Patara (Turkish: Patara, Lycian: ????????????????????????, Pttara; Greek: Πάταρα) was an ancient and flourishing maritime and commercial city that was for a period the capital of Lycia. The site is located on the Turkish coast near to the village of Gelemiş, in Antalya Province.

Saint Nicholas was born in the town in 270, and lived most of his life in the nearby town of Myra.

Only part of the site has been excavated and renovated. The protection and archaeology of the site have been subject to battles between archaeologists and illegal developers.

Patara was referred to as Patar in Hittite texts: "King Tudhaliya IV (1236-1210 BC), after the Lukka expedition, came to this city with his army and made offerings."

The city was said to have been founded by Patarus (Greek: Πάταρος), a son of Apollo. It was noted during antiquity for the temple and oracle of Apollo, second only in importance to that of Delphi.[1] The god is often given the surname Patareus. Herodotus[2] says that the oracle of Apollo was delivered by a priestess only during a certain period of the year, and Servius[3] mentions that this period was the six winter months. It seems certain that Patara received Dorian settlers from Crete; and the worship of Apollo was certainly Dorian.

Ancient writers mentioned Patara as one of the principal cities of Lycia.[4] It was Lycia's primary seaport, and a leading city of the Lycian League, having 3 votes, the maximum.

The city, with the rest of Lycia, surrendered to Alexander the Great in 333 BC. During the Wars of the Diadochi, it was occupied in turn by Antigonus and Demetrius, before finally falling to the Ptolemies. In this period the first city walls were built. Strabo informs us that Ptolemy Philadelphus of Egypt, who enlarged the city, gave it the name of Arsinoë after Arsinoe II of Egypt, his wife and sister, but it continued to be called by its ancient name, Patara.[5] Antiochus III captured Patara in 196 BC and it became the capital of Lycia. The Lycian League was formally established in 176 BC.

The Rhodians occupied the city and as a Roman ally, the city with the rest of Lycia was granted autonomy in 167 BC. In 88 BC, the city suffered siege by Mithridates VI, king of Pontus and was captured by Brutus and Cassius, during their campaign against Mark Antony and Augustus. It was spared the massacres that were inflicted on nearby Xanthos. Patara was formally annexed by the Roman Empire in 43 AD and attached to Pamphylia.

Patara is mentioned in the New Testament[6] as the place where Paul of Tarsus and Luke changed ships. The city was Christianized early, and several early bishops are known; according to Le Quien,[7] they include:[8]

Methodius, dubious, more probably bishop of Olympus Eudemus, present at the Council of Nicaea (325) Eutychianus, at the Council of Seleucia (359) Eudemus, at the Council of Constantinople (381) Cyrinus, at the Council of Chalcedon (451) Licinius, at the Council of Constantinople (536) Theodulus, at the Council of Constantinople (879-880)

Saints Leo and Paregorius were martyred at Patara around 260 AD. Nicholas of Myra was born at Patara around March 15, 270 AD.

In the 5th century AD the city was reduced in size through the construction of a strong fortification wall adjoining the Bouleuterion using stone from the nearby structures.

Patara is mentioned among the Lycian bishoprics in the Acts of Councils (Hierocl. p. 684).[5] The Notitiae Episcopatuum mention it among the suffragans of Myra as late as the thirteenth century.[8]

The city remained of some importance during the Byzantine Empire as a way-point for trade and pilgrims. After the Seljuk Sultanate of Rum acquisition in 1211 the city declined and appears to have been deserted by 1340.[9]

With the demise of the bishopric as a residential see, Patara became a titular see and is included as in the Catholic Church's list of such sees.[10]

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.[11]

^ Smith 1870, pp. 554–556. ^ Herodotus i. 182. ^ Servius, Commentario ad Aeneidos ^ Livy, xxxiii. 41, xxxvii. 15-17, xxxviii. 39; Polybius xxii. 26; Cicero p. Flacc. 32; Appian, B.C. iv. 52, 81, Mithr. 27; Pliny ii.112, v. 28; Ptolemy v. 3. § 3, viii. 17. § 22; Dionys. Per. 129, 507. ^ a b Smith 1870, pp. 555–556. ^ Acts 21:1-3. ^ Le Quien, Michel (1740). Oriens Christianus, in quatuor Patriarchatus digestus: quo exhibentur ecclesiæ, patriarchæ, cæterique præsules totius Orientis. Tomus primus: tres magnas complectens diœceses Ponti, Asiæ & Thraciæ, Patriarchatui Constantinopolitano subjectas (in Latin). Paris: Ex Typographia Regia. cols. 977. OCLC 955922585. ^ a b   One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Herbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "Patara". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. ^ Cite error: The named reference Peschlow was invoked but never defined (see the help page). ^ Annuario Pontificio 2013 (Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 2013, ISBN 978-88-209-9070-1), p. 950 ^ Stadiasm. Mar. Mag. § 219.
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