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Antalya’s 1,500-year-old church of St. Nicholas, restored

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Daniel Esparza - published on 05/20/23

The millennium-and-a-half-old St. Nicholas Church in Antalya, Turkey, has reopened to the public after an 18-month restoration. It's on the burial grounds of the saint popularly known as Santa Claus.

The millennium-and-a-half-old St. Nicholas Church in Antalya, Turkey, has reopened to the public after an 18-month restoration. Located in the Mediterranean Demre district of the ancient city of Antalya, the church is built on the burial grounds of the Turkish-born saint popularly known as Santa Claus.

Built in 520 on the ruins of an even earlier church, the building, which is on the UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List, was restored by the Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism. The work concentrated on the installation of protective roofs to preserve artifacts from the crypt to the dome. The church’s extensive wall paintings and floor mosaics, considered essential works of Byzantine art and architecture, were also restored. A new gallery space was installed on the second floor, and accessibility enhanced.

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The church’s extensive wall paintings and floor mosaics were also restored.

Speaking at the opening of the restored St. Nicholas Church, Turkish Minister of Culture and Tourism Mehmet Nuri Ersoy said: “This church, one of the most outstanding works of Eastern Roman art with its architecture and decorations, has great value for the Christian world. The restoration will enable the Church of St. Nicholas to host many more visitors and worshipers in the decades to come.”

You can learn more about this church and St. Nicholas’ hometown here.

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