Although some scholars equate Myra with the town Mira in Arzawa, there is no proof for the connection. There is no substantiated written reference for Myra before it was listed as a member of the Lycian league (168 BC â€“ AD 43); according to Strabo (14:665) it was one of the largest towns of the alliance.
The ancient Greek citizens worshiped Artemis Eleutheria, who was the protective goddess of the town. Zeus, Athena and Tyche were venerated as well. Pliny the Elder writes that in Myra there was the spring of Apollo called Curium and when summoned three times by the pipe the fishes come to give oracular responses. In the Roman period Myra formed a part of the Koine Greek speaking world that rapidly embraced Christianity. One of its early Greek bishops was Saint Nicholas.
The ruins of the Lycian and Roman town are mostly covered by alluvial silts. The Acropolis on the Demre-plateau, the Roman theatre and the Roman baths (eski hamam) have been partly excavated. The semi-circular theater was destroyed in an earthquake in 141, but rebuilt afterwards.
There are two necropoleis of Lycian rock-cut tombs
in the form of temple fronts carved into the vertical faces of cliffs
at Myra: the river necropolis and the ocean necropolis. The ocean
necropolis is just northwest of the theater. The best-known tomb in the
river necropolis, 1.5 km (0.93 mi) up the Demre Cayi from the theater,
is the "Lion's tomb", also called the "Painted Tomb". When the traveller
Charles Fellows saw the tombs in 1840 he found them still colorfully painted red, yellow and blue.
Andriake was the harbour of Myra in classical times, but silted up later on. The main structure there surviving to the present day is a granary (horrea) built during the reign of the Roman emperor Hadrian (117â€“138 AD). Beside this granary is a large heap of Murex shells, evidence that Andriake had an ongoing operation for the production of purple dye.Excavations have been carried out at Andriake since 2009. The granary was turned into the Museum of Lycian Civilizations. The granary has seven rooms and measures 56 meters long and 32 meters wide. Artifacts found during the excavations in the Lycian League were placed in the museum. The structures in the Harbor Bazaar as well as the agora, synagogue and a six-meter deep, 24-meter long and 12-meter wide cistern were restored. A 16-meter long Roman-era boat, a crane and a cargo car were placed in front of the museum.