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Though there is a conflict of opinions as to when Myra was first occupied, and as there is no mention of it before the 1st century B.C. it is generally agreed that Myra came into prominence in the 5th century B.C. In the 1st century B.C. Myra that comes from the word "Myrrh" was a commanding city of the Lycian Union and was chosen over Xanthos by Constantine in early Byzantine times as the capital of Lycia. Myra also used to be an important port during the Roman times.
One of the most famous bishops of Myra is St. Nicholas, who lived in the early years of the 4th century A.D. He was a great philanthropist and has gone down the annals of history as Santa Claus. After his death, Myra was converted to a rich pilgrimage center and many churches were built.