Where is Santa Claus? In Saint Nicholas church in Turkey!

Most people think of snow white landscapes with Rudolph and elves when asking themselves ‘Where is Santa Claus?’ But the truth is Santa Claus might be nowhere near that cold scenery. In fact, you’ll need to look at the Mediterranean to find Santa. Scientists and researchers claim that Santa Claus’s tomb lies under Saint Nicholas Church in Demre, Turkey. Who knew that a visit to Turkey could be combined with a trip to Santa? So, if not in the cold North, then where is Santa Claus?

St Nicholas Church

St Nicholas Church

The legend of Saint Nicholas

How come Santa Claus is to be found in Turkey? That’s because of the myth of Saint Nicholas, after whom this church is named. Very little is known about St. Nicholas who was born around 300 in Patara, apart from the fact that he became bishop of Myra, and died around 350. Probably this lack of evidence has helped to keep alive the legends fabricated over time, many of which involve him helping the poor and young people. After his death, Saint Nicholas was buried in Demre (then Myra) and became the patron saint of children, virgins, sailors, and seafarers. As more pilgrims visited his tomb, his popularity grew, as did the legends. That is how Saint Nicholas, the bishop of Myra eventually ended up being known as a bearded man who brings toys. In Belgium and the Netherlands, he goes by the name of Sinterklaas and he is known as St. Nick in most of Europe, where he brings his gifts on December 6. In North America, he became Santa Claus, bearing gifts at Christmas. The European children are lucky, for they too have Father Christmas, making December the most exciting month to receive presents for children in Europe.

Beautiful Fresco's

Beautiful Fresco’s

St. Nicholas Church

This is the church where St. Nicholas was buried. Over the course of time, the church was damaged by earthquakes and Arab invasions. At one point, the relics of Saint Nicholas were stolen from the church and taken to Bari’s Cathedral in Italy. Turkish archaeologists now claim they have evidence that the bones taken from Myra were not those of St. Nicholas, but belonged to another priest. The recent discovery of an intact temple below the church supports that theory. While the church is not the most attractive building when seen from the outside, its fascinating interior testifies to an even more intriguing history. The Byzantine church dates back to the 11th-century, and what you see today is the result of restorations and extensions carried out in different periods. The church has some spectacular mosaics, frescoes, domes, and tombs.

Rays Of Light For A Mystical Experience

Rays Of Light For A Mystical Experience

Practical information to get to Demre

Next time someone asks ‘Where is Santa Claus’? You’ll know. He’s in Turkey. That is not a legend, but a fact. At least, that is what scientists claim. The archaeologists on site are convinced they will find Saint Nicholas’s remains undamaged in the temple. By visiting the church early morning or late afternoon, you can avoid the crowds, making your visit a more satisfying experience. Demre lies about 50km east of Kaş and approximately 80km southwest of Çıralı and Olympos. You’ll find it on our map together with a map search function for more Turkey travel inspiration.

To further help you prepare your trip to Turkey, we’ve bundled all resources on one page. It contains the links to the official visa application website, FastTrack through Istanbul airport links and plenty more.

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Check out these reviews on TripAdvisor to find out what others think of this place! If needed, you can send us a message through our contact page, or join our closed Facebook group where other Turkey travelers and aficionados are ready and eager to help.

Turkey is a perfectly safe country to travel, except for these risks. Still, you should never travel without proper insurance. We love World Nomads’ travel insurance. We love their philosophy and their take on responsible travel, but also the fact that they cover popular activities in Turkey such as paragliding or balloon rides.

Clicking these links will take you to pages of places and products we love and we’ve tested. If you happen to book or buy something, we may earn a small commission from it, at no extra cost to you. So here’s a thank you for adding some coins to the tip-box! 😉

Make sure to visit Myra and Andriake while you are here!

Would you rather join an organized tour? That’s when Get Your Guide comes in handy. They offer plenty of activities and sightseeing tours that you can pre-book online.

If you’re more into a personalized experience while enjoying the services of a guide, Tours by Locals may be what you’re looking for! We just love them! You get the knowledge and assistance of a local, and the experience of independent traveling. Best of both worlds, really.

Clicking these links will take you to pages of places and products we love and we’ve tested. If you happen to book or buy something, we may earn a small commission from it, at no extra cost to you. So here’s a thank you for adding some coins to the tip-box! 😉

Demre may not be the most fascinating place to stay for the night. We would suggest an overnight stay in nearby Kaş, Kekova, or Olympos. We really enjoyed our stay at Lukkies Lodge!

You’ll find more hotel options near Myra on Booking.com. Unfortunately, the website isn’t accessible from within Turkey without the use of a VPN. If you don’t have a VPN, and you’re already in Turkey, Hotels.com is a good alternative.

Clicking these links will take you to pages of places and products we love and we’ve tested. If you happen to book or buy something, we may earn a small commission from it, at no extra cost to you. So here’s a thank you for adding some coins to the tip-box! 😉

When searching for flights, we like to use Skyscanner. It’s easy to use, and reliable. Find the best flights to Turkey and domestic flights that will take you all around the country here.

Do you prefer some good old road tripping? Once you get used to the unconventional driving style in Turkey, you’ll love to hit the road. After all, it’s all about the journey, and you may expect some very scenic rides! Renting a car in Turkey is easy. If you’re looking for an established car rental company that allows pick-up and drop-off at different airports, check out Europcar. They have offices all over Turkey.

Clicking these links will take you to pages of places and products we love and we’ve tested. If you happen to book or buy something, we may earn a small commission from it, at no extra cost to you. So here’s a thank you for adding some coins to the tip-box! 😉

Check out these reviews on TripAdvisor to find out what others think of this place! If needed, you can send us a message through our contact page, or join our closed Facebook group where other Turkey travelers and aficionados are ready and eager to help.

Turkey is a perfectly safe country to travel, except for these risks. Still, you should never travel without proper insurance. We love World Nomads’ travel insurance. We love their philosophy and their take on responsible travel, but also the fact that they cover popular activities in Turkey such as paragliding or balloon rides.

Clicking these links will take you to pages of places and products we love and we’ve tested. If you happen to book or buy something, we may earn a small commission from it, at no extra cost to you. So here’s a thank you for adding some coins to the tip-box! 😉

Make sure to visit Myra and Andriake while you are here!

Would you rather join an organized tour? That’s when Get Your Guide comes in handy. They offer plenty of activities and sightseeing tours that you can pre-book online.

If you’re more into a personalized experience while enjoying the services of a guide, Tours by Locals may be what you’re looking for! We just love them! You get the knowledge and assistance of a local, and the experience of independent traveling. Best of both worlds, really.

Clicking these links will take you to pages of places and products we love and we’ve tested. If you happen to book or buy something, we may earn a small commission from it, at no extra cost to you. So here’s a thank you for adding some coins to the tip-box! 😉

Demre may not be the most fascinating place to stay for the night. We would suggest an overnight stay in nearby Kaş, Kekova, or Olympos. We really enjoyed our stay at Lukkies Lodge!

You’ll find more hotel options near Myra on Booking.com. Unfortunately, the website isn’t accessible from within Turkey without the use of a VPN. If you don’t have a VPN, and you’re already in Turkey, Hotels.com is a good alternative.

Clicking these links will take you to pages of places and products we love and we’ve tested. If you happen to book or buy something, we may earn a small commission from it, at no extra cost to you. So here’s a thank you for adding some coins to the tip-box! 😉

When searching for flights, we like to use Skyscanner. It’s easy to use, and reliable. Find the best flights to Turkey and domestic flights that will take you all around the country here.

Do you prefer some good old road tripping? Once you get used to the unconventional driving style in Turkey, you’ll love to hit the road. After all, it’s all about the journey, and you may expect some very scenic rides! Renting a car in Turkey is easy. If you’re looking for an established car rental company that allows pick-up and drop-off at different airports, check out Europcar. They have offices all over Turkey.

Clicking these links will take you to pages of places and products we love and we’ve tested. If you happen to book or buy something, we may earn a small commission from it, at no extra cost to you. So here’s a thank you for adding some coins to the tip-box! 😉

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Check the weather

Never wonder about the weather in Turkey again. The Turkish climate is as diverse as the country with significant differences between the regions.

This page contains the current weather and weather statistics for all regions in Turkey.

Prepare your trip

How to order a tourist visa for Turkey?

What about public transport?
Can you skip the line at Istanbul Airports?

General Turkey travel information, essential to help prepare your trip, on one page!

Work with us

Get direct access to your target audience with a proven interest in Turkey. People call us their Turkey Bible!

Contact us for a feature on our map, a destination guide, a photo shoot, or any form of professional Turkey-related content.

Ask a traveler

Are you unsure about a destination, activity or hotel? Why don’t you ask other travelers about their experience?

We have a closed Facebook group where you can ask all Turkey-related questions. You’ll get solid advice and travel inspiration.

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