Nicholas' birthplace and childhood home
Opening between hills forms gateway to the sea
Photo: H Haskell
Used by permission
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Around AD 275 Nicholas was born in Patara, on the south east Lycian coast. At that time Patara's population was about 15,000. It enjoyed some sea trade, but probably relied primarily on cottage craft industry—labor intensive food processing, textile and pottery making, woodworking, glass, metalwork, leather, bone and shell craft, brick, tile and stone work—for local use. Located in a valley surrounded by hills, a stone arch formed the entrance from the north and a narrow notch in the hills to the south gave access to the Mediterranean Sea. Patara's acropolis, a temple dedicated to Artemis, was on a hill overlooking the city. The outdoor amphitheatre, made of local stone with twenty-five tiers of seats, is below the acropolis.
During Nicholas' lifetime, the harbor filled with silt and the city gradually lost importance. Sand dunes have since gradually covered much of the town. The prominent Roman ruins are from structures that would have been familiar to Nicholas. The Christian community his family belonged to may have been started by the Apostle Paul, who boarded a ship in Patara on his third missionary journey to Tyre. Remains of the harbor church can be seen in the water.
Saint Nicholas Bishop of Myra: The Life and Times of the Original Father Christmas by D. L. Cann, Novalis/Twenty-Third Publications, 2002
Describes the culture and places of the Graeco-Roman Empire that was home to St Nicholas
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