The ancient city of Patara, located in Turkey’s Mediterranean resort city of Antalya has come into the spotlight following a declaration from President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan who said that 2020 would be the “year of Patara” on Feb. 12.
“Patara, which served as the main port city for the Lycian civilization, is also an important symbol in our culture. We are currently reviving this hub,” Erdoğan said.
The president added that the only ancient lighthouse that has made it to this day is located in Patara.
A potential UNESCO World Heritage Site
“Patara could be nominated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, especially its Demre district, where the Church of St. Nicholas is located,” said Mustafa Siyahhan, a tourism expert at Bilkent University in Ankara.
Siyahhan said that for years, Demre has organized festivals honoring the revered figure, also known as Saint Nick, or Santa Claus.
According to tradition, St. Nicholas was born in Patara and was a bishop in the Lycian town of Myra in what is today’s Demre region.
Following his death, St. Nicholas’ gift-giving habit spread throughout the world, and he turned into the legendary figure of Santa Claus, known for giving Christmas gifts to children.