Saint Nicholas is the common name for Nicholas of Myra, a saint and Bishop of Myra in Lycia, part of modern-day Turkey, lived between 270 - 6 December 346. He had a reputation for secret gift-giving, such as putting coins in the shoes of those who left them out for him, and thus became the model for Santa Claus. Because of the many miracles attributed to his intercession, he is also known as Nicholas the Wonderworker. His reputation evolved among the faithful, as is common for early Christian saints.
The earliest church of St. Nicholas at Myra was built in the 6th century. The present-day church was constructed mainly from the 8th century onward; a monastery was added in the second half of the 11th century.
In 1863, Tsar Alexander II of Russia purchased the building and began restoration, but the work was never finished. In 1963 the eastern and southern sides of the church were excavated. In 1968 the former tomb of St. Nicholas was roofed over.
The floor of the church is made of opus sectile, a mosaic of coloured marble, and there are some remains of frescoes on the walls. An ancient Greek marble sarcophagus had been reused to bury the Saint.