To my own surprise I took another shot the the statue mentioned as follows in the WIkipedia: "A solemn bronze statue of the Saint by the Russian sculptor Gregory Pototsky, donated by the Russian government in 2000, was given a prominent place on the square in front of the medieval church of St. Nicholas. In 2005, mayor Suleyman Topcu had the statue replaced by a red-suited plastic Santa Claus statue, because he wanted the central statue to be more recognizable to visitors from all over the world. Protests from the Russian government against this action were successful only to the extent that the Russian statue was returned, without its original high pedestal, to a corner near the church." I went straight on to visit the church.
The three marble pillars and their capitals were part of the 6th century church, built in 520 AD to honor Saint Nicholas and to contain his tomb; it was erected on top of the foundations of the older Christian church where Nicholas served as bishop in the 4th century.
Correspondent: J.M.Criel, Antwerpen.
Source: Website of ‘stnicholascenter.org’ & Personal visits (1985-1989-2006) .