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St Nicholas Church in Demre, Turkey
Photograph: Marian C /

Santa Claus’s tomb has been discovered – and you can visit

Archaeologists claim to have found the grave of Saint Nicholas beneath a church in Turkey

Ed Cunningham
Written by
Ed Cunningham

Kids, don’t let anyone tell you Santa Claus isn’t real. Or, more accurately, that he wasn’t real (bit morbid, soz). Archaeologists are claiming to have found Santa’s tomb beneath a church in Turkey – and you can actually visit it.

When we’re talking about Santa Claus, we are, of course, really talking about Saint Nicholas of Myra: a bishop who lived from AD 270 to 343. He’s the guy that the Santa Claus myth is based on, thanks to his reputed habit of distributing gifts to the poor and needy. And he is apparently buried under St Nicholas Church in Demre, a town in the Turkish province of Antalya.

Saint Nick’s tomb was supposedly found under the church’s floor mosaic during a routine survey this month. No reports yet of any reindeer remains buried nearby.

Although the church is named after him and was recorded as his original burial place, it was previously thought that Nick’s bones had been moved to Italy during the First Crusade in the eleventh century. 

Better yet, the church where you can now officially find Santa’s grave is open to the public. Naturally, it has some pretty interesting TripAdvisor reviews. Some note the church’s marvellous frescoes and impressive architecture. Others read: ‘Be careful not to traumatise your children by showing them Santa’s tomb.’

Entry costs about 125 Turkish lira (£6, $6.70), though, be warned, you won’t actually get to see Saint Nick’s final resting place. The sarcophagus itself, while having been discovered by various scans of the floor, hasn’t (yet) been excavated.

If the tomb of the actual Santa isn’t enough to lure you to Demre on its own, there’s lots of other stuff to do. From the ruins of the ancient city of Myra to island-hopping around the Antalya coast, the town is as ideal for sun-lounging by the Med as it is for nerding out on Byzantine history. In fact, it could be a great place for that Christmas trip…

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