Demre, Turkey, December 16 (TABLET.TV) – St. Nicholas Church is an ancient Byzantine Church located in modern-day town of Demre, Antalya Province, Turkey. Its usage is dated between 5th-12th centuries. It is notable for being the buriel place of St. Nicholas of Myra, a 4th-century Eastern Orthodox bishop of the ancient city of Myra, an important religious figure for Eastern Orthodox Christians and the historical inspiration for Santa Claus. The Church is on UNESCO’s tentative list to become a World Heritage Site.
The church was built in AD 520 on the foundations of an older Christian church where Saint Nicholas served as a bishop. Over time the church was flooded, filled with silt, and buried. In 1862 it was restored by Russian Tzar Nicholas I, who added a tower and made other changes to its Byzantine architecture. The church is regarded as the 3rd most important Byzantine structure in Anatolia. It is noted for its remarkable wall frescos, and its architectural and religious significance. The northeast annex arcade contains the only example of St Nicholas’s life cycle as well.