Officially ‘Kale’ but called by its old name ‘Demre’ by just about everyone, this sprawling, dusty town was once the Lycian (and later Roman) city of Myra. By the 4th century it was important enough to have its own bishop – most notably St Nicholas, who went on to catch the Western world’s imagination in his starring role as Santa Claus. In AD 60 St Paul put Myra on the liturgical map by changing boats at its port, Andriake, while on his way to Rome (or so Acts 27: 4-6 tells us).
Once situated on the sea, Demre moved inland as precious alluvium – deposits of clay, silt, sand and gravel – flowed from the Demre stream. The resultant fertile soil is the foundation of the town’s wealth, and it remains a major centre for the growing and distribution of fruit and vegetables.