Patara (Lycian: , Pttara; Greek: Πάταρα) was an ancient and flourishing maritime and commercial city, capital of Lycia, on the south-west coast of Turkey near the modern small town of Gelemiş, in Antalya Province.

It is the birthplace of Saint Nicholas in 270 AD, who lived most of his life in the nearby town of Myra (Demre).

Only a small part of the site has been excavated and renovated, but with impressive results. The protection and archaeology of the site have been subject to fierce battles between archaeologists and illegal developers over many years.[1]


The site is a plain surrounded by hills and included in ancient times a large natural harbour, since silted up. Northeast of the harbour is Tepecik Hill upon which there is a Bronze Age site and which was the acropolis on which the city was founded. The city later spread to the south and west of the hill.[2]

It was one of the four largest settlements in the Xanthos Valley and the only one open to the sea, situated 60 stadia to the southeast of the mouth of the river.[3]

Parts of the site have been subject to illegal construction for agriculture, hotels and holiday villages despite legal protection, and destruction and vandalism are continuing problems.