Myra (Demre) Antalya / Ancient Cities

Located between Finike and Kas, within 30 km from Antalya, former capital of the Lycian Union and one of the six chief Lycian cities - as early as the Middle Ages, the city of Myra, has a rather turbulent past for the duration of which it fell under Roman, Hellenistic or Arab attacks.

While available ancient documents have placed Myra back to the first century B.C., the unearthed spectacular archaeological relics (coins and impressive rock tombs which resemble a shed engraved into the mountain wall) are evidence of the city�s existence somewhat later in history, starting with the end of the forth and the beginning of the fifth century B.C.

Legendary for its noteworthy and well-preserved collection of Lycian rock tombs as well as for its magnificent second century theatre, the prosperous city of Myra was initially set on top of the hill to be later stretched out downhill, which, on the one hand, entailed the improvement of naval trade but, on the other, it brought about several pirate raids that menaced to leave the city deserted.

Apparently, the pirate or the ninth century Arab attacks as well as the Myra River muddy overflows have caused considerable damage to the city, so that, when Turks first came to the area, the once prosperous city of Myra had already been shrunk to a small village.

It seem that in time, the people of Myra have learned to draw an advantage out of the muddy overflows, so that, today, Myra has an agriculture based economy. Just before driving to the city, when in the Karabucak area, you'll spot the ruins of a Turkish bath and a Roman mausoleum, probably dating back from later times. Farther on, in the middle of all this conundrum of relics there lie three carved masks, most likely belonging to the fresco, forewarning the tourist that they're coming closer to the Myra theatre, known to have been almost entirely carved out of marble and estimated to have had an overall capacity of more than twenty thousand spectators.

As historic documents attest, Roman theatres used to be turned into arenas, either for gladiator fights and/or for beast shows. Apparently, Myra's imposing theatre made no exception and the tale it has lived to tell, by the means of the carvings and inscriptions still visible in the granite walls and cavernous tunnels (although they are partly collapsed), is about brave gladiators fighting to get their freedom back in Marcus Aurelius' times.

Nowadays, the theatre is a museum and, given that much of the seating is undamaged, the theatre opens its gates for opera lovers who come, in the month of June, to enjoy the music festival held here once a year.

Without a doubt, the passage of time has long buried countless other relics that wait to be unearthed and tell people about Myra's stories. Until then, start off your archaeological expedition and get ready to discover some of the world's richest treasures of history and culture.

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