The Flawless Ruins of Ancient Myra

My eagerness to visit the historical ruins of Myra came about because in its prime, it was one of the  most important cities of the ancient Lycian league.

Known as the first democratic union in history, the Lycian league can also take credit for influencing the United States constitution

The league left their footprint in history through ancient ruined cities all over the south west coast of Turkey and I was determined to visit as many of them as possible. This proved to be more difficult then I originally thought as while on my tour I discovered there is more historical attractions in this area of Turkey, than the whole of Greece put together!

About the Ruins of Myra

I was not expecting a lot from Myra (now named Demre). After you have seen the ancient ruins of Ephesus, it takes a lot for anything to match up. However I was pleasantly surprised even though Myra is maybe one fifth of the size of Ephesus. This is probably due to the fact that Ephesus displays predominately Roman architecture and influence, while Myra still has traces of its Lycian heritage.

The result is completely different ambience, vibes and a unique experience

Lycian League

The main attractions at Myra are the large theatre which used to sit 13000 and the necropolis Lycian rock tombs. Even though you are  not allowed to walk around the rock tombs, you can still get a feel for the ancient Lycian culture and their beliefs.

Lycian rock tombs

Lycian tombs were always placed at the top of hills or on the cliffs as there was a belief that the dead would be transported to another world by a wing liked creature.

Lycian Rock Tombs on the hillside

When they were first discovered by a foreign explorer,  the tombs were painted in bright red, green and yellow colors however very little of those bright colors are obvious today.

Theater at Myra

How to Get to Myra

To get to Myra, I jumped on the bus from Kas and got off in the town of Demre. From there, I saw a sign that said Myra was a 3km walk. Now, I know 3km and I also know the Turkish version!

In the heat of the midday sun and my bad sense of direction, I did not want to chance it. I could not find the local bus headed in that direction but managed to barter a taxi driver for a return journey for 20 Turkish liras. The ruins are open from 9am to 7pm every day and are just 10 Turkish liras to enter.


Even if visiting ancient ruins is not your passion in life, I would definitely recommend putting Myra on your list if you are passing through the area. It only takes an hour if you are looking for a quick visit; otherwise combine the ruins with a trip to the home of Santa Claus, otherwise known as St Nicholas Church.

Two Lycian Rock Tombs

Question: Would you like to visit Myra or is exploring ancient ruins, not your favorite pastime?



Follow Natalie:
Hi. I'm Natalie, a freelance travel blogger and writer specializing in the country of Turkey. I love hot summer days, historical sites and coffee.

25 Responses

  1. Look forward to reading about your travels in 2013 Thomas. Can also highly recommend the new excavations of Dara in the southeast. Will be posting about that soon

  2. Thomas

    I would definitely love to visit Myra. Unfortunately I have not had the opportunity to visit any site in Turkey yet – I am hoping to put this to rights in 2013!

    I enjoyed reading your post, and glad you enjoyed visiting the site even though you were not expecting much. Far too often smaller lessor known sites are ignored, bigger ones chosen instead. But as you convey, these smaller sites can be just as rewarding! Great photographs too.

  3. Fantastic. Had never heard of this amazing place before seeing your post – your photo of the tombs is beautiful. -David and Veronica

  4. Angela

    Wonderful, visiting ruins is one of my favorite things to do when I travel, and also when I’m home! Looking forward to going back to Turkey 🙂

  5. Sherry

    Ruins are not my favorite places to visit. But that doesn’t take away of how stunning this place looks. So much history here. I’m surprised at how many cultures believe that putting their dead high up will make it easier to get into “heaven.”

  6. Wow! That looks amazing! There is just so much to explore in Turkey!

  7. Thanks John. Glad you liked them. They reckon walking around in the tombs is not that interesting as they were looted hundreds of years ago. Plus I think they are worried about safety aspects as well

  8. I wish I could see that in person. I’ve just got to make that happen.

    The photos are incredible. It could only have been better if you were able to actually get into those tombs, but I supposed I understand why they can’t just let everyone traipse around in there.

  9. Laura

    I should visit Turkey next year for all the wealth of archaeological treasures…

  10. Thanks TLF. I liked the theatre and masks but have to say the tombs were my favourite. Felt a bit hairy walking up to the top of the theatre. Not exactly full of safety paths!

  11. Great photos, Natalie. A long time since we were in Myra bit I remember I loved the theatre and the preserved masks. The best we’ve seen!

  12. Nat

    You are welcome Elisabeth. Glad you managed to see all the Lycian tombs in Fethiye and Dalyan as they are truly magnificent

  13. Nat

    There is definitely a lot of history in Turkey Cheryl. look forward to reading about your trip

  14. I visited Turkey earlier this year and found the vast wealth of archaeological remains mind blowing. While I didn’t get to Myra I managed to walk up to one of the Lycian tombs outside the ‘ghost town’ of Kayakoy near Fethiye which was amazing. The sight of the Lycian temple tombs near Dalyan was also stunning. Thanks for bringing back these memories 🙂

  15. cheryl

    I’d LOVE to visit this place …. stunning! So much history to be had. Turkey’s on my list for 2012. Can’t wait.

  16. I liked it D but mainly because of the Lycian rock tombs.

  17. Mary – Turkey should definitely be on your list for 2012. The destinations to visit within it, are plentiful.

  18. Not as large as Ephesus Stephanie but Myra is still a delight to visit.

  19. This spot looks/sounds like a really incredible experience!

  20. Wow, I’ve never heard of Myra. Thanks for inspiring me to add Turkey to wish list. 🙂

  21. I’ve been to Ephesus. Definitely looks different.

  22. You’re welcome Lisa. Glad you liked them. Myra and St Nicholas church is so close by that it makes sense to combine the visit.

  23. Look forward to hearing about your visit Di. There is a great difference between Roman and Lycian architecture and it was easy to see this at Myra

  24. Lisa

    Myra looks like fun! I think I would combine it with the St Nick trip you suggest. Thanks for sharing, great pictures!

  25. phil + Di marina gateway

    yes i would visit and i plan to do so in the future

    yet another good read Natalie and nice to see something other than Roman ruins its easy to
    forget how old Turkey is