaires.
Dans le Nord de la France c'est Saint Nicolas qui nous apportait les cadeaux le 6 décembre, car Noël était la naissance du Christ, et non une fête "paienne" comme elle l'est devenue maintenant.

PeterParis said...

I would also think that the statue we see here looks closer to the Coca Cola version by Huddon Sundblom, not really looking like a 4th century saint! I’m not surprised if there has been some fuzz about it! Of course the story about the “marriage” between Sta Claus and Father Christmas is long, complicated and interesting!

The Myra tombs are fantastic!

(I see that hpy made a very diplomatic comment...) :-)

Tinsie said...

The Myra tombs - and the masks - look amazing!

Ashira said...

The photos of the Myra Tombs are stunning!

Dsole said...

Hi Gil! it was a long time!
and now I'm back :)
What an amazing place! I love the second pic and the ones with those caves in the mountain! it's incredible!

[G@ttoGiallo] said...

Simply splendid !

PJ said...

Whew, what a tour. I don't know how you took it all in, everything looks fascinating.

Regina said...

Hello GMG. Wow! What a wondrous place and story of Saint Nicholas.
Beautiful shots.
Thank you so much for the awesome tour.

Have a great week.

Cergie said...

Hello Gil, avec toutes ces belles photos tu me ferais presque croire au Père Noël !
Noël pour nous n'a jamais été que la crèche et la messe de minuit et le repas du jour même avec la dinde et la bûche. Et le lendemain, la St Etienne qui est le St patron de mon père (et de mon fils).
L'esprit de noël on le retrouve ici cependant avec ces tombes dans la falaise, cette belle église, ces pierres simples.

Lori said...

Hi Gil, sorry I've been absent so long! I've been so busy most days I just have time to post! Your photos are amazing as usual and I feel like I've been on a trip after seeing them. Those rock tombs are especially amazing. Hope you are well!

Pietro Brosio said...

Hello Gil! Another splendid trip in a very informative post. All the images are so beautiful: original the clock tower, fascinating the bay in the morning; really amazing the church, Myra tombs, the amphitheatre.
Have a great week!

Pat @ Mille Fiori Favoriti said...

Fabulous post, Gil! St. Nicholas is one of my favorite saints and I always thought he was born in Holland.
The cliff side tombs were so interesting. Wonderful photos as always!

Ming the Merciless said...

Sorry for the long absence. Life and adjusting to new lifestyle get in the way of blogging. Well, and Facebook too.

Kumluca looks more like the French Riviera than what I envision in my head of Turkey. I know Turkey is a huge country with varying landscape but we so rarely see this side of the country.

JD said...

awesome.. and an eye opener post too

JD said...

awesome.. and an eye opener post too

Galaxy6139 said...

so brilliant ideas by those constructions, they look awesome ^^

Emery Roth said...

I'm intrigued by the Myra tombs and the amphitheater. - another place I'd love to visit. Beautiful photo with the masks and amphitheater.

Bindhu Unny said...

Didn't know about Santa Claus in such detail. The old structures look simply amazing, especially the Myra tombs!

Trotter said...

Hi Folks! After a weekend off, working but with a break to see the neighbourhood and the locals, I’m back to try to update this blog and reply to your comments. Unfortunately, Jose Mourinho and his team are going to start playing now, so there will be a further delay, but I’ll be back at the end of the game... ;))

OK! Here I am back to action after the victory of José in Kiev for the Champions League. What a round: F.C.Porto on; Chelsea on; Inter won... Long live the Blues!! LOL

Last Thursday it was too short; I’ll try to make it longer next time in London or then we may make it elsewhere... ;))

It’s the current opinion that Santa was born in Northern Europe, but it actually has a connection with Saint Nicholas, who was actually born in Lycia. And that happened a long time before the Ottomans entered the Anatolian Peninsula...
As for sea and ski you’re perfectly right: it is close to Vancouver; the difference being that Vancouver is much more ski and Antalya is exactly the contrary: much more sea... ;))

I don’t know if Saint Nicholas ever travelled to the northern icy lands, to put it the way Subramanian has put it, but it’s true that that kind of people used to travel a lot long before us and in much more difficult conditions than your dreamed A-380... ;))

The Turkish Riviera near Demre is a beautiful region and what I fee is even better than what I’ve shown is still to come... ;). I agree that Nicholas looks much better than Santa, but the problem is that he doesn’t «sell», as it is now common to say... ;). On the contrary, «Santa» sells a lot, and Christmas sales have already began in London’s Oxford and Regent Streets... ;))
Myra is amazing; and those were actually tombs, not houses... ;)

You were no different from most of us all; but it’s true that Saint Nicholas was of Myra and Santa is just legend after him... ;). Thanks for the compliment; I try to make the posts attractive, but it’s always good for the self-esteem to see that there is nice feedback on them!!

Santa is a story with many legends around, but the basis is definitely Nicholas of Myra... My pleasure to show you the tombs in Myra; an amazing experience as you mentioned!

Shooting Star,
I’m glad you enjoyed! I knew that Santa’s Homeland would certainly draw the attention of Blogtrotter’s visitors...

Thanks! Your words are always so kind that make me happy for the day!! I make Blogtrotter as a travelogue with only my own pictures (except in very rare occasions duly mentioned); but sometimes I wonder if I shouldn’t bring in some photos publicly available to enrich the posts; for instance, the pictures of the other statues of Santa in Demre... The problem is that I don’t have enough time to improve this blog. Shame...

What happened to you? It isn’t beer; otherwise you would see two Santa instead of just one... ;))

Always a pleasure to read you here or at yours! Take your time a needed; we’ll wait for you, looking forward to seeing the beauty that will come...
I’m happy that you liked the post. Myra is absolutely outstanding and the stone masks are awesome!!

You are always welcome to travel with us here; it’s free and easily done in front of a laptop, sipping a drink and enjoying the sun... ;). Santa had a wonderful homeland!!

Wow! You made a Turkish Odyssey... I was thinking of making it, but the difficult communications on the small boats made me postpone the experience!!
The story of St. Nicholas statues in Demre is a truly weird one... I understand that December 5th is approaching and the party in Holland is ready to start... Hope you enjoy it, notwithstanding the flu...
Love your blog! There are no questions about its’ beauty!!

My pleasure! You’re always welcome to travel with... I’m glad you enjoyed the Myra tombs; they’re actually an exceptional experience nd it was great to see them on the spot!!

Trotter said...

Replies, Part Two:

No wonder! In fact it’s hard to find snow in Santa’s homeland; except on the top of the Taurus Mountains. And I was not envisaging going up to the top of the hills... ;))

Relax is probably not the main aim of people going to the Turkish Riviera and, in particular, Santa’s Homeland. But it’s true that anyone can choose what to do: relax or adventure; it has it all!!

Great to read that you were aware of Santa’s origins and the way it became Papa Noël... As for the title of Ambassador, I waived the diplomatic career in 1974, it’s probably too late to start it now... But I’ll try to keep trotting around as much as I can, though things are now a bit difficult... ;))

Ha, ah! Diplomatic, as Peter would say... But I feel that there a bit of resentment for seeing it public that home isn’t Rovaniemi, notwithstanding Santa Claus, Santa Claus’ Village, Santa’s Park... ;))

Surprise and surprising places are always around the corner; we just have to open our eyes to see them..

They aren’t houses; well at least houses as we usually name them: they’re tombs!! Beautiful indeed, but tombs... ;). I saw your Malacca, but was truly sorry because I haven’t seen one of the most impressive, historical and beautiful places there: «The Famosa»!!

Ah Finike! Très joli, mais je n’ai pas eu la chance d’y aller!!
Place Dauphine, Pont Neuf, est très jolie et a été ma première expérience à Paris en 1969! C’est vrai que l’Hôtel Henry IV (?) a joué un rôle important dans ma découverte initiale de Paris, la ville à l’étranger que j’ai visité le plus dans ma vie…

Oh dear, you came too late; I left Santa’s homeland in September 2008... You have to notice that this blog has usually one year delay in posting... So, no gifts this year... ;))

A Finnish film on Santa? It probably has to deal with the fact that Santa was based on the life of Saint Nicholas, born in Myra and not known to have travelled to Finland... ;)). The tombs are exceptionally interesting are a must see whenever one comes close to the Turkish Riviera!!

I knew you had been all over Turkey; and your pictures are outstanding!! I’ve checked your Santa’s pictures and they were amazing; actually you caught the first version of the statue, which was on show at the main square from 1981 until 2000!!

Those tombs are awesome!! A book on all Santa(s) must be quite an achievement, but the truth is that he basis for the legend is definitely Saint Nicholas of Myra, renamed in Italy to be St. Nicholas of Bari. A bit like Saint Anthony of Lisbon, renamed Saint Anthony of Padua. Wrong!!
As for Dubai, I could say that I’m waiting to win the Euromillions’ lotto, but would keep it by saying that I’m waiting to see the Burj-al-Arab Tower finished... ;))

Yeah, you’re right: one has to go to Myra to see the Myra tombs; nothing quite like it anywhere else... ;). We’ll do our best to keep happy together and travelling the most... Unfortunately, that isn’t an easy task nowadays; but we’ll manage to survive... ;))

Not a lesson; just some probably useful information on a character that is going to command much lives in the two coming months... ;))

J’espère que ça ne se développe dans le mauvais sens; mais vraiment qu’est-ce qu’on peut attendre quand nos parents arrivent à un certain âge?
Tu as la tradition qui existe aussi au pays Bas, où Saint Nicolas arrive aussi le 5 décembre pour laisser ses présents à tout le monde… Maintenant, c’est le 24 décembre, sauf en Espagne qui attend jusqu'à le 6 janvier et les Trois Rois Mages… ;))

You are absolutely right: more a Coca-Cola bottle than a Saint… Now they have a new one showing Nicholas as a «Turkish». The problem is that there were no Turks there when he lived... Some more fuzz!!
Hélène stayed on the safe side: just watermelons... ;)). Rovaniemi marketing oblige... ;)

Trotter said...

Replies, Part Three and final (for the time being...)!

Glad that you enjoyed it!!

Now, when are you finally moving to Moscow? With Irina gone to Auckland, we are missing the snowy pictures... ;))

Welcome back to the blogosphere and to commenting here! It’s amazing that they created those caves as tombs...

I see that your southern Côte d’Azur experience has come to an end and you’re back in Paris and at the blogosphere. Not worse... ;))

It was an easy task: make a basis at the centre of the region you want to visit and then stroll around... ;))

You’re welcome! My pleasure to take you around with my trips… ;). I agree with you on the beauty of the place: wondrous!!

Je savais que tu étais prête à croire au Père Noël; juste une petite question de marketing… ;). La messe de minuit et la dinde je me rappelle bien, mais il y a eu toujours le soulier à la cheminée en attendant Père Noël… ;)). Bon, retrouver l’esprit de Noël en Turquie, c’est possible, mais pas évident…

Great to read you back! Everything is fine here, but I’m always a bit envious of seeing you strolling in New York… ;). With regard to the Myra tombs, they are truly amazing!!

Glad that you find it splendid! I liked to make the trip and thought the pictures (at least some of them) were quite interesting, but it’s always great to have the corresponding feed-back!!

No, Saint Nicholas is welcomed to Holland every December 5th, but he was actually born and died in Myra… I wonder why they made the tombs on the rocks, but they’re awesome!!

Welcome back here; it’s always a great pleasure to read your comments! Hope you’re doing well in Bangor, Maine! I’ve been reluctant to go deep into Facebook, because I wouldn’t have time for it all… ;)
This trip was an amazing experience: what they name Turkish Riviera has some similarities actually with the famous Riviera (in France…)! And it is worth while making a detour…

Thanks for your visit and first time comment here; I’m delighted!! And truly happy that you liked the post!!

Brilliant, maybe… but a bit difficult to use, at least in the present conditions… ;))
Anyhow, it’s true they look great!

That’s quite intriguing; I’m still wondering why and how did they made it that way… The list of the places to visit is immense and unfortunately time is at a premium… ;)

Bindhu Unny,
Santa is much less known than we could imagine; as things get commercial, there is no advantage in knowing things… Just buying is enough… ;)

lv2scpbk said...

Wonderful carvings on the mask stones. Love the clock tower. Looks like a nice walk to the top.

Trotter said...

The masks are stunning, and probably there were tons of them over there!
That's a nice ramp to the clock... ;))