Aannsha’s Blog #166 – Exploring Myra

Updated: Feb 27

Even without covid lockdown restrictions, winter presents its challenges for a sailing channel. We actually don’t classify ourselves as sailors though, but travellers first and sailors second. And our channel covers our lives on board A B Sea, which means if we’re stuck fixing the boat, you’re stuck watching it lol. It also means that if we can’t get out sailing – because of lock down rules or because the weather is inclement – then we will find other ways of entertaining ourselves and you.


Car hire to get out and about


We hired a car for a few days and made the most of our freedom during the week to explore a few other places that we didn’t get to visit last time we were in Kaş. Today’s video covers our exploration of the ancient ruins of Myra in Demre, which is a 60 minute drive east from Kaş marina.


An early morning mist hung low, clinging to the valleys of farming land amongst the hills where many greenhouses cluster together on every spare metre of space in the fertile valley basins. We arrived at Myra which is nestled in amongst the greenhouses which predominantly grow tomatoes, and parked for free on some land next to a guy’s house after he waved at us and pointed to the empty block. We seemed to be the only tourists in town.


We promised the guy that we’d sample his freshly squeezed orange juice when we returned and made our way to the entrance to the ruins which was just a few metres away on the opposite side of the road.


We walked past several large tourist stores inside the complex as we headed towards the ticket booth. The stores were empty, although we did spot a coach load of Russian tourists who’d just arrived and were entering the ruins. Apart from the language they were speaking, I figured they were Russians when I saw them. None of them wore masks and that seems to be a trait of theirs.


We noticed last time we were in Turkey that tourist sites were fairly quiet during winter, so even without covid, the place would have been fairly quiet. Unfortunately for the operators of the site, the shops and the cafés, they won’t have made the profit during the usually busy summer months to carry them over the winter.


Turkish tourism cards save money


Tourism sites in Turkey are very well maintained and they have state of the art entry booths with museum cards that you purchase and use to tap into the automatic gates at the entrance. There are always hand sanitiser stations and clean toilets on site for convenience. They also provide comprehensive information boards at each site in Turkish and English which I always appreciate.


It is possible to purchase either a single pass for entry into the current museum, or there are a variety of museum cards that offer a good discount for those who wish to visit a lot of sites during their stay in Turkey.


The 15 day museum pass currently costs 550 TL and covers 300+ sites, giving a total discount of 2922 TL if all sites are visited. We are Turkish residents, so we opted for a one year Müzekart, which cost us 60 TL each and covers entry into the same amount of sites as the 15 day card. All that was needed was to present our residency Ikamet cards, pay and a few minutes later we were using the cards to enter the Myra ruins.


Myra ancient city ruins


The large ancient city of Myra was located in the Demre district area, situated next to Myros river (now called Demre River) and close to the ancient port of Andriake to its west. It was a very important area for trade and sea transportation, as well as pilgrimage later on in Byzantine times. Most of ancient Myra is covered by silt up to 9 metres deep as a result of the Myros river depositing alluvial deposits over the plain. Most of these alluvial deposits are now covered with the greenhouses that we passed on the way to the site, and presumably provide excellent minerals for growing the many tomatoes that are produced in the area. It seems unlikely therefore that much more of ancient Myra will be excavated.


The first reference to Myra listed it as a member of the Lycian League between 168BC – 43AD, when it was one of the largest towns in the alliance. Now it is known for the large Lycian rock tombs, the Roman amphitheatre and the Byzantine church of St. Nicholas (Santa Claus), the latter being on a separate site in the centre of Demre town.