Archaeologists believe they may have found a tomb belonging to the Saint Nicholas – the inspiration for the legendary character of Santa Claus – beneath a Turkish church.
Recent radar surveys have confirmed the presence of a temple and burial grounds beneath the recently restored Saint Nicholas Church in Demre, Antalya, local publication Hürriyet reports.
Antalya Monument Authority director Cemil Karabayram said he was hopeful excavators would find Saint Nicholas’s body within the complex.A tourist visits the St Nicholas church. (Getty)Demre, Turkey. (Google Maps)
“We have obtained very good results but the real work starts now,” Mr Karabayram said.
“We will reach the ground and maybe we will find the untouched body of Saint Nicholas.”
Mr Karabayram added the recovery work would be piecemeal, especially given the presence of stone reliefs and mosaics inside.The exterior of the church. (Getty)
He is currently seeking the assistance of researchers from a variety of fields to assist with the excavation work, the Daily Sabah reports.
The town of Demre was founded atop the ancient remains of a city called Myra, where Saint Nicholas was reputed to have lived.A doorway. (Getty)
The story of the fourth-century Greek bishop, reputed for his piousness and dedication to helping the poor, inspired gift-giving traditions and eventually led to the creation of the modern Santa Claus figure.
Saint Nicholas’ remains were previously believed to have been smuggled to Bari, Italy by merchants in 1087, and a church built to house them.
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