The city of Myra was a chief Lycian port in antiquity. Including both the city and the harbor a short distance away, the once prosperous city was near to the Lycian tombs (a short walk to the north), a rock carved necropolis with an impressive facade from the C4 BCE and onward.
Along with the necropolis, there was a Roman theatre erected, which still appears in a good state of preservation. The port regularly serviced Alexandrian grain ships, serving the needs of the Lycian Cities.
Though not extensively excavated, the city has significant remains. Julius the Centurion chose the ill-fated ship bound for Italy to take St. Paul for his requested presentation to Caesar (Acts 27:5-6). The contrary winds and waves eventually overwhelmed the vessel. Christianity took hold in the city, and a world famous Christian bishop of Myra.
St. Nicolas is remembered in the restored C 11 CE Byzantine basilica. Nicolas was a late C4 CE bishop who served the people of his region with zeal, and is remembered as a particularly selfless and giving Christian. After a gift of three small bags of gold were left as dowry payments from three young women of Patara (to aid them in escaping a life of prostitution) the fame of his selfless acts grew in historical legend.
It was said that Nicolas sold possessions dear to him to gain the money to care for these women. Today, a pawnbroker uses the three balls of gold to remember this gift. St. Nicolas is today the patron of Russia, virgins and sailors in liturgical settings, and is remembered world wide in the Santa Claus tradition.