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Barry's Blog #166 - Time Travel

Updated: Feb 20, 2021

Time travel. That's what I do whenever we take a trip to visit an ancient site in any country. Right now we're back in Turkey and once more we have a plethora of amazing ancient sites to visit.

Of course it's only time travel in my head, as I allow my imagination to run wild and try to envisage what would be going on around me as I sit in a 10,000 seat amphitheatre, explore the different rooms of the huge communal bath houses or stroll through an ancient agora and picture the sights and sounds of traders selling their goods and wares, the customers haggling over the price, the small children dashing through the crowds, themselves lost in a world of their own making. It's magical in a very special way for me.

Ancient Myra

This week we visit ancient Myra or to be more precise the small part of ancient Myra that has actually been unearthed from beneath the vast alluvial deposits that buried the town slowly but surely following a natural disaster.

The true date of Myra's foundation is unknown, however an outer defensive wall of the city has been dated to the 5th century BC. The vast majority of the ancient city is now covered by alluvial silt and the more recently named town of Demre has been built on top of it.

Myra was once a leading city of the Lycian Union and surpassed the city of Xanthos in early Byzantine times to become the capital city of Lycia.

Today this large alluvial plain is almost totally covered with greenhouses dedicated to growing tomatoes. In ancient times this area was also farmed extensively, for export and trade with the interior of Lycia.

The time line of Myra began as ancient Greek, then became Roman Greek, then Byzantine Greek, then Ottoman Greek. Eventually it became the small Turkish town of Kale, which was renamed Demre in 2005. There are still plenty of remains to be unearthed of Myra, which lived its most glorious period in the 2nd and 3rd centuries AD.

These days visitors can explore the perfectly preserved Roman era amphitheatre and wonder at the huge tombs carved into the rocks overlooking the amphitheatre. Myra is also renowned for being the home of Saint Nicholas, also known as Santa Claus. The earliest church of St. Nicholas at Myra was built by the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire in the 6th century.

We'll take you on a tour of the church of St. Nicholas next week, but for this week we hope that you enjoy what we share with you on our time travels to ancient Myra.

Stay safe wherever you are and whatever you're doing and I'll bring you more tales from Sailing A B Sea next week.

To watch the video that accompanies this blog click here.


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